The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The great Crate Stacking Challenge

The competition takes place at Kirby Sports Center every semester. (Photo courtesy of Karen Howell)

In a gravity-defying spectacle that had onlookers craning their necks, students came together last week at the Kirby Sports Center to participate in the Recreation Center’s Crate Stacking Challenge. The objective is simple: stack plastic crates to the tallest height, scaling the precarious climbing wall as you go.

“It’s my favorite day of the year to come into work,” Naomi Shertzer ‘25, who works at the climbing wall, said. “It’s just really fun.”

The challenge, first held in early 2020, was established by Karen Howell, associate director of Recreation Services. Howell, who oversees the climbing wall, had been in search of new events to be held in the space and learned that crate stacking was a popular event at other schools.

“As a department, our goal is to have students learn about the climbing program at Lafayette so they will return and become a regular participant,” Howell wrote in an email.

Although the event was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, it resumed in the spring of 2022 and has since been a semesterly occurrence. 

Coming in first place this year was Matt Thompson ‘25, who snagged the win with a tower 18 crates tall, just three crates shy of the all-time record set by Becca Mills ‘21 in 2020. Unfortunately for those who wish to replicate his success, Thompson doesn’t believe he can offer a perfect method for securing victory.

“There’s no like, super specific technique for it,” Thompson said. “It’s really just trying to keep your center of gravity as centered above the crates as possible … Once you get leaning too far back or leaning too far forward, then there’s not really a way to save it.”

For John Skalski ‘27, a first-time participant and this year’s runner-up, the challenge was a dynamic way to test his balance and his climbing skills. 

“You go up pretty high — it’s an interesting survival skill to know you have,” Skalski joked. “I could probably climb a two-story building if you gave me enough crates.”

Despite his second-place finish, Skalski has no regrets about the event’s outcome. 

“[Coming into the challenge] I was like, ‘I’m either gonna get like … one or two off the ground, or I’m gonna go all the way up,” Skalski said. “I was just happy that I got that high.”

Both Thompson and Skalski, along with other competitors, plan to return to the challenge next semester, hoping to stack their crates to new heights.

“We’ll see what happens,” Skalski said. “I might get way worse. Or it might be a coaching season to help my friends get [higher].”

Disclaimer: Design Director Naomi Shertzer ’25 did not contribute writing or reporting.

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Elisabeth Seidel, Design Director/Assistant Business Manager
The funniest culture designer.

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