Dirt Demons close out regular season in style at Chalk Creek Stampede
The Glenwood Springs High School Dirt Demons mountain bike team finished the regular season with several top finishes Saturday in Nathrop.
The race was the last stop on the four-event regular season schedule in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) South Conference of the Colorado League. The Chalk Creek Stampede was held on the private McMurry Ranch which extends into the foothills of the Collegiate Range in South Park. The challenging course climbed 520 vertical feet over a 6.1-mile lap. There was a mix of technical single-track and double track ranch paths. Most vexing to many of the athletes were a few sections of soft sand, especially just before the finish line each lap.
First to race in the cool 40-degree Saturday morning was the freshman girls.
Glenwood’s Lizzy Barsness was called up first to the line sporting the coveted Leader’s Jersey due to her two wins in her debut season as a mountain bike racer. She did not disappoint on Saturday, winning once again in a time of 1:04:51 for two laps of the course. Not only did Barsness win her division by one and a half minutes over the runner-up, she beat the sophomore girls winner’s time by one minute and five seconds as well.
“Partway through the race, I could see the sophomore girls leader’s jersey ahead of me,” Barsness said of the older girls who started earlier. “That really motivated me to go harder, and so then I caught up to her and passed her.”
Barsness’ fellow Dirt Demon, Elle Murphy, placed 11th with a time of 1:17:21. Murphy, a two-sport athlete this fall in mountain bike and cross country, has been very consistent. Several of her top-15 finishes have come the day after doing a cross country meet. In the overall season standings, Barsness finished first and Murphy was 12th in a field of 22 freshmen.
Next up was the junior varsity boys race, in which four Dirt Demons competed. Breaking through to a second-place finish was sophomore Lucca Trapani in a time of 1:17:54 for three laps of the course. Teammate Jacob Barsness was 10th, in 1:22:22. Austin Burt finished 41st in 1:29:12, and Mark Richardson was 60th in a time of 1:32:39.
Trapani finished ahead of his three chase group companions, who stuck together for most of the race.
“They [the group of 3] weren’t going fast enough, so I attacked and opened up a gap,” Trapani said. “One rider passed me on the final descent, but I got around him on the flat, went as hard as I could and didn’t see him again.”
Trapani finished third overall in the season standings. Barsness came in sixth, Aaron Smith finished 27th, Richardson 82nd and Burt 124th out of 172 JV boys.
The Dirt Demons were well-represented with three competitors in the freshman boys race. Lance Weidemann, of Roaring Fork High School, had a solid race, finishing 12th with a time of 58:25 for two laps. He was followed by Ash Stolley in 57th place at 1:12:07, and Elijah Page was 72nd with a time of 1:20:00. Weidemann ranked 14th in the overall season standings, Stolley 97th and Page 101st out of 131 freshmen.
The final race of the day saw the lone sophomore boys contestant, Elan Bouchet, have a season-best performance. Finishing in 23rd place with a time of 1:00:33, Bouchet ranked 34th in the overall season standings. Telford Underwood was 102nd overall out of a field of 122 sophomores.
The Dirt Demons finished fourth overall in the team standings out of 28 Division II teams.
The team has more than doubled its ranks since its league debut last year, as mountain-biking continues to grow in popularity among high school students. Next up for them is the State Championships on Sunday, Oct. 23, located at the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink, where the North and South conferences will combine.