Pride and Determination: Colorado High School Mountain Bike Racing

On Sunday, the Colorado high school mountain bike racing season was in full swing. The race was in Granby at the Snow Mountain Ranch and the course was speckled with aspen leaves of awesome vibrant colors. And just like the first race at the Chalk Creek Challenge, the kids continue to prove that they are in it to finish it.

I waited just past the finish line for the Boulder High girls. Once the kids finish, they are asked to sign a jersey for the sponsors. That’s where I lie in wait to tell the girls how amazing they are (and they are) and to hold their bikes and to give them a hug (if they want one). This part of the finish line reminds me of when we used to be able to go all the way to the gate at the airport. When we would be waiting right outside the door for mom, grandma or our favorite friends. Remember the looks on people’s faces? I really miss that. Well, that’s what it was like for me. The girls would roll up and kind of be looking for their people and at the same time, trying to catch their breath. That’s when I saw what I would have missed ten years ago. Before I became a parent. I saw pure pride.

One of the freshmen girls was racing for her first time. And that’s no small feat. Getting to the race, remembering all of your stuff, remembering your race plate and thinking about what foods will be the best pre-race foods. Of course, parents play a huge role in all this but ultimately it’s the kid who had to roll up to the start line and ride the race. All by her or himself. It’s a big deal. So when they come across the line and they’ve just done something they weren’t sure they could do, well, that’s a really big deal. And when said girl rolled up it was like watching a tennis match. I looked back and forth between her and her dad and I saw the emotion and the pride on his face. And I know this look because I have three kids of my own and I know what it feels like when my kid medals in all five events at the swim meet or when they race short track (at age 4). Or when my kids score their first goal. It’s like the best feeling in the world. And so I guess what I am saying is this: The kids that come out and race are awesome. They could stay at home all nestled in their warm beds (especially on a race day after homecoming) and they could be content with the cyclocross race they did the day before but they get up and they show up and they leave everything they have out on the course.

This is what you might be missing if you haven’t been to a race. Oh, what’s that? You don’t have a kid in high school? You can volunteer! Ring cowbells, set up the course or help with registration. This past race had 387 racers, 25 more than the season opener at Chalk Creek! For Division I, Boulder High and Fairview tied (these are preliminary results) with Vail Valley Composite and Salida trailing close behind for third and fourth. For Division II, Animas (Durango) took first place with Green Mountain (Lakewood) coming in second. Grand Valley and Evergreen placed third and fourth respectively. Again, these are preliminary results but once again the kids gave it their all and seemed to have a great time doing it.
There are two more races left in the 2012 season. I can’t wait to see what happens next time.

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Official High School MTB Race Report

Granby, Colorado – Cowbells rang out in the crisp mountain air Sunday morning at Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies as 388 high school mountain bike racers took to the course of the second race of the Colorado High School Cycling series.

An easier course and gentler weather than the previous race were welcomed by Glenn Case, coach for Estes Park High School, new to the league this season. Fred Newcomer, Summit County coach, agreed. “The kids are excited and this course is tight, fast and fun. Not as technical.”

The 5.2 mile course featured approximately 466 feet of climbing per lap, with underclassmen riding two laps for 10.4 miles, JV boys and Varsity girls riding three laps for 15.6 miles, and Varsity boys hammering out four laps for a total of 20.8 miles. A few bridges, a small rock garden, a narrow off camber trail along a reservoir, and a creek crossing within a mile of the finish provided a lot of variety on new additions for the 2012 course. Trey Lopez (Grand Valley) exclaimed, “This is my favorite course of the past 2 years racing in the Colorado League.” His second place finish and overall series leader status were evidence of his ability to successfully tackle this course.

Boulder and Fairview traditional rivals tied for the D1 team win with Vail Valley coming in third. In D2 team standings, Animas stepped up for the win, buoyed by Stephen Davoust and India Waller, with Green Mountain and Grand Valley tied in second place. Durango felt the absence of their girls Kaylee Blevins and Sierra Trout, with the team falling to 12th place despite the strong showing by their boys. The team scoring is maximized when both genders are represented.

Snow Mountain Ranch Stampede Team Results

Division 1 Standings:
1. Boulder 3913 tie
1. Fairview 3913
3. Vail Valley 3791
4. Salida 3746
5. Golden 3728

Division 2 Standings:
1. Animas High School 2027
2. Grand Valley 1913 tie
2. Green Mountain Composite 1913
4. Evergreen 1887
5. Leadville 1883

Sepp Kuss (Durango) climbs to another win and maintains the series leader position. Photo Carrie Dittmer.

India Waller (Animas High), the current girls Varsity leader, and Ksenia Lepikhina (Fairview) quickly widened a gap, leading together until the final lap, when Waller pulled ahead. As Waller pulled into the finish in first place, she slowed to a stop and waited for Lepikhina to catch up, grabbing her hand to cross the finish line together. Kelsey Lundberg (Salida) came up third shortly after.

“We've ridden together a lot,” Lepikhina said. Waller added, “I think these races are great because there are more and more girls competing.”

The riders seemed to enjoy the course overall, but the boys' varsity leader, Sepp Kuss (Durango) and third-place finisher Garrett Gerchar (Boulder), agreed that the dry dirt seemed to suck their energy, making it hard to gain speed. As race day progressed, the temperature climbed, and the wind picked up, adding clouds of dust to the course, which failed to bother Kuss (Durango), as he garnered his second win of the season, ahead of Michael Dessau (Boulder). “I didn't really know when I had the win for sure, so I just kept pushing all the way through,” he said.

Varsity Girls
1. India Waller (8) Animas 15.6 miles in 1:26:15
2. Ksenia Lepikhina (3) Fairview 1:26:18
3. Kelsay Lundberg (6) Salida 1:29:25
4. Marta Morris (13) Boulder 1:30:03
5. Sage Kitson (12) Salida 1:30:07

Varsity Boys
1. Sepp Kuss (55) Durango 20.8 miles in 1:29.06
2. Michael Dessau (34) Boulder 1:31:25
3. Garrett Gercher (53) Boulder 1:32:25
4. Levi Kurlander (50) Durango 1:33:41
5. Stephen Davoust (51) Animas 1:34:26

Marta Morris (Grand Valley) JV rider placed 4th. Photo Carrie Dittmer.

Homecoming games and dances were a factor for a few of the racers, some having gone out, and some having stayed home to rest. Both options seemed to have worked out for the top finishers. Kurtis Barth (Fairview), D1 JV winner, said he just went to the football game and skipped the homecoming dance, while top-finishing D1 sophomore Henry Trowbridge (Summit) seemed to have harnessed the adrenaline from his night out to take the win, said his father, Willie Trowbridge.

The JV boys' finish was shaken up by a spill Sam Furness (Golden) took into the stream crossing shortly after the bottom of a technical downhill, allowing Barth and Chris Key (Fairview) to take the lead. Furness finished third only 2 seconds behind Key. The boys joked at the finish about not knowing that the race was actually supposed to be a triathlon.

Darian Fairclough (Leadville) took the win in the boys D2 JV, after a disappointing last-place finish in the previous race, having been plagued by mechanicals. Trey Lopez (Grand Valley) hung on for second.

The largest girls category is JV where Isabella Kromegel-Anliker (Poudre) sprinted to her second win of the season. Elizbeth Curvin (Crested Butte Community) was less than a minute behind for second.

JV Girls
1. Isabella Kromegel-Anliker (132) Poudre 10.4 miles in 1:04:01
2. Elizabeth Curvin (127) Crested Butte Community 1:04:36
3. Ellie Welshon (103) Green Mountain Composite 1:05:13
4. Bella Walz (144) Evergreen 1:06:11
5. Clare Baker (138) Vail Valley 1:06:41

JV Division 1 Boys
1. Kurtis Barth (226) Fairview 15.6 miles in 1:12:34
2. Chris Key (229) Fairview 1:14:27
3. Sam Furness (242) Golden 1:14:29
4. Ian Boucher (273) Vail Valley 1:14:42
5. Wyatt Schwarzkopf (220) Boulder 1:16:34

JV Division 2 Boys
1. Darian Fairclough (324) Leadville 15.6 miles in 1:20:48
2. Trey Lopez (341) Grand Valley 1:21:55
3. Charlie Lynch (317) Evergreen 1:22:46
4. Nathanael Rodd (305) Animas 1:23:50
5. Nathan Reindel (337) Front Range Christian 1:25:09

Girls JV field attacks the start hill. Photo Carrie Dittmer.

Brothers Cormac and Liam Dunn, (Denver East Composite) D2 sophomores, turned heads as they finished first and second, respectively, tying for the series leader position, as the two had switched first and second slots from the previous race.

Sophomore Girls
1. Taeler McCrerey (413) Summit 10.4 miles in 0 1:04:48
2. Claire Vandeyacht (409) Summit 1:05:03
3. Heidi Livran (416) Vail Valley 1:07:38
4. Randi Seiwald (403) Golden 1:10:57
5. Sienna Rahe (405) Salida 1:11:11

Sophomore Division 1 Boys
1. Henry Trowbridge (538) Summit 10.4 miles in 50:14
2. Quinn Tirpak (525) Independent 51:53
3. Dylan Murphy (540) Salida 52:12
4. Mitch White (500) Cheyenne Mountain 52:35
5. Ozzie Scott (527) Crested Butte Community 52:52

Sophomore Division 2 Boys
1. Cormac Dunn (640) Denver East Composite 10.4 miles in 51:15
2. Liam Dunn (639) Denver East Composite 52:05
3. Aaron Selin (621) Front Range Christian 52:09
4. Grant Gipson (619) Leadville 53:04
5. Jonah Howe (636) Grand Valley 53:04

ophomore Girls Podium, Taeler McCrerey (Summit) 1st place, Claire Vandeyacht (Summit) 2nd place, Heidi Livran (Vail Valley). Photo Carrie Dittmer.

Freshman Girls
1. Brenna Hattler (701) Golden 10.4 miles in 1:10:00
2. Jessica Way (708) Green Mountain Composite 1:13:03
3. Jenny Lucke (704) Monarch 1:13:14
4. Lillie Bahrami (711) Boulder 1:21:01
5. Korissa Straub (707) Ralston Valley 1:21:53

Freshman Division 1 Boys
1. Quintin Cook (843) Vail Valley Composite 10.4 miles in 50:00.85
2. Joel Chapman (831) Ralston Valley High School 50:26.69
3. Jack Tanner (813) Fairview High School 51:20.92
4. Cooper Wiens (821) Gunnison High School 51:29.85
5 Kai Sherman (826) Crested Butte Community School 52:32.09

Freshman Division 2 Boys

Bryce Gordon (928) Durango High 10.4 miles in 50:40.99
Charlie Greenberg (914) Durango High 51:02.86
Maxl Freeman (910) Green Mountain Composite 54:15.32
Jackson Kahl (929) Poudre High School 54:25.21
Jack Ellmer (908) Fort Collins 54:43.52

Nial Irwin (Evergreen) focused through the trees. Photo Carrie Dittmer.

Friendly words between competitors and strong support amongst teammates throughout the day evidenced a sense of sportsmanship and camaraderie among the individual athletes as each strove for their personal goals. The third race of the four-race series is October 7th at the Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch, Elbert.