Dirt Demons send record number 17 riders to state championship in Durango
The Glenwood Springs Dirt Demons had a record turnout at the high school mountain bike state championships last weekend in Durango, sending 17 riders to the state race.
The Mesa Pursuit is located south of downtown Durango. It introduced a new host community and course for the racers, who eagerly hit the trails starting on Saturday morning. The 7.1-mile course featured two separate loops linked by a wooden flyover ramp. The first loop incorporated part of the South Rim Trail and the second loop was on part of the Carbon Junction Trail. All told, each full lap had 647 vertical feet, including technical switchbacks and tacky flow trails.
The state championships is the only time all season where the North and South Divisions compete against each other. The top half of riders from each conference advance, resulting in a much higher level of competition. Saturday featured freshman, and junior varsity divisions, with varsity and sophomores competing on Sunday.
The first Dirt Demon to cross the line in the freshman boys race was Oliver Patrick, who finished in 15th place. Christian Landeros was 37th, Aiden Corcoran finished 51st, Aiden Senn placed 124th, Jacob Martin placed 125th, and Sam Spence finished 132nd.
Emma Barsness, a favorite in the freshman girls race, was the highest-placed Dirt Demon on the weekend with a 7th place finish. Ella Lindenberg came in 32nd, and Kailey Murphy finished in 48th.
Next up was the junior varsity boys, represented by Kawak Miranda in 14th place, followed by Henry Barth finishing in 35th place. Immediately following Barth was Erik Novy in 36th, while Lance Weidemann finished in 78th place.
Sunday morning brought more racing, starting with the sophomore girls race. Nadia Shea was the lone Dirt Demon in the race and finished 36th. The sophomore boys were represented by Austin Villareal, who finished in 57th place, while Spencer Tuggle placed 106th.
The varsity girls were represented by Lizzie Barsness, who was on track to a strong finish when she crashed on the second of three laps. She then finished in 25th place.
“This race was fun,” said Barsness. “There was a lot of competition with the north riders and the new, unfamiliar course was challenging. A lot of us felt like freshman again, racing on a trail without much of a clue as to where we were going; It was really fun.”
A record number of 17 Dirt Demons competed at the State Championships, in contrast to the team’s humble beginnings four years ago when only four riders contested the entire season.
Coach and team founder Randy Tuggle was thrilled with the team’s popularity, which has grown each year.
Expressing pride in the team’s performance at the championships, Tuggle said, “It was a great experience for them because they learned a lot about what it takes to be competitive at the state championships level.”
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As a new transplant to the area, each week I will feature a trail within the Garfield County limits. For this inaugural week, I’m highlighting Glenwood Springs’ own Atkinson Canal Trail.