High School MTB - Salida advances, Boulder High remains in lead

Garret Gerchar, Boulder HIgh, leads the JV boys field on lap 2.
Michael Dessau, Boulder High, Maxx Chance, Fairview and
Grant Ellwood, Boulder High are looking for an opportunity.
Photo by Carrie Dittmer

ELBERT, Colo. — The third race of the 2011 Colorado High School Cycling League on October 16 at the Peaceful Valley Scout camp included 242 student athletes from 30 teams. The easy-going atmosphere in the team pits was contrasted with spirited competition out on the race course, from the Freshman girls and boys through the Varsity events.

The Colorado League director, Kate Rau, said, "Another exciting weekend of racing! The camaraderie and friendly competition we see at these events continues to solidify the Colorado League community, I am so proud to be part of this. And of course it is a delight to return to this exceptional Elbert venue."

Dry, windy conditions met the riders, but the sky was a perfect blue, and the 5.4-mile course that rolled through the prairies and ponderosas on the 3,300-acre camp made for some classic Colorado mountain bike racing.

For example, the Junior Varsity Girls' race featured a tight battle. Kelsay Lundberg of Salida took the lead at the start, then was caught late in the first lap by McCauley Smith of Boulder. Lundberg retook the lead for good on the climbs of the second and final lap.

“I was faster on the hills,” said Lundberg, who said she's been riding mountain bikes “since I was little.” Lundberg is on swim, tennis, and track teams, but enjoys the action of mountain biking. “I like the thrill of it, just being in control and being outside. And I like just hanging out with the team,” she said.

Kelsay’s brother Garrett took line honors in the Varsity Boy’s race, while his team-mate Isaac Stakonis finished third. Jake Kastner claimed the win for Salida High School in the Sophomore Boy’s race, adding to a great overall team effort that put them almost 100 points clear of their closest rival, Fairview HS, and just 200 behind Division 1 leader Boulder HS.

Racers gave top marks to the brand new course, which was designed by Elbert's Jeff Vanderlinden. It contained a mix of single- and doubletrack, with 536 feet of climbing per 5.4-mile lap.

“There are very few flat sections, good places to pass, and some fun singletrack through the woods” Vanderlinden said. He added that the ranch has enough trails to vary the course every year.

Another rider who enjoyed the course was Rich Vincent, coach of the Laramie, Wyoming, 7220 Team, which brings about a dozen riders across the state border to compete in the Colorado series. Laramie is sitting fourth after 3 races in the Division 1 team standings.

Besides coaching, Vincent served as a “roving marshal” on Sunday, ensuring rider safety out on the course. It also meant the longtime rider got a chance to ride at least three laps of the course, all in the line of duty.

Several races on the day came down to the wire. One of the most exciting was the Division 1 JV Boy's race, where two Boulder High School teammates started the day tied for the series lead. After trading wins and runner-up positions at the season's first two races, Michael Dessau and Garrett Gerchar started Sunday's race wearing identical series leader's jerseys. But they knew that, barring a tie, only one of them would have possession of the jersey three laps later.

For most of the race, a tie seemed possible. Matching pedal stroke for pedal stroke, the duo held together into the third, final, lap. Then while passing some riders from other categories, Gerchar managed to clip a tree with his handlebar and dropped his chain.

The incident happened on a climb, and — knowing that his teammate is a strong descender — Dessau knew he had to use the opportunity.

The Golden High School Mountain Bike Team is new for this season and
includes a lot of first-time racers that now love the sport. The team is
coached by Tim Hoppin (alumni to GHS) and Scott Burcar (Science
Teacher at GHS). Photo Carrie Dittmer.

“If I had let him come back, he would have got me in the end, because he's a mountain bike guy and I'm a roadie,” Dessau said.

Dessau held on for the win, Gerchar was second, and the depth of Boulder's talent pool in Division 1 JV Boys was measured when the team's Grant Ellwood rolled in for third.

In high school mountain biking, the team competition is at least as important as the individual rankings. And while the lead racers get to stand on the podium, all riders contribute points to the team result, so even the varsity stars were course-side before and after their events, urging on their teammates in other categories.

No matter how far behind the winner, riders were motivated to come through for their teammates, overcoming crashes and mechanicals to milk the field for a few extra points.

Ralston Valley High School's Alex Voller, for example, managed to finish even after his rear derailleur fell off and a make-shift singlespeed conversion failed. The Division 2 Sophomore rolled across the line with no chain, but to appreciative applause from the crowd.

“I just wanted to finish,” Voller explained.

The Colorado league has expanded from 20 teams last year, the league's first, to 31 this year. Many of the teams have expanded at a similar rate, and many of the new riders are female. The Salida team, for example, had just one girl last year, but four this season.

The next event is the state championships, October 30 in Castle Rock.

For more information, contact Kate Rau kate@coloradomtb.org

Full results here.

Photo gallery with prints available here.

Abbreviated Preliminary Results

Place - Name - Plate Number - School

Varsity Girls ?

Boulder - Ksenia Lepikhina - 009 - Fairview
Boulder -Dominque Fenichell - 006 - Boulder High
Durango - India Waller - 007- Durango Composite
Varsity Boys

Salida - Garrett Lundberg - 041 - Salida High School
Vail - Christian Kloser – 039 - Vail Valley Composite
Salida - Isaac Stackonis - 051 - Salida High School
JV Girls

Salida - Kelsay Lundberg - 126 - Salida High School
Boulder - McCauley Smith - 114 - Boulder High School
Fort Collins - Jessica Layman - 122 - Poudre High School
JV D1 Boys

Boulder - Michael Dessau - 210 - Boulder High School
Boulder - Garrett Gerchar - 218 - Boulder High School
Boulder - Grant Ellwood - 246 - Boulder High School
JV D2 Boys

Buena Vista - Jake Boucher - 307 - Bunea Vista Composite
Arvada - Britt Douglas - 329 - Ralston Valley High School
Arvada - Parker Lehman - 320 - Ralston Valley High School
Sophomore Girls

Edwards - Hannah Hardenbergh - 405 - Vail Valley Comp
Golden - Caroline Hardy - 406 - Independent, Lakewood High School
Edwards - Clare Baker - 401 - Vail Valley Comp
Sophomore Boys Division 1

Salida - Jake Kastner - 515 - Salida High School
Boulder - Hayden Mans - 519 - Boulder High School
Laramie - Schuyler Vercauteren - 531 - 7220 Racing
Sophomore Boys Division 2

Vail - John Bailey - 602 - Vail Valley Composite
Fort Collins - Zach Jensen - 611 - Pouder High School
Castle Rock - Adam Nicholson - 628 - Douglas County High School
Freshman Girls

Edgewater - Ellie Welshorn - 712 - Green Mountain Composite
Golden - Rae Lemon - 705 - Golden High School
Leadville - Lara Lufkin - 704 - Leadville High School
Freshman Boys Division 1

Golden - Sam Furness - 810 - Independent - Lakewood High School
Boulder - Chris Key - 814 - Fairview High School
Boulder - Adin Baird - 803 - Boulder High School
Freshman Boys Division 2

Arvada - Henry Chapman - 902 - Ralston Valley High School
Colorado Springs - Trevor Von Boeck - 930 - Cheyenne Mountain Composite
Vail - Jackson Shanley - 927 - Vail Valley Comp
Team Standings
Team - Overall Points
Division 1

Boulder High School - 7801
Salida High School - 7601
Fairview High School - 7509
Division 2

Vail Valley Composite - 4593
Durango Composite - 4394
Poudre Composite - 4230
Complete Preliminary Results here.

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