Varsity Boys Start Alex P Simon D

Varsity riders Alex Purrington, Evergreen and Simon Donnaway, Animas on the hunt for the lead.

Over 600 High School Mountain Bikers Start the Decade of Dirt at Nostalgic Chalk Creek

Colorado League South Conference Race #1 Report

by Kate Rau
Contact: Kate Rau, Colorado League Director,, 720.272.9282


The “Decade of Dirt” began on August 25th with gusto for the South Conference of the Colorado High School Mountain Bike League at the McMurry Ranch. Mount Princeton is the backdrop of this iconic venue where the very first Colorado League occurred in 2010. The McMurry Ranch has generously hosted 29 mountain bike races on their working cattle ranch. Thanks to many sponsors and supporters like title sponsor Toyota, the Colorado League entered the tenth year of building strong minds, bodies, and character through inclusivity and equality.

Taf McMurry and her brother Ken are avid mountain bikers. Brett McMurry the third sibling prides himself in watering the start and finish areas to compact the sandy soil and reduce the dust. The family tends to the course throughout the year, work tirelessly to ensure the ranch is ready for the weekend, and have added new single track over the years. The Colorado League is extremely grateful for their cowboy hospitality for 8 of the 10 tears. "The amount of support provided by the McMurry's and the locals is remarkable. This place and partnership are very, very special," said Kate Rau, Executive Director.

The ranch was buzzing with 639 racers from Colorado and New Mexico while another 733 North Conference racers from Colorado and Wyoming competed in Frisco on the same day. School Superintendents from both local school districts volunteered and cheered on the Salida and Buena Vista teams who have been involved since the inception. In fact, Dan Blackburn, Superintendent of the Salida School District purchased the very first "SBV" sweatshirts in 2010 when they were a regional composite team.


Coaches hang out at the Your Hometown Toyota Stores result tent.

Mcmurry watering 2

Brett and Cheryl McMurry water the start area.

The sunny, breezy day and dusty course was dry yet the infamous "Death Hill" that descends to Chalk Creek was in good condition. A few riders took an unexpected dip in the creek where the course narrowly parallels the water. Riders had time to sort out on a double track road before a sustained punchy climb. Fans traditionally line this section and boisterously cheer which fuels the racers arduous efforts. The twisty trail through sage and ponderosa offered a joyful reprieve. Power riders had a slight advantage as they could hammer through various double track sections throughout the 6.3-mile loop.

The day opened with the National Anthem sung by Buena Vista choir members and mountain bikers, Hanna Volpe and Elena Dunn. Both girls' strong efforts resulted in top 10 point earners for their new Division II team due to an increase in riders. The lucky Volunteer of the Day was Janna Gustafson, Grand Junction who served as a Course Marshal which is critical to race safety. The San Luis Valley team comprised of several schools from Del Norte, Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Crestone earned the day’s best sock spirit competition with their inventive use of socks for water bottle koozies and many creative sock creatures including an enormous snake.

Happy Salida family

Ford Carlos and family enjoy being part of the Salida team established in 2010.

Bott Next Generation

Avery, Grady and Marty Bott members of the Buena Vista team.

Ten years ago, 142 racers lined up at the start for the very first race at the McMurry Ranch in Nathrop. A total of 205 riders participated in the 2010 season. There were 275 Division I racers for this race. Evergreen claimed the most racers for the day with 50. Columbine has the most teachers involved with their team allowing them to effectively recruit members. Many teams experienced a substantial increase in participation since 2018, primarily in the Freshman categories.

Freshman Girls Start

Maddy Glotfelty, Animas off the start line with 35 Freshman girls.

Coaches are essential to the organization as they create a culture of competitive camaraderie, support all abilities, and foster a kindred atmosphere in a sport where all are allowed to race. At least 22 dedicated coaches, 10 from the South, and 16 teams, 8 from each conference have participated every year since 2010.

Junior Liam Maddox was the impetus to establishing a new team at Highlands Ranch. "I've been part of the Rock Canyon team for a few years and I wanted to build a team at my own school." Liam's initiative resulted in a total of 9 riders for the very first race. Impressive! Valor Christian doubled their team and they have fielded at least 1 rider since 2013. The Colorado Springs School and the Link School, based in Buena Vista, are expected to join the party for the first time in Leadville.

Volunteers who have tirelessly contributed to the mission include Steve Bussey, Shelly Franklin, Walt Lee, Rob Noble, and Stephanie Ouren. The Colorado League is extremely grateful for the expert onsite medical services provided by Event Medical Specialists since day one. ACE Security is a new partner as of 2018 and expertly managed traffic on Highway 24 between the race venue and the Chalk Creek campground, a favorite of teams.

Hot Day in Nathrop - Varsity Girl

Annika Sisac, Varsity Legacy Grand Junction rider welcomes a shower at the finish.

Brotherhood of dirt

Taos teammates celebrate a strenuous sprint to the finish.

The small school Division III team competition included teams from across the region. Palisade took first followed by Taos from New Mexico and Basalt in third. Grand Junction squeaked past Thunder Ridge by 2 points for 5th and 6th in a field of 16 teams.

Durango took first while neighboring teams Crested Butte and Gunnison rounded out the three teams on the Division II podium. Highlander Composite was a mere 3 points behind Gunnison. There was only a 4-point difference between Arapahoe and Cherry Creek Composite for 12th and 13th among 17 teams.

Cheyenne Mountain eked out a Gold over Chatfield by only 2 points. Glenwood Springs with only 25 racers completed the Division I team podium with 6 girls earning points out of the 15 scorers. Evergreen had the most girls score with 7.

Maxwell Mirk Cornering

Maxwell Mirk, Varsity, Highlander, rails a corner.

Varsity Girsl Starg

Kate Oldham, CRMS, attacks off the finish line with Sienna Muscianisi, STEM Highlands Ranch on her left.

The girls’ Varsity race was won by Mia Aseltine of Chatfield with an explosive, sprint with 0.01 seconds in front of Rock Canyon, Legacy rider Kennedy Scott. Both riders clocked negative splits on the last lap. Kate Oldham, Legacy, CRMS battled with Taegan Steinfort, Cheyenne Mountain with only 0.03 seconds separating 3rd and 4th.

Hometown Salida racer Olivia Kelly got tangled up in a crash where a few riders washed out in a sandy section at the bottom of a slight hill. Her break lever broke and she took a 10-minute penalty for a bike exchange. She popped back on the course. After finishing she said, "I just went out and enjoyed the ride. I'm glad I did not give up." There were several three-person sprints for 10th through 12th and 17th through 19th in the very solid 27-person field.

Another Chatfield rider, George Poggemeyer took off and never looked back in the Varsity boys' competition. Alex Purrington, Evergreen and Maxwell Mirk, Legacy, Highlander Composite road wheel to wheel most of the race to earn 2nd and 3rd as did Legacy riders Simon Donnaway, Animas and Wheeler Feer, CRMS. Both Varsity categories started off with a bang and are expected to be close throughout the series.

Jesse Lumpking

Jesse Lumpkin, JV, Evergreen knows how to finish it as a Legacy rider.

JV Girl CB Chatfield

JV girls Emmajean Lovett, Crested Butte and Megan Shuster, Chatfield rode strong,

The boys' JV field was packed with 173 racers and the positive sporting behavior exhibited by the field was impressive. Legacy rider Jedidiah Wilkinson, Gunnison, was in a pack of competitors vying for position. Columbine Coach Jason Webb was struck by how he passed with class. "He came up the hill, hammering, and passed about three different riders. He asked each one, swung out wide, and then offered each words of encouragement and motivation for their efforts. He was in the thick of the race and still encouraged other riders," reported Webb.

Avery Aubin, Conifer and Ian Stipp, Columbine wear in a pack sprint with Ben Seep, Cherry Creek Composite, Logan Righter, Montrose, and Max Carroll, Crested Butte. Aubin barely beat Stipp at the line. They were totally exhausted, congratulated each other and said how fun it was to compete/race the whole way. Before the race Stipp felt bold and decided to forego receiving a bottle at the Honey Stinger Feed Zone. He ran run out of water on lap two. He and Aubin were side by side. Stipp commented that he wished he had planned differently. Aubin motivated Stipp to stay on his wheel to the top of the climb with a promise of sharing some of his water. The challenge resulted in Aubin delivering on his promise.

JV Action Shot

JV riders Morgan Crosby, Gunnison and Julian Kowalski, Highlander power of the start.

Ivan Sippy, Durango earned 1st and Nate Gangelhoff, Chatfield raced to 2nd in the JV boys' race. Durango teammates Riley Jaber and Ian Kutzleb fought to the line for 3rd and 4th. Jaber made a special effort to thank Kate Rau, Executive Director at the finish line, exclaiming, "I have so much fun at these races. Thank you so much for putting them on!"

The 45 deep JV girls' field was the largest of the day. Sarah Bevins, Crested Butte, and Hannah Garvey had the closest race of the day with a 0.0061 differential. Ella Vaillancourt, Manitou Springs raced to 3rd. The top-notch timing by RACERITE is critical in determining these neck and neck finishes. Several occurred in this category with Bailey Cioppa, Durango and Emma Barsness, Glenwood Springs pushing for 4th and 5th. Spots 9th through 12th were another narrow finish. Looking through this field it is evident that there is no loss for competitive drive.


Julissa Molter, Sophomore Woodlawn Park was thrilled with her improvement from 2018.

Sophomore Climb w Noisemakers

Sophomore Anders Weiss, Aspen cranks up hill with Montrose riders clanking noisemakers.

Ellie Fisher, Gunnison, earned Gold in the Sophomore girls' competition. With another bunch sprint for spots 2nd through 5th. Alexis Hall, Conifer, and Cheyenne Mountain teammates Thea Babcock and Sophie Trunnell were 3rd and 4th with Abby Hauptmann, Montrose a mere 0.03 seconds behind.

Hometown Buena Vista rider Ace England was ecstatic with a down-to-the-wire sprint with Tor Holm, Taos Composite and Anders Weiss, Aspen in the Sophomore boys' field. "I got to the second lap saw the leader (Anders) and decided I was going to go and leave nothing on the trail. It was a lot of fun. I never thought I'd win a race," said England.

Maggie Holcomb, Durango rode to win the Freshman girls' category with Nora Quinones, Manitou Springs in 2nd. Twins Julia and Maddy Glotfelty, Animas earned 3rd and 4th.

Finn Johnson, Aspen, and neighboring Glenwood Springs rider Corbin Carpenter tested the timing system once again with 0.02 seconds separating them. Kalvin Winder, Douglas County, Matt Cairns, Leadville, and Sawyer Gneiser sprinted for 3rd through 5th.

Scot Banks, a veteran Neutral Support mechanic for the League was very impressed by two Freshman boys who persevered after Scot got them back rolling. They were Kaden Tolsma, San Luis Valley Composite and Kyle Small, Arapahoe. He said, "These kids are so inspiring!"

columbine coach cheering

Columbine Coach Jason Webb dons their traditional crazy costumes for race season.

Yeti Skills 2

Olivia Baudo Castle Rocke rider tackles the Yeti Cycles Skill Thrill Zone.

Throughout the day riders honed their skills in the new Yeti Cycles Skills challenge course. Salida Freshman Jackson Karls was the best male rider and Oliva Baudo a Castle Rock rider earned the top spot for the females.

Landowner Taf McMurry has coached the Buena Vista team for the entire decade. She said, "It is super fun. Everybody is really positive, the turnout's great and the Colorado League crew has set up an amazing venue for us." She continued, "I told a parent as long as you're on two wheels we're family. I feel that all the schools, parents, and riders are here for a positive experience and we all help each other. The camaraderie is awesome." The new mantra of the Colorado League is "Rule #1 is FUN".

The South Conference races the Cloud City Challenge at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville on September 8th. The North Conference heads to Steamboat Springs on the same day.

Full and live results for all categories are always available at HERE.

Heading to Staging w Mt. Princeton

Riders head to staging with Mount Princeton in the background.


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