Trapani leads Dirt Demons in state race
Glenwood Springs junior Lucca Trapani led the results tally for the seven Dirt Demons competing in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) State High School Mountain Bike Championship on Sunday in Eagle.
Athletes had to qualify in the top half of their division in order to advance to the season finale. Truly a title race, it’s the only event of the fall competition season when the top riders from the North and South conferences line up together. The Demons had a record number qualify for state, with 10 athletes in just the third year for the squad. Due to injuries and schedule conflicts, only seven Demons competed in the final race, however.
The Eagle Haymaker is a league favorite, featuring a 5.7-mile course, which climbs 500 feet in elevation per lap. The trail incorporates a touch of everything from fast, flat lower sections past hay fields, several moderate climbs, a few rock bridges, winding berms, fun rollers and a black-diamond slalom descent to the start/finish area next to the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink complex. Course conditions consisted of “hero dirt” due to a light snowstorm the day before which helped keep the dust down and the surface grippy.
Sunday morning proved sunny and dry, but quite cold for the 8 a.m. freshman boys start. Erik Novy has displayed a big talent for racing in his debut year, with three top 5 finishes in the regular season. However, he was unable to repeat those stellar results in the bigger, faster championship field and had to settle for 29th out of 100 starters, which were divided into two heats. Teammate Kawak Miranda, who also had a very good inaugural season with three top 20 finishes, came in 45th place.
Glenwood senior Mark Richardson, who made consistent gains throughout the season and qualified for his first championship, came in 83rd in the junior varsity boys race. Telford Underwood finished just behind him in 84th place in a crowded field of 148 racers divided into two heats.
Sophomore Lizzie Barsness capped off another strong season, placing seventh out of 75 junior varsity girls. Barsness dominated as a freshman in 2016, winning three of four regular season races. She then moved up to the junior varsity girls division in 2017. She easily rose to the higher competition level, consistently turning in top 5 finishes throughout the regular season. She was pleased with her result and looking forward to racing at the varsity level in 2018.
All but one division contested by the Dirt Demons covered two laps of the course. In the final event of the day, the varsity boys endured over 90 minutes of intense effort while covering four laps of the challenging course. Lucca Trapani was seeded in eighth place due to a successful 2017 debut at the varsity level, where he nabbed three top 5 results throughout the regular season. But, he was hesitant coming in to this particular race venue, since he had had some bad luck here before. Flats and mechanicals thwarted him on each of three previous attempts to finish in the state meet in the past two years. However, he vanquished the demons haunting him and put in a strong performance to finish in sixth place overall, and top junior, out of the field of 66 riders.
“I was thinking about it too much and almost convinced myself that I was cursed in Eagle,” Trapani said afterwards. “It feels really good to have all my training come together, along with a little good luck, and get over that hump. Now I know I can finish well here, and I’m looking forward to next year.”
Senior Jacob Barsness finished in 33rd place and is the first legacy rider for the Dirt Demons. The league recognizes student-athletes who have raced through all four years of high school with a special gold-colored number plate emblazoned with the “legacy” moniker. Barsness raced for the Aspen High School team as a freshman and then switched to Glenwood in his sophomore year when the team was founded. He fought through mechanicals and mishaps of his own this season but finished strong in his final high school race.
The Dirt Demons club will now segue into the cyclo-cross season and travel to events throughout the winter. All high school students are welcome to come out and give it a try. Contact Head Coach Randy Tuggle at email@example.com.
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