The Chalk Creek Challenge! Colorado High School Mountain Bike Race in Nathrop, Colorado

Results | Photos

This past weekend kicked off the Colorado high school mountain bike racing season. And kick it off, it did! 362 riders raced the course on McMurray Ranch in Nathrop, Colorado. 37 teams represented the state in what is sure to be the beginning of a great racing season for Colorado high school mountain biking.

On Sunday morning there was a buzz in the air laced with excitement and nerves. The first thing that crosses my mind when I walk onto these venues is, “This is a high school race?” The race venue feels no different than any race I’ve ever done except that the racers are in high school. And there are tons of super supportive parents all over the place. As I walked the start line, I saw lots of smiles and a few tear filled eyes. Some of the kids were so nervous! As I was pep talking my Boulder High girls, I saw a girl from another team who looked like she was going to throw up. I told her, “You’ll be okay! You’re going to do great!” I’m not sure she was convinced.

Photo Credit: Lee Wood
More photos at Colorado MTB

The course was a combination of sand, dust, cacti and tight single track (if you wanted to avoid the cacti). It had some nice little sandy hills to spread out the pack and some loose downhill areas with enough sand for a beach chair and a boogie board. The second half of the course was down by the creek under the trees with cool breezes. The course was a bit over five miles with an added two miles for the Varsity course. The Varsity and JV boys did three laps with everyone else doing two.

For Division I, Boulder High came away with the team win with 3965 points with Fairview trailing with 3886 points. Vail Valley, Golden and Salida were not far behind. For the Division II teams, Durango stole the show with 2131 points with Animas taking 2006 points. Evergreen and Grand Valley took third and fourth place. Teams are placed into Division I and II depending on the size of their team. Division I teams have 12 or more student riders with Division II having 11 or fewer.

New schools were out representing the state; Rock Canyon Composite, Estes Park High School, Columbine, Fountain Valley and New Vista. It is an indescribable feeling seeing all of those kids out there racing their hearts out. And the parents that make it happen need applause too. Last but not even close to least, the volunteers bring all the magic and the hard work that creates a great event. There are still three more races left in the season. If you’ve been looking for a way to get involved or a way to give back, think about volunteering. I think it will make you happy. Leave you warm and fuzzy.

Seeing the kids come across the line is the payoff for us adults at the race. They remind us that riding your bike is a great thing. They remind us what it’s like to be a kid. They remind us to be grateful and to take any opportunity we have to encourage a kid on their bike. See you at the next race!

Past High School MTB Articles
- On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! Time for Colorado High School Mountain Bike Season.

Official Race Report and Results

Nathrop, Colorado – The Colorado League continued to see explosive growth with 363 racers, including 72 girls, for the September 9th season opener at the McMurry Ranch in Nathrop. With an increase of more than 40% compared to 2011, the competition was challenging and exciting in every category.

Many series veterans who had experienced the widely varying terrain at the ranch before, were in for some new challenges. Dry conditions turned much of the trail into powdery sand, requiring sustained power in previously fast-rolling sections, and changing the tough short climbs and drops into loose technical sections. The local Buena Vista team spent many hours preparing the course prior to race weekend including a Varisty specific 2-mile extension. The Varsity addition looked easy on the map but turned out to be an energy-sapping, windy, twisty sandy extension.

Isaac Stackonis (Salida) holds back Josh Gallen (Crested Butte Community) in the Varsity boys race.

After the dust settled and the team rankings were calculated, it was a tale of two cities. Boulder High now leads Division 1 over neighboring Fairview High by only 79 points. Vail holds 3rd by 61 points over 4th place Golden with Salida in 5th by a scant 16 points. Durango area schools lead the Division 2 team standings with Durango High ahead of Animas High with Evergreen in 3rd by only 11 points over Grand Valley in 4th .

Chalk Creek Challenge Team Results

Division 1 Standings:
1. Boulder High 3965
2. Fairview High 3886
3. Vail Valley 3679
4. Golden High 3646
5. Salida Racing 3585

Division 2 Standings:
1. Durango High 2131
2. Animas High 2006
3. Evergreen High 1931
4. Grand Valley 1920
5. Green Mountain Composite 1894

Once the neutral lead out dropped away riders cut loose, it was time to create new legends. Sepp Kuss (Durango High), a first time league racer, who spent his summer collecting podium finishes, quickly separated himself from the stacked field. Kuss put a cushion of over one minute in the first lap, then added two more minutes each lap for an amazing 5:24 margin of victory. Contender Zane Godby, (Monarch High), was on Kuss’s wheel until he flatted on lap 2. Blasting into 2nd was Michael Dessau (Boulder High) and Kuss's Durango team mate Levi Kurlander took 3rd.

Durango continued their winning ways in the girl's Varsity class, with another Colorado League newbie, Kaylee Blevins, taking the win. Kaylee brought national and international racing experience with her. Finishing second, was a friendly rival from the other side of Durango, India Waller (Animas High). Another podium regular from last year, Ksenia Lepikhina (Fairview High), worked her way into 3rd.

Ksenia Lepikhina (Fairview) leads out Kaylee Blevins (Durango) and Laurel Rathbun (Highlander Composite) Photo Robinson Noble

Varsity Girls
1 Kaylee Blevins (5) Durango High 14.2 miles in 1:08:30.99
2 India Waller (8) Animas High School 1:10:39.51
3 Ksenia Lepikhina (3) Fairview High 1:13:03.65
4 Kelsay Lundberg (6) Salida High 1:13:35.21
5 Laurel Rathbun (1) Highlander Racing Composite 1:15:44.44

Varsity Boys
1 Sepp Kuss (55) Durango High 21.3 miles 1:22:20.90
2 Michael Dessau (34) Boulder High 1:27:44.37
3 Levi Kurlander (50) Durango High 1:30:12.76
4 Stephan Davoust (51) Animas High 1:30:28.63
5 Kyle Bloesser (41) Independent 1:30:57.19

Carter Jacob-Gibb (Fairview) celebrates his 5th place win by 24 seconds. Photo Robinson Noble

The largest fields were the JV racers, with 112 boys and 38 girls. Grand Valley's Marta Morris, another league newcomer, powered through the sand pits to confidently take the JV girls win. Junior cyclocross star Mina Anderberg, (Boulder High) 9th grader debuted in second place. The only Brooks Saddle equipped bike in the race, pedaled by Isabella Krompegel-Anliker (Poudre High) finished 3rd. In the packed D1 JV boys race it was Adin Baird (Boulder High) over crosstown rival Kurtis Barth (Fairview), while D2 was completely dominated by Griffith Wendland (Monarch High), with Colorado Riley Ames (Colorado Rocky Mountain School) in 2nd and Trey Lopez (Grand Valley) in 3rd.

JV Girls
1 Marta Morris (102) Grand Valley 10.6 miles in 1:00:43.65
2 Mina Anderberg (100) Boulder High 1:01:28.78
3 Isabella Kromegel-Anliker Poudre High 1:07:26.73
4 Sierra Trout (101) Durango High 1:09:51.11
5 Bella Walz (144) Evergreen High 1:10:27.71

JV Division 1 Boys
1 Adin Baird (223) Boulder High 15.9 miles 1:15:53.94
2 Kurtis Barth (226) Fairview High 1:17:35.42
3 Sam Furness (242) Golden High 1:17:36.33
4 Nevin Whittemore (209) Boulder High 1:20:45.99
5 Jacob Carter-Gibb (227) Fairview High 1:21:48.77

JV Division 2 Boys
1 Griffith Wendland (348) Monarch High 15.9 miles 1:21:51.04
2 Riley Ames (332) CRMS 1:26:14.68
3 Trey Lopez (341) Grand Valley 1:30:04.82
4 Charlie Lynch (317) Evergreen High 1:30:12.75
5 Nial Irwin (313) Evergreen High 1:31:38.11

Patrick Whitesel (Green Mountain Composite) sprints to the Sophomore D2 finish.

In the Division 1 boys Sophomore race, Henry Trowbridge (Summit High) confessed at the finish that he might have gotten a little cocky after opening up an early gap, as independent rider Quinn Tirpak (Independent) surprised him by getting within 5 seconds of his rear wheel at the finish. Division 2 was a story of 2 brothers, Liam and Cormac Dunn (Denver East Composite), with Liam taking over trailblazing duties on the 2nd lap for the win.

The top Sophomore girl winner was Taeler McCrerey (Summit High), who's nordic skiing fitness finally won out after trading the lead with two Vail Valley Composite team mates, Anna Martin and Heidi Livran.

Sophomore Girls
1 Taeler Mccrerey (413) Summit High 0.6 miles in 1:10:34.07
2 Anna Martin (417) Vail Valley Composite 1:11:06.67
3 Heidi Livran (416) Vail Valley Composite 1:11:33.16
4 Claire Vandeyacht (409) Summit High 1:15:40.91
5 Randi Seiwald (403) Golden High 1:20:07.89

Sophomore Division 1 Boys
1 Henry Trowbridge (538) Summit High 10.6 miles in 53:02.53
2 Quinn Tirpak (525) Independent 53:07.69
3 Emerson Wohlers (528) Crested Butte Community School 58:04.52
4 Ryan Friedman (509) Boulder High 58:06.93
5 Tullef Rudlong (535) Lyons High 58:19.58

Sophomore Division 2 Boys
1 Liam Dunn (639) Denver East Composite 10.6 miles in 53:14.07
2 Cormac Dunn (640) Denver East Composite 53:39.61
3 Christian Panozzo (631) Loveland Composite 55:58.63
4 Grant Gipson (619) Pbville Pedalers 56:44.37
5 Aaron Selin (621) Front Range Christian 56:47.04

The Freshman may be new, but that doesn't mean they're slow, as proven in the Division 1 Boy's race by winner Quintin Cook (Vail Valley Composite), and 2nd place Jack Tanner (Fairview High) within 12 seconds followed Joel Chapman (Ralston Valley) for 3rd. The D2 boy's lead was taken by another nordic skier, and rapid rider Charlie Greenburg (Durango High), ahead of Jack Ellmer (Fort Collins) and 30 seconds back in 3rd place Charlie Koch (Leadville). The fastest Freshman girl was Meagan Collins (Summit High) who paced herself to a 5 minute win over Jessica Way (Green Mountain Composite) and Brenna Hattler (Golden High) was 3rd.

Freshman Girls
1 Meagan Collins (700) Summit High 1:16:40.66
2 Jessica Way (708) Green Mountain Composite 1:21:35.19
3 Brenna Hattler (701) Golden High 1:25:03.85
4 Sierra Pagan (706) Fort Collins 1:32:33.17
5 Malie Minton (705) Fairview High School 1:38:56.71

Freshman Division 1 Boys
1 Quintin Cook (843) Vail Valley Composite 54:14.48
2 Jack Tanner (813) Fairview High School 55:12.53
3 Joel Chapman (831) Ralston Valley High School 55:15.19
4 Kai Sherman (826) Crested Butte Community School 57:32.68
5 Patrick Curvin (828) Crested Butte Community School 57:40.40

Freshman Division 2 Boys
1 Charlie Greenberg (914) Durango High 56:30.05
2 Jack Ellmer (908) Fort Collins 59:05.92
3 Charlie Koch (913) Pbville Pedalers 59:40.41
4 Matthew Judson (912) Green Mountain Composite 59:46.88
5 Ryan Currie (933) Independent 59:49.76

Joel Chapman (Ralston Valley) cruises to 3rd place finish. Photo Robinson Noble

The most persistent female racer of the day was Sammy Greenwald of Boulder High, who made sure she finished her first ever bike race by walking both up and down the short, steep hills. After being on the course for 2 hours, she still claimed that bike racing was “really fun!”. Two JV boys, Mitchell Hawkins (Independent) and Darian Fairclough (Pbville Pedalers) overcame a series of flat tires and gallantly finished their races after being out on course for over 2.5 hours.

Leadville Coach Bruce Kelly, reported that 3 racers on his team were vexed with flats. Darian fixed one flat on his first lap and fought his way back into the field during lap 2, clocking a respectable 34:52 lap. His third and final lap was 1:13:33 because double flatted on the backside of the cours. He and ran a few miles to the finish carrying his bike on his back and cycling shoes on his handlebars because it was more comfortable.

“This was a big disappointment to Darian because he is extremely prepared for this race series. He demonstrated immense mental fortitude by finishing the race without giving up. We are extremely proud of his incredible effort and he is as well. Flats are part of mountain bike racing. His commitment directly transfers to the life lessons we enforce within our team. Winning is secondary.”

The Colorado racers will be hauling their skills and enthusiasm to the next race among the aspen trees at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby on September 23rd.

Darian Fariclough (Pbville Pedalers) carries his bike in after 3 flat tires.

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Boulder High Welcomes Riders of all Levels

"Despite the team’s obvious talent, Boulder High’s bike team is open to riders of all levels. Their goal is to create “life-long cycling enthusiasts,” and newcomers are always welcomed wholeheartedly. The team teaches teens to be self-sufficient and independent, along with learning how to keep themselves and others safe."

Quote from the Boulder High Newspaper write up on the team. Read more at