Columbine Costumes Casse Taylor

Cassie Taylor, Varsity Legacy, Boulder maintains her focus as Columbine crew cheers in costumes.

State Championships Pinnacle of Pedal Power and Team Spirit

Colorado League Haymaker Classic #5 Race Report

by Michelle Jensen and Kate Rau
Contact: Kate Rau, Colorado League Director,, 720.272.9282

2017 Season Award Recipients
Vail Daily Coverage

The State Championship race included 622 racers of which 204 were females comprised a record 33 percent. Teams from Casper, WY to Taos, NM participated with 22 Division 1 and 48 Division 2 teams participating. This annual festive gathering of the North and South conferences took place in Eagle, Colorado on the Haymaker and Extra Credit trails specifically designed to host a Colorado League event. Individual contests included Varsity, JV, Sophomore, and Freshman categories for both males and females. Team results are a compilation of points across these eight fields.

The new and improved start/finish area was expertly sculpted for this premier event and was lined with bleachers which provided spectators easy viewing of the action. Fans lined the corkscrew as racers railed the berms and demonstrated intense focus amidst thundering cheers. For the fifth consecutive year, the Town of Eagle rolled out the red carpet to ensure the venue and trails were in tiptop shape for those who worked hard all season to earn the opportunity to race. Special thanks to the Town of Eagle, Open Space employees John Staight and Halsey Lucas, and Jeremy Gross, Events and Marketing Coordinator, who were onsite throughout the weekend to guarantee that the fruits of their labor were maintained for every race category. Members of Hard Scrabble Trails Coalition, Momentum trails, and the local teams Battle Mountain High, VSSA, and, newly formed, Eagle Valley spent many hours prepping the course.

Jeremy Gross

Jeremy Gross, Events and Marketing Coordinator throws socks to the crowd.


Halsey Lucas, Town of Eagle Open Space, waters down course between start waves.

The Roadhouse Hospitality Group and the local Alpine Bank hosted the annual picnic and awards ceremony where 17 individuals or organizations that contribute to the vibrant community in outstanding ways were acknowledged. A completed list of award recipients is HERE. New in 2017 was the Golden Pick award, sponsored by John Shipp of Roadhouse Hospitality, for the team that logged the most trail hours.

Blake Novy, the brother of Erik Novy, Freshman, Glenwood Springs performed the National Anthem with heartwarming mastery before the brisk 8:00 AM race start for the 100 Freshman boys. A few celebrities attended the series finale. Durango native and Olympian Howard Grotts, David Krimstock, Giant Pro mountain biker, and Golden High alum Reade Warner swept the Varsity boys. BMC Pro road racer TeeJay Van Garderen came by to check out the scene with the Aspen team.

Middle Park Socks

Middle Park rocked their socks.

Team Summit Socks

Summit Tigers takes home lots of Justin's Nut Butter for winning the sock contest.

The Durango and Animas teams engaged in their annual ritual of pre-riding the course in costume. Columbine coaches wore an array of zany getups, including a giant pickle as they shouted encouragement to every racer. The amusing team sock contest contributed to the carnival atmosphere. Team Summit was “all in” not only with every member wearing knee-high tiger striped socks but by decorating their tent with custom-made stockings complete with a huge tiger stocking. Middle Park and Gunnison also decorated their team tents with silly socks in addition to wearing them. From Stargate's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the rainbow of knee-socks this contest was challenging to judge and the enthusiasm was off the charts. After much deliberation, the judges picked Summit as the winner. To ease tinges of sadness for the many seniors participating in their last high school race, several grandparents and relatives attended to commemorate this last hurrah.

D1 Team Podium

Division 1 Team podium. Fairivew, 1st, Boulder 2nd, and Golden 3rd.

Team Competition

The Division 1 team competition changed throughout the day and Fairview ultimately took the team trophy ahead of Boulder by just 36 points. This broke a 6-year winning streak for the Panthers. Golden held onto 3rd place while Steamboat slipped ahead of Animas by 7 points for 4th and 5th. Hometown team Battle Mountain was 6th with only 11 points behind. Salida placed 8th and like Fairview, their female squad earned the top 8 of 10 scoring positions.

Durango took the Division 2 team victory by 100 points over Green Mountain. Summit trailed by a mere 9 points for 3rd. Local teams VSSA and Eagle Valley finished 4th and 12th respectively. Douglas County earned 5th by only 28 points ahead of Highlander Composite. The closest team challenge was between Rocky Mountain and Manitou Springs with 2 points separating 26th and 27th. Many of the smaller teams were delighted to have riders qualify for the first time such as Stargate and Ridgeview Academy.

The Slingshot award is sponsored by Your Hometown Toyota Stores the series presenting sponsor. The male and female racer who make the biggest leap from their call-up position to their final individual place that day earn this title. JV racer Sofia Forney, Green Mountain won this award for the second time as she finished 4th with a call-up position of 67th. Sam Blakeslee, JV, Aspen had another very impressive race moving up 104 places finishing 49th for his second time donning the red jersey.

Maddie Jo and MG

Maddie Jo Robbins, Durango and Madelyn Gerritsen, Golden Varsity conference leaders.

Ian Catto

Ian Catto, Varsity CRMS rails a berm.


The Varsity female field included 28 racers with 7 Legacy Seniors who raced since they were Freshman. They rocked some flashy socks given that their 12:20 PM start was pleasantly warm compared to the subfreezing temperatures that greeted the Freshman boys. These riders are experienced competitors and were raring to go. The leading rider changed every lap with a different face descending the fan-friendly corkscrew. North Conference leader, Madelynn Gerritsen, Golden demonstrated her skills and clocked the fastest female lap time at 25:58. Maddie Jo Robbins, Durango continued her winning streak earn the State Championship jersey. Petra Shmidtmann, Nederland, rode strong for 2nd, and Madelynn Gerritsen, Golden pushed hard to 3rd.

Robbins is a Sophomore was undefeated for the season. She commented, “I didn’t feel good the entire race until all the adrenaline I got from hearing all the fans caught up with me in the last half lap.” Schmidtmann, Nederland was impressive and earned the Slingshot award at the North Conference Championships two weeks prior. Only 11 seconds separated Fairview teammates Tea Wright and Ada Urist for 4th and 5th. Senior Maya Zarlingo, Animas edged out Kailea Barth, Fairview Legacy racer. Maysa Flom, Dakota Ridge dashed to the finish line 2 seconds in front of Eden Saylor, Columbine for an exciting finish for 17th and 18th.

Hannah Frie into Crowd

Varsity racer Hannah Frei, Cheyenne Mountain flows to the finish.

Varsity Girls Celebrate

Close friends and Varsity Legacy competitors Willow Taylor, 105, Boulder, and Sara Francone, 101 East.

The Varsity male race started in the heat of the day with a stacked field of 66 racers. The anticipation was high with Ethan Moyer, Steamboat and Zac Richardson, Douglas County on the start line in their respective conference Leaders' jerseys. This Varsity field demonstrated depth and experience with 31 Legacy seniors competing. Sam Brown, VSSA logged the fastest time of 22:19 for lap 1 of 4 and was a serious contender on his home trail. "He certainly knows how to turn a bike,” commented Wheat Ridge Cyclery mechanic Chris Pepper watching Brown rail the corners. Vying for the State Champion jersey, none of these riders were taking it easy. Warm winds kicked up, increasing the challenge. The top nine riders set a blistering pace.

On the second lap, there was a new race leader with both conference champions Richardson and Moyer in front trying to spread out the 7 others in hot pursuit. Drew Sotebeer, Rock Canyon was chasing alone in tenth. Sander Elliott, CRMS was standing on his pedals as he came through the second lap looking strong, however, he encountered several flats. Having Grotts as the sweep was a silver lining for Elliott's disappointing finish.

The leaders changed throughout the 4-lap race. Richardson pulled away passing the Honey Stinger Feed Zone on lap 4, his fastest. This was typical for this undefeated Senior, who rode negative splits every race. Less than a minute back was Ethan Wright, Fairview followed by Levi Gavette, CRMS and Alex Campbell, Green Mountain. North conference leader, Ethan Moyer, Steamboat rounded out the top five.

Varsity Boys Start

Varsity boys charge off the start line.

Junior Varsity

The Junior Varsity boys this was the biggest field of the day with 148 participants. There were no hesitations down the switchbacks as these riders applied their skills. Legacy Seniors accounted for 16 of the championship competitors. Many racers tried passing on the last strategically placed berm. Some took the inside line and learned that their lost momentum did not pay off.

Junior Varsity boy’s race for first was hard fought and was won by a mere 5 seconds as North Conference Leader, Bjorn Riley, Boulder outsprinted Riley Amos, Animas, South Conference Leader. Cobe Freeburn, Durango placed 3rd less than a minute back. Ryan Stowers, Boulder, George Poggemyerr, Chatfield and Eli Smith, Battle Mountain raced for 4th, 5th and 6th with only a 13-second spread.

A fan commented, “The last effort up to the finish was brutal.” Liam Clevenger, East raced to 10th, and said, “This was my best and hardest effort. I love this course and I’ve been riding it all summer.” Lane Meyer, Natrona County - WY was the fastest Wyoming racer and finished 23rd. Estes Park Seniors stopped after the finish line to snap photos with their coaches to remember their season. Glenwood Springs finishers Mark Richardson, a Senior, and Teleford Underwood gave one another fist bumps and hugs celebrating their 2017 efforts.

JV Boys 3

JV boys jockey for before the singletrack.

Shivering at the 9:20 AM start in short sleeves and shorts, the JV girls warmed up quickly. South conference leader, Ruth Holcomb, Durango led the pack of 75 racers that included 5 Legacy Seniors. Tai-Lee Smith, Summit challenged Holcom who, eventually, secured the Colorado League State Championship title. These two freshmen showed that they were without a doubt the top two by racing negative split times. Boulder’s Madigan Munro was less than a minute back for 3rd. Sofia Forney, Green Mountain rushed passed Isabella Sargent, Battle Mountain with 2 seconds between 4th and 5th.

Harris Burton, Cheyenne Mountain and Ellie Malfeld, Highlander Composite gave one another high fives, after sprinting to the finish with Burton taking 20th by hundredths of a second. Legacy rider Shannon Kittlesen, Evergreen for wore a festive tutu for her final high school race. There was plenty of riders from both the North and South conferences in the Junior Varsity categories providing exciting competition as racers did not know what to expect from those in the other conference.

JV Girls

Abigal Molnar, JV Green Mountain, one of quadruplets who all race.

Tyler Mell FZ

Tyler Mell, JV Legacy Columbine grabs feed from his Grandfather.


Starting minutes behind the Varsity riders, the 104 Sophomore boys launched off the start with intense speed. They knew it was critical to gain position early in the 2-lap race. On top of having the end of season race jitters, they were competing against unknown contenders. Isaac Sanders, Highlander Composite took the holeshot and looked over his shoulder as if asking, "Where is everyone?" Sanders had the fastest lap time of the Sophomores. Boulder’s Cooper Lull, ultimately earned the championship title as he caught Sanders on the second lap. Max Kreidel, Boulder, claimed silver with Poudre’s Lucas Lenoch following sixteen seconds back for the bronze. Ben Gonzales, Evergreen provided some flare racing in a tutu and unicorn decorated helmet.

Sophomore girls staged shoulder to shoulder new to the larger field with the combined conference race. Hannah Drummond, Highlander Composite, South Conference Leader and Elsa Bates, Summit, North Conference Leader took a decisive lead at the start. Pushing one another faster for the entirety of the race, Elsa Bates, Summit bested Boulder’s Wren Taylor. Gigi Jensen, Boulder was barely off the pace by 3 seconds. A crash in the finishing berm resulted in Drummond finishing 4th. Ella Johnson, Boulder and Summit’s Aislinn Wehrman charged through their first lap with undeniable determination finishing 8th and 9th respectively. While the altitude was less of a challenge than in Leadville or Granby, the course was more technical and several riders realized that this was a determining factor in their results.

Annika Sisac

Amber Lobato, Sophomore, Grand Junction approaches a descent.

Charlie Schrader Silver Creek Soph

Charlie Schrader, Sophomore, Silver Creek rolls through a berm.


Before the Freshman girls start, Littleton Coach, Sue Lloyd, offered phenomenal advice, “Choose the vibe that you want to put out.” Freshman girls were lucky to have the sun out. Conference Leaders, Emi Cooper, Steamboat and Cassidy Hickey, Independent were full of nervous energy as the rolled up to the start. Bayli McSpadden, VSSA was first down the corkscrew that was very familiar to her with the two conference leaders hot on her trail. Immediately before finishing her first lap after the 180-degree berm, Noel Forney, Green Mountain stood up and chased the 3 leaders yet finished 4th. Hickey took the win by 11 seconds with her Spiderman socks. Cooper and McSpadden earned silver and bronze. Heidi Martin, Manitou Springs was thrilled with her respectable 5th place. Clara Landreth, Littleton was cheered on when she started her second lap. Some students athletes have the goal to be on the podium while many others participate to attain a personal best. Boisterous encouragement from coaches and fans provides a vital boost to their accomplishments.

With the early start time of 8:00 and a frigid 25 degrees, the Freshman boys were the first to face the State Championship course in Eagle. The ground was tacky and in perfect condition to shred. While the start was smooth and fast the first punchy hill leading into single track saw a bottleneck and caused some riders to stop as the group maneuvered for position. Racing down the corkscrew descent and through the start-finish shoot, the top five rode in a pack together as a chase group snaked down the hill.

Steamboat’s Cam Owens gave a fist pump as he crossed the finish line in first. Liam Graves-Vangilder, Golden worked hard to stay ahead of third place Riley Cotton, Silver Creek. Coming into the last berm together, Robbie Day, Evergreen, Casey Myers, Middle Park and Cameron Roberts, Rio Grande Composite gave the crowd something to see while they raced for 10th-12th places. That last berm proved to be a challenge for many riders throughout the day. Ralston Valley, Jonas Kahlia lost one position but then rallied to earn it back before the finish line. Catching up with Riley Cotton, Silver Creek Kahila said he felt good throughout the race commenting, “The rock features at the beginning were faster so he hopped over them. He will definitely be back next season.” Lucas Hartman, Fairview said “It was an amazing course because of how flowy it was and how focused you had to be. There was some frost on the bridges but it wasn’t a problem.”

Cold Start

Freshman boys were prepared for the early morning cold temperatures.

Maddie Porter Salida

Maddie Porter, Freshman, Salida navigates corkscrew amid fans.

The scene on the hill was more than exciting for families, friends, and coaches but it did not compare to the thrill of the challenge for the riders standing on their pedals, attacking with prowess. Thunder Ridge racer, Kennedy Scott’s blood splattered knee-high socks reminded one of the saying, “blood, sweat, and tears” because in some cases it takes all that to get through what these inspiring student-athletes put themselves through. At the end of the season, they relish their friendships, recognize their achievements, and recall the joyous, memorable journey making it all worth it. For those who made it to State Championships, this would be only the second or third time lining up against the opposing conference. The added element of unfamiliar competition amplified the kinetic energy.

The 2017 season closed with a total of 1,262 participating racers from 85 teams. We are extremely fortunate to have a solid, fun-loving crew of riders, coaches, families, and supporters. The 2018 race dates are posted on the calendar HERE.


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