Two young rock climbers have had a year to remember.

Nine-year-old Yealiya Southern and 11-year-old Harper Allen of Knoxville are headed to the USA Climbing nationals, which happen from June 13-16.

Southern is nine years old, a rising fifth grader. But in the year since she's picked up the sport of climbing, she's made significant strides.

She still struggles changing directions, but hours of practice have put her among the best in the nation.

"Usually, it takes someone forever...a few years 'til somebody gets to nationals," Southern said.

Both climbers are former gymnasts who wanted a bolder challenge. Allen found freedom inside the harness.

"You can do anything you want on the climb," Allen, who's also competed in the sport for one year, said.

Although the two are competing against each other, they hope to see each other at the top.

"Get tied with each other in first place," Southern said.