Lutgring 4th, Carpenter 6th as state High School Mountain Biking Championships descend on CMC-Spring Valley
The scene at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus on Saturday resembled a mix between a World Cup ski race and soccer match.
Sounds of cowbells, vuvuzela horns and even a few disco-themed songs wafted in the pre-storm wind, as more than 840 mountain bikers circumnavigated the rugged trails and fans lined the course, many in ‘70s costumes, for the Colorado High School Cycling League Mountain Bike State Championships.
The winter storm that hit Saturday night and into Sunday condensed what was to be a two-day event into a single day.
Athletes representing 86 teams from across Colorado, as well as from Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming, Spearfish, S.D. and Taos, N.M. took part in boys and girls categories for freshmen, sophomores, junior varsity and the marquee varsity races.
Locally, six varsity racers cracked the top-20 in their respective events, led by senior Glenwood Springs Dirt Demon Chloe Lutgring, who finished fourth among the girls. Roaring Fork-Carbondale senior Corbin Carpenter was sixth in the boys race, closely followed by Colorado Rocky Mountain School sophomore Canyon Cherney in seventh and Roaring Fork junior Samuel Friday, who had a breakout race to finish eighth.
“My goal was just to go all out at the start, because if you don’t have a good place going into the single track you’re kind of screwed,” said Lutgring, who came into the state championships seeded third.
She knew the state-level competition would be stiffer, and wasn’t disappointed with her fourth-place finish on a dry, dusty, chewed-up course that presented some extra challenges.
“I almost went down on one lap, but I was able to catch myself,” Lutgring said. “I tried not to focus on saving energy, just because there are so many places on the course to recover. But I was happy with my result and didn’t leave anything out there, so that’s all that matters.”
Freshman phenom Kira Mullins from Columbine completed the three-lap, 14.4-mile course in 1 hour, 19.07 minutes to win the state championship. Durango’s Riley Houston burst past Leadville’s Rose Horning down the finish chute to take second in 1:19:42 to Horning’s 1:19:43, and Lutgring was a close fourth in 1:19:49.
Roaring Fork’s Carpenter was the league points leader for the boys coming into the state competition and was among the favorites to win a state championship.
After being sick last week, however, he entered the race less than 100%.
“I gave it my all, and I’m still pretty happy with it,” he said of his sixth-place showing in 1:06:29. “I just wanted to try to stick behind the lead pack and see if I could make some moves, but that didn’t go as planned.”
Eventual champion Nicholas Konecny from Summit and independent rider Kade Kreikemeier shot out of the cannon to take a commanding lead on the first lap. Konecny ultimately had the edge with a time of 1:03:38, followed by Kreikemeier in 1:03:41, Eagle Valley’s Landen Stovall in third (1:05:03), Steamboat’s Aidan Haak in fourth (1:05:12), Benjamin Bravman of Golden in fifth (1:05:21), then Carpenter.
Carpenter said he was surprised and excited to see Friday among the top riders.
“I’m so proud of him, he’s doing really well,” Carpenter said of his teammate.
Friday eventually fell off the pace some, finishing eighth in 1:07:13, just behind CRMS’ Cherney in 1:07:01.
“I came in (ranked) 15th, so I just wanted to do a little bit better than that,” Friday said. “I had a good mindset to try to get out there without thinking about it too much. Then I started to think about it.”
With fatigue setting in, he faded on the final lap but was happy to hold on for a top-10 spot.
“I was so sore,” he said. “My arms were asleep, my legs were burning, and it was really hard. But, yeah, I’m happy.”
Additional top-20 finishers among local competitors included CRMS sophomore Lucas Berry and Glenwood sophomore Dante Humphrey, who were 16th (1:08:26) and 17th (1:08:36), respectively.
CMC bike boogie
Despite the weather challenges, the first-time mountain bike race venue was a hit, said Glenwood Springs Dirt Demons coach and CMC Foundation Regional Development Officer Jeanne Golay.
“I would say it far exceeded our expectations,” Golay said. “We know what to expect now when this crazy, colorful circus comes to town.”
CMC has a verbal commitment from the league to host another race next fall, possibly even state again.
“The league is just amazing,” she said. “They come in with their turnkey and say, ‘show us your venue, show us your fields, and we’ll do the magic.”
In the future, the progressive trail system could allow for an easier course for the lower race divisions, and a more-difficult course for varsity, Golay said.
And the setting was perfect for spectating, she said, with the mass start on the north soccer field and team camps set up in the middle
“I saw so many people from the Roaring Fork Valley who came up to check it out, from former team members and parents to business owners in the community and some people who’ve just recently moved here and didn’t even know about Spring Valley,” she said.
During the post-race banquet, CMC President Carrie Hauser announced that the Spring Valley campus plans to host a collegiate-level club mountain biking team starting next year.
The team would participate in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference, and it’s another opportunity for high school athletes to continue their sport into college, Hauser said.
“We’ve hosted events at the Leadville campus, and Spring Valley with its natural terrain and the work we’ve put into the trail system, it just makes a lot of sense,” she said.
Colorado High School Cycling League Executive Director Kate Rau from Boulder said Spring Valley was an ideal venue for the state championships.
An ideal venue needs to have challenging trails, a good place for teams to stage, parking, emergency access, nearby camping and adequate infrastructure in town, she said.
“It couldn’t have gone better,” Rau said. “We’re so grateful for Colorado Mountain College to put this whole venue together and really rallying around our needs.”
The league’s partnership with CMC as a race venue at Leadville began in 2015, and talks started then about building a race course at Spring Valley, she said.
“And here it is, dreams do come true,” Rau said. “We said, if you build it, we will come. And we did.”
Reporter and Interim Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-384-9160.
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