Colorado-press-2019
 
Varsity Girls off the start

Madigan Munro, Boulder Legacy leads Varsity girls off the line.

Decade of Dirt Culminates at Durango Mesa Pursuit State Championships

Race #5 Report

Contributed by Matt Muir
Legacy Rider Contributor:
Gavin Thornton, JV, Monarch, North Conference
Edited and produced by Kate Rau
Contact: Kate Rau, Colorado League Director, kate@coloradomtb.org, 720.272.9282

State Championship Race Results
State Championship Photos

The Decade of Dirt came to a close October 19th and 20th at the Durango Mesa Pursuit with a stunning vista outside downtown Durango, Colorado. Thanks to the many inspiring student-athletes, dedicated coaches, committed families, professional race crew, eager volunteers, loyal sponsors, and generous supporters; the Colorado League capped 10 years of fostering healthy habits in youth, strengthening family bonds, and building community.

"You cannot help but smile when you experience the electric energy. Watching the community rally to support one another, seeing riders overcome adversity, and witnessing every achievement celebrated is very special. The inclusive team atmosphere where boys' and girls' accomplishments are combined and respected equally, coupled with the incredible efforts expended, results in building strong minds, bodies, and character. Every race I am astounded by the positive impacts of the seemingly simple act of riding a mountain bike," Kate Rau, Colorado League Executive Director, commented.

Tunnel

Varsity Aidan Duffy, Eagle Valley chases Peyton Wilkerson, Estes Park.

Special thanks go to host sponsors, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and the Durango Business Improvement District. Thanks to presenting sponsor, Your Hometown Toyota Stores. Team travel scholarships were funded by Alpine Bank and Fort Lewis College underwrote the annual season picnic.

Held on private property by special agreement for only the State Championships, the figure-eight course consists of a 6.5-mile lap with 664 feet of climbing per lap and a base area sitting at 6950 feet of elevation. The unique flyover and tunnel at the intersection of the figure-eight is a highlight for all. Dry conditions reigned across Colorado as several months of drought resulted in dusty soils, loose rocks, and blown out corners.

Cool on Saturday with a high of 60 degrees, Sunday’s high only reached 50 degrees with swirling winds and blowing dust. The League Race Crew soldiered on through it all, from below freezing mornings to swirling dust devils in the afternoon.

The Colorado League continues to grow. The season’s stats include 1777 riders from 79 teams across 160 schools with 777 coaches between Taos, New Mexico and Casper, Wyoming. State Championships included 821 riders from 75 schools. The League extends its thanks to the employers and families who support volunteer coaches by conceding time and flexibility to the coaches who accompany kids across three states.

RVHS Travel Scholarship

Mike Burns, Alpine Bank Regional President presents travel scholarship to Ralston Valley.

Cortez Coaches Aloha

High Desert Composite from Cortez coaches flaunt their hawaiian wear.

More important than numbers, the League’s ethic of inclusion was demonstrated in innumerable ways including the special "Chase Race" held for San Luis Valley sophomore Chase McGee on his custom-built tricycle. He has cerebral palsy and teammates enthusiastically guided him over the flyover.

Laura Clark, Durango High choir member opened up the weekend with a soulful version of the National Anthem. Sunday, the performance was a duet by Isabelle Herringer and Ethan Craig. They even complied with a request for "Happy Birthday" to some race crew staff.

La Plata County Mounted Police kept law and order at the venue but did nothing to interfere with local Durango and Animas riders winning four of the eight individual championships, a typical Durango welcome to a mountain bike race. Local shop, Mountain Bike Specialists, provided critical neutral support as several riders were plagued with mechanicals. The mechanics responded quickly to keep riders racing.

Chase Race Finish

Chase McGee crosses the finish line with his San Luis Valley team.

Lucas Lenoch Slingshot

Lucas Lenoch, Varsity Legacy, Poudre wears the Slingshot jersey he earned in Eagle.

League Executive Director Kate Rau made special note of the 100 “Legacy” riders who completed 4 years of high school racing, through good, bad, and everything in between. Rau said, “Impressive are the many Legacy JV riders who raced every single race this season knowing full well that they would not qualify for states. These kids are very inspiring - no fanfare, no podium, merely pushing it every weekend for a 156th. This is a testament to their grit and their coaches and teams who support them.” A total of 151 seniors toed the line.

The Yeti Cycles Skills zone occupies riders when not racing and test their abilities. Saturday, Malachi Seeling, Compass Montessori and Paige Hauptman, Montrose took the crown. Sunday, Wren Taylor of Boulder High, celebrated her 18th birthday and took the female Yeti Skill Zone title for her last race in high school. Ayden Heffernan, Fossil Ridge was the male winner.

The weekend’s Toyota Slingshot awards went to Durango’s Ruth Holcomb, Cobe Freeburn, and Willow Lott and Manitou Springs’ Cole Bruce. All these riders had diminished start positions for one reason or another but persisted nonetheless to have the greatest improvement relative to their start.

The venue was overflowing with Aloha spirit in heart and theme. Grand Valley area teams Grand Junction, Fruita Monument. and Palisade captured the spirit contest. Buena Vista Columbine and Lakewood were certainly in the running. Many sponsors were busy interacting with the crowd and had front row viewing of the action. They included the Bailey HUNDO, Fort Lewis College, Optic Nerve, Osprey Packs, Colorado Mountain College and Western Colorado University.

Jillian Lukez

Jillian Lukez, focuses on fun her final race as a Varsity Legacy, STEM Highlands Ranch.

Makena Likewise

Fountain Valley Legacy Varsity racer Makena Likewise power pedals.

Team Competitions

Aspen got off their skis long enough to win the small school Division III category followed by Basalt just down the road and Fossil Ridge in third. Palisade and Grand Junction in fourth and fifth kept it close five places deep among schools with 16 riders or fewer.

Durango unsurprisingly won Division II. There’s something in the water in Durango. Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy (VSSA) took second. VSSA can now turn its attention to ski season and give Coach Nesline a break from cheering on his kids. Mountain bike Valhalla, Crested Butte, took third coached by 2018 South Coach of the Year, Torrey Carroll, despite the absence of injured racer Emma Jean Lovett a consistent scorer. Manitou Springs, Gunnison, and Highlander Composite bit at the heels of the three podium teams.

Among the large schools, it’s almost not fair. Boulder, with 81 racers qualified and registered for State Championships and a League record nine-member varsity girls team elbowed out everyone else for its eighth title in 10 years. Credit Boulder Head Coach Ben Boyer, whose daughter Annika finished her four year Legacy career in Durango, for his relentless ethic of positivity among his kids and coaches. Fairview’s Head Coach Andy Feeney has built a team that rivals Boulder in every way except sheer numbers. The Knights took second and annually refuse to surrender to its crosstown Boulder adversary. Summit got ahead of Golden for third, an accomplishment with only 18 riders qualifying for the Championship race. Summit's Head Coach Marla Dyer-Biggin has been earned the 2018 North Coach of the year. Salida hit the limit with 12 girls scoring of the total 15 scorers.

D1 Podium

Division I team podium, Boulder, Fairview and Summit.

Freshman Boys

Freshman and JV categories started off the weekend with the Sophomore and Varsity closing the season finale.

Steamboat Springs’ Caleb Haack took the holeshot and then strategically forced Fort Collins’ Kade Kreikemeier to set the pace except for the downhills where Haack took the lead back in order to prevent Kreikemeier’s strong descending from creating a gap. Haack overcooked a blown out-corner, crashed, and sprinted to regain Kreikemeier while Mack Otter from Durango snuck up on the duo from behind. Then Kreikemeier crashed, Otter closed on Haack and attempted a pass within sight of the finish but Haack held the singletrack line, counterattacked, and hung on until the line for the win at the end of two laps. Landen Stovall of Eagle Valley took fourth and Fairview Knight Connor Scott had his best race of the season arriving fifth.

Referring to first through third-place finishers, Haack said, “They were all super nice and we all did some fist bumps and congratulated each other at the finish. I just love the way people treat each other. It makes it more fun to ride.”

Freshman Girls

Durango’s Willow Lott didn’t feel like company so she rode off the front and took first by nearly a minute finishing two laps in 1:04:28. Megan Heath of Basalt took second, Ellie McLean of Durango third. Heath and McLean rode wheel to wheel with Heath sprinting to shake McLean at the line. Julia Glotfelty of Animas packed another local on the podium, and North Conference Champion Ella Brown of Boulder finished fifth. Nola Stewart, Golden, and Anna Respet, Palisade played leapfrog for 2 laps with a photo finish with 0.32 seconds separating 11th and 12th.

green mountain Freshman Girl

Addison Bair, Freshman, Green Mountain descents techy section.

Wilson Moyer Duck

Wilson Moyer, Freshman, Lakewood corners with his lucky ducky.

Junior Varsity Boys

The anticipated showdown between Durango’s Ivan Sippy and the North Conference trio of Boulder’s Vin Hludzinski and Chuck Jones and 7220 Laramie Speedgoat Tristan Smith never materialized. Sippy dispatched his rivals on the first lap and stayed clear for the rest of the race. Hludzinski, on his way to the Pan-American Games for cyclocross, faded uncharacteristically, leaving Jones and Smith chasing. Jones pulled for the first lap when, as Jones said, “Tristan just came around me and I was like, whoa.” Smith got a small gap and held on for second. Jones arrived third followed by Andrew Lydic of Boulder and Ian Groom of Durango.

It’s not unusual to hear admiration for riders like Smith from Wyoming. He toes the line against kids from cycling towns such as Boulder and Durango and never backs down, manifesting hard work and Wyoming cowboy mettle in his racing.

Trevor WYOX

Cheyenne, WY JV Legacy Trevor Hughes churns up a hill.

Finn Oshea Rocks

Finn O'Shea, JV Legacy, Arapahoe tackles Carbon Junction.

Junior Varsity Girls

With over 80 JV girls racing, the League split the category into two waves similar to the underclass boys, to provide a premier race experience. Middle child Maggie Holcomb of Durango finally found a constructive outlet for her energy by starting in the B wave five minutes behind the A wave and crossed the line fourth out of all racers to take a commanding win. League Race Reporter Matt Muir and family friend, said, “I’m so glad Maggie found a place for her energy somewhere other than screaming at the top of her lungs and summoning concerned phone calls and visits from local neighbors on shared family trips among other behaviors I love so much in Maggie.”

Lauren Aggeler of Durango took second after also starting in the B wave. Crested Butte’s Sarah Bivens and Summit’s Victoria Uglyar took third and fourth overall after starting in the A wave and churned at the front the entire race. Emma Barsness of Glenwood Springs took fifth.

Kindal Kott

Kindal Kott, JV Natrona County tackles the ramp up the flyover.

Kelsey Nelson

Kelsey Nicholson, JV Durango is thrilled with her 12th place finish.

Sophomore Boys

At the top of the gully climb on the first of two laps, Boulder’s Johnny Stanzione had only about 15 seconds over his chasers. By the finish, Stanzione rolled across the line almost two minutes ahead of his chasers. Electrified, Stanzione was out of the saddle and pedaling hard his second time under the flyover. Mack Dorf of VSSA arrived second, admirably chasing Stanzione all season long, never relenting. Henry Moore of East, Camden Burke of Fairview, and Davis Duncan of Centaurus rounded out the podium.

Sophomore Girls

Cold morning temps and blowing winds met the sophomore girls and Summit’s Marin Ward rose to the challenge to take the win. The lead riders were strung out one by one, fighting the head-crosswind back up the grade towards the flyover. They ended up trickling in behind Ward; Emma Borchers from Basalt, Alexis Hall from Conifer, Sofie Hill from Heritage, and Mary Alyce Collins from Fossil Ridge.

Montrose Leo Burton SB

Leo Burton, Sophomore, Montrose sprints to the finish.

Sofie and Alexis

Sofie Hill, South Conference Champion, Heritage, and North Conference Champion Alexis Hall, Conifer.

Varsity Girls

Though not an emphasis, The Colorado League produces national and international caliber racing. Boulder’s Madigan Munro wasted no time demonstrating it. A 4-year Legacy Senior, Munro evidenced her physical and mental maturity by racing tactically all season long to meter her effort across a long club mountain bike and cyclocross calendar. Then came Durango. In Durango, and without injured Durango rider Maddie Jo Robbins competing, Munro showed what sixth place at the Junior World Championships looks like. By the flyover after the start, Munro had a gap of a few seconds. On the first trip up the gully climb, her chasers were out of sight. On the second trip, she had a comfortable lead and settled into a dominant but sustainable pace delivered in smooth fashion. Munro crossed the line first by over three minutes in the three-lap race.

Munro said, “This was an amazing way to end my high school career surrounded by an inspiring and wonderful community. I couldn’t have achieved all I have without the hard work and support from all of my teammates and coaches. Every year I have grown as a rider and person. I have learned new skills and pushed myself to new limits thanks to the tough competition in the North and South. I’m so grateful to have been a part of the Colorado League and I can’t wait to see where my cycling takes me in the future!”

The first group to chase Munro was made up of independent Sofia Forney and defending State Champion Ada Urist of Fairview. Durango’s Ruth Holcomb wended her way up to the two chasers from a lower start position. By the last climb up the gully, Holcomb had clawed into second place only to get ambushed by Forney and Urist. The order at the line remained with small gaps between each rider, Forney, Urist, and Holcomb. Urist also won the League’s Exceptional Female Athlete of the Year Award. On top of doing most of the work in the second chase group, Boulder’s Michaela Thompson broke free of her competitors to take fifth and the last podium spot.

Olivia Gordon

Olivia Gordon, Varsity Legacy, Crested Butte in pack at the start.

Sage Davis

Sage Davis, Varsity Legacy, Animas pedals with purpose.

Varsity Boys

Animas’ Riley Amos put on his own show in the varsity boys four-lap race. Amos assumed the lead from the start followed by Robbie Day of Evergreen and North Conference Champion Peyton Wilkerson of Estes Park. By the second lap, Amos’ pace had shattered the groups behind him leaving lone pursuers or small groups. Then it was Day who on the last climb up the gully went for broke and bridged to Amos with pain written all over his face. Day attempted to pass multiple times before the crest of the climb only to have Amos parry each thrust. On the final third of the finishing lap, Amos had exhausted Day sufficiently to arrive solo at the line and win in front in his hometown, arms and hands punching the air.

Amos said, “Thank you to the Colorado League and to Durango Devo for growing me into the racer and person I am today over the past 4 years. The crowds and cheering out there on Sunday were like nothing I’ve ever felt from a U.S. race before. So many races to remember with so many great people that keep pushing my limits and this sport forward.”

Day followed a mere 15 seconds back. Wilkerson took third after wisely settling into his own rhythm and resisting the temptation to stay with Amos’ exclusive tempo. Fairview’s Oliver Boyd timed his taper well to have his best race of the season and finish third on the biggest day of the season. Eagle Valley’s Aidan Duffy rode a smart race as well, resisting the siren song of Amos’ singular speed that broke anyone around him.

Riley and Robbie

Robbie Day, Varsity Evergreen takes the lead. Riley Amos, Varsity Legacy, Animas catches Day for the win.

Ethan Graves

Ethan Graves, Varsity Legacy, Douglas County rails a corner.

Olivia Gordon, Varsity Legacy from Crested Butte and her father Nathan expressed how impactful her experience was during the past 4 years. She was buoyed by the attitude where, "No matter what jersey you are wearing everyone cheers for you." It was a special weekend with her Aunt from Denver and Grandfather from Kansas City present to share the joy and confidence she gains from the mountain bike community.

Monarch Legacy rider Gavin Thornton reflected on his final race with the Colorado League.

This was it. Seven hours in the car each way proved to be a substantial block of thinking time. Where did I want to finish, where would I start, how would I feel, what will the weather be like? Every rider shared the same questions, and for a lot of us, this would be our very last highschool race. The last time we are told not to overlap tires, the last time we are told not to pass in the start chute, and the last time we are reminded of the rules.

This would be the first time I started in wave two, the very front line. The first race in Frisco, I started 4th, and took the holeshot only to blow up minutes later. This time had to be different, and it was. Teammate Evan Wilson and I took the jump on the start, taking spots one and two in wave two. The A wave had a five-minute lead, so we had plenty of room in front of us and held our own pace. Crossing the line for lap one a group of four of us had broken off from everyone else, switching lead many times in order to create a pace line to counter the wind. Every time we came through the flyover, people shouted, screamed, and cheered. Lap two was different, everything sounded like pure commotion and a large blur, but I was able to pick out one voice; Jack Swift. “Hold your pace, you're doing good.” Very simple yet very true. I was in the zone, and looking back I was on track to blow up since we had just put a dig in on the rest of the field.

For me, there were four checkpoints on the course. The finish line, coming under the flyover, the guy screaming through the megaphone, and the kid squatting with his mouth open on the other side of a berm yelling, “Dust me.” We had passed all of this twice, and then it hit me. I had done 19 races, 47 Laps, and finished every single one. I had one lap left. One lap to close out my high school cycling career, one lap to go as hard as I could and pass everyone in sight. Hitting the finish line in a sprint coming from behind another rider, and falling inches short. Well not exactly, I had caught the back half of the A wave and had 5 minutes on all of them. Finishing 43rd, exactly where I did last year at states, I surprised myself since I had started over double this position back.

I laid on the ground, looking up at the sky, thinking; 12 weeks ago I quit cycling, only to be motivated and encouraged by the Monarch Team to continue, and I had finished the season. I was done. Everyone began to have the same realization, that we were done. As a rider, and now an Intern for the league, I think I speak for all of us with a large thank you.

Thank you for creating opportunities, bright futures, comfortable environments, competitive environments, and a safe place for anyone, no matter what the situation, to come participate. Thank you to the coaches of every team, for setting aside your time to volunteer, for driving us everywhere we needed to be, giving us a place to sleep the night before, catering to our last minute needs when we forget something, and your patience throughout the season, even though all of us can be a pain. The biggest thanks going to Kate Rau, Colorado League staff, and race crew for everything they continue to do for all of us, and all of the time they invest to impact thousands of lives.

The Colorado High School Mountain Bike League goes to 11 beginning in August 2020. Look for more two-day racing formats as the League accommodates continued growth in numbers and aims to maintain quality racing.

JV Boys B Wave Better

JV Boys start.

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