Sophomores Claire Vandeyacht and Henry Trowbridge dominated their respective races to emerge state champions in the Colorado High School Mountain Bike League on Sunday in the North Fruita Desert Classic.
The two pedaled their way to the top amidst 351 total racers turning out from Colorado and Wyoming. It was the fourth and final race of the season for the fall series and took place at a new venue for the Colorado league. A dozen racers competed from Summit High School.
"Our racers were very excited to race in Fruita," team assistant Fred Newcomer said. "The course was in great shape. They were able to open it up and hammer for the entire course. I'm so proud of all our racers. To see them push their limits, support each other and get a couple of state champions this year. It's great to see their efforts produce great results."
Champions were determined by season standings, based on the best three of four races. Bonus points were awarded for racers who participated in all four races as well as specifically for the final race.
Overall, the Tigers placed sixth out of 12 teams in Division 1 for 2012.
The course was longer than the previous three races, at 6.9 miles, but it was buttery, smooth single- and double-track with a few short, steep climbs that demanded big chain-ring power. Big gears may be foreign to the Tiger team, but the racers stepped up to the challenge.
Vandeyacht was among 13 racers in her category, including Taeler McCrerey (third place) and Christa Gutzel (eighth place). Vandeyacht's win helped her clinch first overall, with McCrerey taking a very close second place. Gutzel overcame a crash and broken derailleur during Saturday's pre-ride to place seventh in the series overall.
Trowbridge has maintained first place in his division throughout the season, and the final race was no different. Derek Hill also raced in the category, placing 36th of 43, putting him in 29th overall.
In the freshman boys' Division 1 category, Logan Ramsay finished 19th of 38 racers, 18th overall. Connor Hintgen suffered a broken spoke which punctured his tire and retired him from the race, but because the Fruita race was dropped to determine his season standing, he placed 23rd for the season. Wyatt LaFrankie placed 25th in Fruita and for the season. Marcus Sandberg finished in 35th place for the race and 45th for the series.
"This season was amazing," Vandeyacht said. "Our team did great and even had some personal bests. I can't wait to race again next season with the team."
Assistant coach Marla Dyer-Biggin commented, "I knew we would have a strong team, but I didn't know we would have such impressive race results. The students get along so well, the parents and sponsors have given us tremendously valuable support and the coaches have so generously given their time to guide these students to be strong, skilled and thoughtful racers. I feel lucky to be a part of this team."
The winter will be a break for the students, but come spring, Summit Mountain Challenge starts up, as does the Rocky Mountain Endurance State Series, which also hosts a junior league. Head coach Thane Wright heads up the endurance series.
"The team really came together this year. It was inspiring to see the students become passionate about cycling," he said. "I'm very excited about next year."