Sunday, May 24, 2009

NorCal HS MTB Crowns 2009 State Champions

58F91077-EFFA-4D7A-A3A8-78F2BF32C619.jpgThe NorCal HS MTB League wrapped up their season last weekend with a full fledged state championship (NorCal and SoCal this year) up a Boggs:
The first full state championships for high school mountain bikers took place on Sunday, May 17, at Boggs Mountain, Cobb, California, when 374 students from as far south as San Diego and as far north as Redding converged for the California High School Mountain Bike Championships, presented by Touchstone Climbing and Fitness. With 39 teams, including six composite teams, students from more than 50 schools participated.

New faces from the upstart SoCal League made their mark, getting all the way to the top of the results in some categories and showing that although the NorCal riders benefit from the depth and intensity of the competition they have created for themselves, the talent pool covers the entire state.

The six-mile woodland loop through Boggs Demonstration Forest provided a broad ranging test of talent, suited best to the all-round rider with good bike handling skills. The most difficult section was a short, very steep, singletrack climb, called The Wall. Some said the course seemed less technical than last year, but all agreed the swoops, jinks and turns of the singletrack made it a lot of fun. The trails were dry, the dust was up, and it was hot—somewhere in the 90s—for much of the day. The racing conditions were far from easy.

Varsity Boys: John Bennett (El Cerrito) ended up with the series win and the state championship, but on Sunday he was pushed all the way by second-placed Nate Byrom (Nevada Union) who was still hungry for a win in the ’09 series. “This is my third year in Varsity. I got a win last year, I was hoping for one today, and finished 15 seconds behind John Bennett. It’s the closest I’ve been all season,” he said. On reflection he added, “I’m very stoked!”

Varsity Girls: The standout freshman, Shayna Powless (Independent), continued her domination of the Varsity category, adding the state championship to her series title. There was nothing to do but applaud the athletic brilliance of this extraordinary talent, some of whose lap times rivaled those of the male winners. Modest as usual, she said after the race “I’ve trained a lot on courses like this, so I felt well prepared. My main hope coming into the race was that I wouldn’t crash. I almost did a couple of times. I was hoping for a top three result, but I’m surprised and happy to win it.”

Junior Varsity Boys Division I: Freshman Bryan Duke (Salinas), racing in only his first NorCal season, made it five wins for five races, finishing with a perfect score as well as the state and series titles. Even more remarkable, his first two lap times were close to or better than John Bennet’s.

Junior Varsity Boys Division II:Three riders exchanged the lead in the battle for line honors, and eventually Andrew Taylor (Contra Costa Composite) re-asserted the authority he had imposed on this division throughout most of the series with three wins, including this one. He claimed the state championship as well as the NorCal series.

Junior Varsity Girls: In one of the biggest surprises of the championships, the steadily improving Courtney Crosta (Woodcreek), managed to hold off series champion Ruth Winder (Independent). Victoria Yoham (Marin Catholic) finished third.

Sophomore Boys Division I: Having recovered from the sprained ankle that slowed him at round four, Drake Pirates rider Roman Brockley powered to a convincing win in the championship and series. Mason Bond and Jeremiah Newman, both of Nevada Union finished second and third respectively, mirroring their results in the series.

Sophomore Boys Division II: SoCal riders Peter Morris and Brady Kiss shone in Soph Division II, taking first and second places in considerable style. Ryan Erler (Marin Catholic) finished third.

Sophomore Girls: Drake rider Sofia Hamilton continued the run of top form she started at round four, and fulfilled the wish she stated there by winning another race – this time the state championship. Morganne Endicott (San Ramon) finished second and won the series title. Lana Nilsen (Salinas) was third.

Freshman Boys Division I: A haircut for Isaiah Rapko (Berkeley High) underlined the importance of this race to the frosh I series leader. “The NorCal races are always important. They’re pretty big in terms of mountain biking, and they’re nationally-known now. So it’s very important for me to win,” he said. Apart form cutting his hair to reduce the effects of the heat, Rapko cooled his body temperature by applying an ice pack to his neck before the race. His season-long rival, Kyle Luther (Folsom), once again was on his heels, pushing Rapko as usual to overdo it or make an error.

Freshman Boys Division II: If Herculaas Botha (San Marin) was offered the win at only one race in the series, surely this would have been it. “It’s a nice change from getting second at every other race,” he quipped at the finish after sealing his series win with victory at the state championship. His super-sized rival, Jordan Vanderstoep (GBK Santa Cruz) once again made it tough for the compact Botha. Adam O’Camb (Miramonte) was third.

Freshman Girls: Series winner Sofia Gomez Villafane (Los Gatos) wasn’t sure if she’d make it through the championship race. “I’ve only had three days of training in the past three weeks, and I was feeling sick. I just kept going, but it was like hell out there. I didn’t feel good until the last mile. I was scared I wouldn’t finish,” she said. Asked about her championship win, she said, “It feels amazing. My coach told me I am the first ever freshman state champion!” Second-placed Rainee Chandler (Salinas) had a very different experience. “It was really fun,” she said. “In the beginning I could see Sofia between the trees, but then I stopped looking and focused on what I was trying to do. was climbing really well and passed me a few times. I pushed to get to the top of the final descent ahead of her then was able to stay clear. That was the best part of my race,” she said. Mackinzie Stanley (Drake) took third place. The top SoCal rider was Leila Carrillo (Newport Beach), who finished a worthy 11th in the field of 17.
Full results and photos are available online.

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