Last spring we told you about Gonzaga student Hannah Tolson, who is one of the top collegiate climbers in the nation. She beat a rival from UNC to win her first USA Climbing National Championship, just a few weeks after Gonzaga lost to the Tar Heels in the NCAA title game.
That win helped Hannah realize her potential in climbing, a sport that will reach the world's biggest stage in two years. With that in mind she has elevated her game again this year, with another chance to take her career to new heights this week.
"Winning a National Championship it had been a goal of mine for so long," Hannah said. "Once I had kind of put that to bed I had time to think, okay what are my new goals? Immediately I thought like I want to score the highest in the all around. I want to be the best all around athlete."
Tolson won the National Championship in Sports Climbing. Instead of simply going back to defend her crown, Tolson attacked all three climbing competitions - the others being Speed and Bouldering.
Hannah knew that at Nationals she would have to compete in all three in the same day.
"The goal of this year was to get a level of fitness I've really never had," Tolson said.
She got there by adding traditional training elements to her sport specific workouts.
"We've seen a lot of climbers start lifting weights and start running and start cross training," Tolson said. "If I had enough gas in the tank for three disciplines in my hands but had enough gas in the tank in one discipline in my legs that wasn't gonna cut it."
When Nationals came around in April, Hannah did not win a single event.
Instead, she did something even more impressive. Hannah finished Top-5 in all three disciplines, which made her the only collegiate American to qualify for the 2018 World University Championships in Sport, Speed and Bouldering.
"It was really a kind of magical round of competition."
Tolson booked a trip to Slovakia, and this week takes on the biggest test of her climbing career.
"I have no idea how I'm going to place but I'm not really concerned," Tolson said. "My coach used to always say expectations are a really heavy weight to carry up the wall and I think that's true.
"I'm not going into it like come back with a medal or don't come back at all. I think in the past when I've set those expectations for myself I've always come back disappointed."
Her focus isn't on the results - but instead the experience.
"Representing Gonzaga it kind of feels like a big honor," Tolson added. "And being in a different country and repping the U.S. flag on my back, it's gonna be a really fun time."
And it might not be her last chance to do that. Climbing has been added to the Olympics for the 2020 Summer Games. That's another reason why Hannah took on the new challenge this year - in two years at Tokyo Athletes will have to compete in all three disciplines.
"There's now this attention paid to being a good all around athlete, which i think is really fun. Fortunately I've had success in all three."
With two years to go until her sport reaches the height of international competition, this steadily rising Zag will again get a clearer idea just how far she can go.
"I'm really excited to see how I can stack up. Any given day right? It'll be fun."
The World University Championships begin in Slovakia Wednesday and last through Saturday.
Whether or not Hannah becomes an Olympian in two years, she's got a very promising future ahead of her. She is an honors student that will graduate next year, and plans on going to medical school.