Regionals in Eagle next for local prep mountain bikers
Championship season is on the eastern horizon for Roaring Fork Valley high school mountain bike teams.
On Sunday, members of the Crystal Region of the Colorado High School Cycling League will travel to Eagle for the regional championships in the Haymaker Classic. They will traverse a highly technical, six-mile track for at least two laps — three for varsity riders — with a trip to state on the line. Local teams will compete against up to 26 others in what at least one of them considers their home meet.
“Eagle Valley High School has a team, so it’s technically their home course,” Glenwood Springs High School Dirt Demons head coach Jeanne Golay said. “But it’s one of the closest ones to us. The fact that our riders can sleep in their own bed in the morning, you know, get up and just drive 30 minutes down the road to a race is really a benefit for us, an advantage for our team and all the Roaring Fork Valley teams.”
Glenwood enters off the heels of a third-place finish at Snowmass on Sept. 25 in its five-team division, which was won by Colorado Rocky Mountain School of Carbondale.
For regionals, they’re sending legitimate contenders for state in Chloe Lutgring, Samantha Meskin and Dante Humphreys, who are points leaders in varsity girls, sophomore girls and freshman boys classifications, respectively, this season.
Oliver Patrick is ranked 23rd in boys despite racing only once so far this season. Cole Geiger is fourth in junior varsity boys after reportedly leading by more than 40 seconds at Snowmass before Crested Butte’s Lance Lakoski — the current classification points leader in the region — surpassed him when he got caught in a group of riders from the wave released ahead of them.
Colorado Rocky Mountain School won the freshman girls race behind Nina Villafranco, the classification’s points leader, got a second-place medal from Canyon Cherney in the freshman boys and a bronze from Maia Cullwick in the junior varsity girls races at Snowmass. Cullwick is currently ranked third in her class, as is Eli Nolan in junior varsity boys.
Roaring Fork High School will take part in its first regional competition since joining the club league. The Rams formed their squad for the 2020 season, which went digital due to the pandemic. Junior Corbin Carpenter leads the new squad into its first state-qualifying race currently 20 points behind varsity boys leader Markus DeWire out of Aspen/Basalt.
The sophomore boys, however, is where Roaring Fork is making a mark with four racers currently in the top 10: Samuel Friday (third), Devon Blanchard (sixth), Ephraim Nesbitt (ninth) and Gabe Hazleton (10th). Previously, Rams who wanted to ride had to join the Glenwood or the Aspen/Basalt team.
“They’re all really excited for the opportunity to represent their school,” Roaring Fork head coach Kyle Crawley said. “It has been a huge change for a lot of these kids. They get to wear their school colors. They get announcements.”
The regional race will challenge the riders differently than Snowmass’. Golay said that the Snowmass course involved more climbing, while Eagle’s is more downhill and technical. According to points leader Lutgring, Eagle’s will be harder as well.
“I’m really looking forward to the next race in Eagle,” Lutgring said after winning in Snowmass. “I’ve ridden it a lot, and it’s a tough course, too.”
To qualify for state, a rider must compete in two regular season races — including the regional — and finish as a top scorer within their category. Varsity takes the top 24 racers from both male and female brackets per each of the state’s four regions. Junior varsity, sophomore and freshman take the top 40. The state finals will take place Oct. 23-24 in Durango.
The race begins at 8 a.m. on Sunday at the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. The other southern region, Piedra, races on Saturday. More information is available on Colorado High School Cycling League’s website.
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