1,200 mountain bikers visit Eagle for Conference Championships on Haymaker Trail | VailDaily.com

1,200 mountain bikers visit Eagle for Conference Championships on Haymaker Trail

EAGLE — The local high school mountain biking teams continued their dominance on Sunday, Oct. 7, with another undefeated performance, sweeping the top spots in their conference.

The Colorado High School Cycling League brings together teams from across the state every other weekend each fall to take on mountain biking courses in locations like Frisco, Steamboat and Granby. This year, the conference championships were held in Eagle on the Haymaker Course, which has been used to host state championships in years past.

The local teams are part of the North Conference, which competed on Sunday following the South Conference championships on Saturday. The Battle Mountain team won the Division 2 spot, with Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and Eagle Valley taking the top two spots, respectively, in Division 3.

"We think of ourselves as one team, that's our overall goal and our philosophy," said head coach Miles Gentry. "We push each other as one big group, and I think it contributes to the kids working hard."

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE

The team has been divided into two squads in years past, and this year enough athletes joined the program to break it up into three teams. High Schools that have more than five kids participating must form their own team, rather than joining up with another school.

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In every race of the season, Battle Mountain and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy won their divisions, with Eagle Valley finishing second behind VSSA. It's an undefeated record in the eyes of Gentry and program director Dan Weiland.

"It's hard to script it any better," Weiland said on Sunday. "In order to win every race in each division it takes really good athletes but it also takes a little luck, too. In mountain bike races you can get flat tires and break chains, and none of that happened."

Weiland said bringing on Gentry as head coach was a great move for the team, as Gentry found a way to bring the repetitive style of interval training to the program and still make it fun for the athletes.

Ian Rogers of the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy team finished third in the North Conference championship freshman race on Sunday, Oct. 7 in Eagle. Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy finished first in the Division 2 category.

"He brought more intensity to the training sessions, which often times I'm scared to do, as I don't want to turn kids away," Weiland said. "But this group of kids seemed to thrive on that, so it's working out."

THE FUN FACTOR

Conference champion Harley Blevins, a sophomore at Battle Mountain High School, attributed her strong results to the fact that she was having fun.

"This season I had a blast, it was a challenge but it was fun," she said. "Last year we were mostly doing rides at quicker paces and recovery paces, but we did intervals this year and it definitely helped."

Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy tops the Division 2 podium with Eagle Valley High School in second at the Colorado High School Cycling League conference championships in Eagle on Sunday, Oct. 7. The teams have went 1-2 in Division 2 in every race this season so far.

The repetitive intervals took an approach to mountain biking that high school athletes may recognize from other sports.

"It was practice makes perfect," Blevins said. "We practiced (on the Haymaker course) a lot which also helped."

Hundreds turned out to see the Colorado High School Cycling League conference championship races in Eagle Oct. 6-7.

The Haymaker course in Eagle is a regular fixture in the Colorado High School Cycling League, but in years past the local team has not had the dominant performances that you might expect from the home team.

This year, that was not the case.

"This was the best I've ever seen us race here," Weiland said. "We've got two more weeks to push into state, so hopefully we'll keep it up."

The season wraps up with state championships in Durango on Sunday, Oct. 21.

Top 5 athletes

MOUNTAIN BIKING CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Colorado High School Cycling League

Battle Mountain
1) Liam Clevenger, Varsity Boys, 4th place
2) Izzy Sargent, Varsity Girls, 8th place
3) Gaja Wilson, Varsity Girls, 10th place
4) Harley Blevins, Sophomore Girls, 1st place
5) David Sanders-Kulesza, Varsity Boys, 13th place

Eagle Valley
1) Aidan Duffy, JV Boys, 1st place
2) Zosia Skiba, Freshman Girls, 2nd place
3) Cole Weathers, Sophomore Boys, 9th place
4) Ian MacFarlane, Sophomore Boys, 17th place
5) Izzy Broughton, Freshman Girls, 17th place

Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy
1) Ian Rogers, Freshman Boys, 3rd place
2) Sabrina Sutter, JV Girls, 9th place
3) Mylo Ornowski, Freshman Boys, 5th place
4) Samantha Lathram, JV Girls, 12th place
5) Mack Dorf, Freshman Boys, 11th