Dirt Demons continue JV dominance at Haymaker Classic in Eagle
The Glenwood Springs Dirt Demons mountain bike team put a stamp on the regular season finale, notching a number of top 10 finishes in Eagle on Saturday at the Haymaker Classic.
The demanding 6.3-mile course featured short, punchy climbs, gaining 504 vertical feet per lap. A favorite among National Interscholastic Cycling Association veteran racers, the course had plenty of sweet, rolling single track lines, culminating in the notorious Corkscrew downhill.
The technical finishing descent is in full view of the rowdy finish-line crowd, which made their favorites known with vuvuzelas and cowbells. The South Conference championships were on the line, and the Dirt Demons rose to the challenge.
The day started with the junior varsity boys race, bracing cold, fall temperatures at 8:30 a.m. Expectations were high for Demon standouts Kawak Miranda and Erik Novy, and they didn’t disappoint, taking fourth and seventh, respectively. Lance Weidemann came across the finish line in 30th, while Henry Barth finished 34th, just one day after setting a course record while winning the Pantherfest Invitational cross-country meet in Delta. Elijah Page brought home the Demons in 129th place.
Glenwood was well-represented in the combined girls race where freshman favorite Emma Barsness finished in third place, followed by Ella Lindenberg in 14th and Kailey Murphy in 17th. On course at the same time, Nadia Shea finished 26th in sophomore race.
Next up was the freshman boys race, in which Oliver Patrick broke through to a season-best sixth place in the 130-rider field, followed by Christian Landeros in 13th place. Aiden Corcoran finished in 31st place, Aiden Senn was 39th, Sam Spence 58th, Elias Gardner 92nd and Jacob Martin had a strong first lap but was unable to finish.
The sophomore boys were led by Austin Villareal in 17th place, followed by Spencer Tuggle in 34th and Grant Anson in 75th. Reflecting later on his solid performance, Tuggle credited a last-minute equipment choice with giving him a technological edge.
“After the pre-ride, I decided to change my front tire to a little bigger knobby, and it turned out to be the bomb,” Tuggle said. “I had great traction on the tacky, flowy dirt.”
The varsity boys and girls raced cleanup on the day, represented by Dirt Demons Lucca Trapani and Lizzie Barsness. Trapani fought through illness to finish in 26th place, while Barsness showed intense focus on her way to sixth place.
“I really had to concentrate on my breathing today, which helped me keep a steady pace”, said Barsness, a junior.
After their first full season on the mountain bike circuit, many of the freshman parents expressed their pleasure with the NICA race scene.
Ashley Villareal said, “It’s fun to watch the kids race hard, but then have fun hanging out with their teammates afterward.” Her husband Gabe agreed, and also noted how mellow the cycling parents are. “It’s a really nice vibe here, because the parents aren’t as hyper-competitive as in some other school sports.”
Eighteen Dirt Demons — nine of whom are freshmen — have qualified for the state championships on Oct. 20-21 in Durango, where the North and South Conferences will combine.
Several Dirt Demons finished in the top 10 in their conference championships, including Emma Barsness (third), Miranda (fifth), Novy (sixth), Patrick (eighth), Lizzie Barsness (ninth) and Trapani (10th).
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It was a close game, but after some thrilling back-and-forth plays the Rifle Bears were able to pull off the 28-20 victory over The Academy on May 1.