Luke Muehring, a senior at North Springs Charter High, started rock climbing during his freshman year in high school, after he was told one of the nation’s largest climbing gyms was only 20 minutes from his home.
“When the ‘nation’s largest anything’ is 20 minutes away from your home, you’ve got to check it out,” he said.
Although he didn’t make it to the top of the 60-foot wall on his first try, Luke was hooked on climbing.
“Sports like Ping-Pong and football, you’re pitted against an opponent,” he said. “In rock climbing, the only person who is determining your performance is you.”
Four years after his introduction to climbing, Luke has ascended to the top of the sport.
This past summer, he competed in the World Youth Rock Climbing Championship in Arco, Italy, joining more than 1,000 other athletes from 51 countries.
He and three other athletes qualified for the United States team in Speed Climbing, where competitors try to get to the top of a standardized international route as quickly as possible.
Luke’s favorite part about the two-week-long event was the opportunity to interact with climbers from different countries. Contestants exchanged jerseys, he said, and tried to communicate despite speaking different languages. Luke speaks German and Chinese, so he was able to practice his language skills by talking with other athletes. Now, with the competition done, he stays in touch with some of the other competitors via Instagram and Snapchat.
Luke also uses his climbing skills to help others through Catalyst Sports, a nonprofit that helps children and adults with physical or mental disabilities learn to rock climb for recreation or rehabilitation. Luke started volunteering after he saw events at the gym where he practices climbing.
“His love for the sport, discipline level and commitment has shaped him to be a great athlete and a very successful youth climber both in the U.S. and internationally.” said his coach, Claudiu Vidulescu. “I’m very proud to have played a small role in his climbing achievements so far and I wish him good luck in all his future endeavors.” Although climbing remains a big part of Luke’s life – he trains five days a week for three hours at a time – he has other passions, including electrical engineering. Luke, one of North Springs’ Top Ten scholars this year and the school’s STAR student, means he posted the highest SAT score at North Springs, and excels in science and math courses.
Luke’s interest for electronics started when the charger port for his laptop broke. “To replace this one simple part…you had to completely disassemble the computer. So I got to see how each component works for each other, and how they relate,” he said. “Recently, I built my own computer. I looked up on line how to do it. It’s like really expensive Legos,” he said.
Luke is awaiting scholarship results for Southern Methodist University and Georgia Tech. He hopes to pursue a major in Electrical Engineering and to continue rock climbing.
This article was reported and written by Sarah Kallis, a student at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.