Summit Tigers mountain bike team places 4th in Steamboat Springs
After two hard weeks of training, the Summit Tigers mountain bike team traveled to Steamboat Springs Saturday, Sept. 24, to compete in the Colorado High School Cycling League’s third race of the 2022 season.
Titled Showdown in the Boat, the race was made up of competitors from throughout the region racing through the mountain bike trails that surround the historic Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
Leading the way for the Tigers and getting his first win of the season in a Colorado Cycling League race was junior Nico Konecny. Konecny placed first overall over longtime friend and rival Landen Stovall from Eagle Valley.
Konecny biked a strong and smart race, putting his skill on display as he cruised through the three-lap, 17.4-mile varsity boys race. He completed all three laps within two-and-a-half minutes of one another, which is a hard feat in the sport of mountain biking.
After recording laps of 22:50, 24:59 and 23:03, Konecny crossed the finish line with a total time of 1:10:53.19. The time was fast enough to beat out Stovall by a margin of over 20 seconds.
“He had a much smarter race and really turned it on the last lap,” head coach Jeff Cospolich said. “Nico is a class act, so it was great to have him on the top step of the podium.”
“I felt really good,” Konecny said. “This is probably the first time after nationals that I felt back to my normal self. I was really excited to be able to push past what I think was my limit. That’s what I was able to do in this race. I think I rode pretty smooth and pretty good.”
Following the performance of Konecny was junior Stanley Buzek, who placed 20th in the varsity boys race with a time of 1:24:04.69.
In the sophomore girls race, Aila Harmala successfully followed up her performance from Leadville with her second ever first-place finish. Harmala finished the two-lap, 11.6-mile course with a time of 1:05:11.66 to beat out second place by over five minutes.
In her dominant win, Harmala recorded lap splits of 32:16 and 32:54, rivaling the lap splits seen in the varsity girls race and the latter part of the junior varsity boys race.
“She, too, had a second lap that was within a minute of her first lap,” Cospolich said. “I am very proud of her.”
With the win, Harmala maintains her position as the sophomore girls points leader for the Colorado Cycling League race series in the Yampa region.
After the heavy scoring of Konency and Harmala, the Tigers also received points from sophomore Mason Wescott and freshman Parker Osborn.
Wescott finished on the podium in the sophomore boys race third place overall with a time of 55:36.08. Osborn also finished on the wide podium in the freshman boys race, placing fourth with a time of 53:45.25.
“One of the standout rides in my mind was Parker Osborn, one of our strong Nordic freshman boys,” Cospolich said. “He had a great race and he improved his ride. … He has not been on the podium before so that was super exciting.”
Also in the freshman boys race for the Tigers was Landon Laverdiere, Will Young and Finn Brown.
The trio all finished one after another in a span of two minutes. Laverdiere placed seventh in a time of 54:41.99, Young finished in eighth in 54:52.63 and Brown placed ninth in a time of 56:17.27.
The freshman boys had a total of 1,795 points, showing both the youth and depth of the team.
Rounding out the talent for the Tigers was Fiona Florio in the freshman girls race. She placed fourth overall with a time of 1:05:06.77.
Florio recorded lap splits of 31:10 and 33:56, but it was not enough to place within the top three, as Katherine Mcdonald from Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy placed third with a time of 1:03:05.08.
Summit local Will Bentley — who races for Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy — also raced at the Showdown in the Boat. Bentley placed first overall in the junior varsity boys race with a time of 50:25.48.
The Tigers placed fourth overall in the Yampa region behind Eagle Valley in third, Steamboat in second and Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy in first.
Cospolich was pleased with his team’s second fourth-place performance, but he is hoping that they can notch a podium finish at the Haymaker Classic Sunday, Oct. 9, in Eagle — the last race before the state mountain bike race.
Cospolich and his coaching staff believe all the necessary pieces are there to have a podium finish in Eagle, but it will require a little bit more from his team in order to make it happen.
“We honestly have to have one more breakout performance where the athlete finishes quite a bit higher than they were staged,” Cospolich said. “There are alot of heavy hitters, especially on the younger side of our team.”
The Haymaker Classic will start at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 9 at the Mountain Recreation Eagle Pool and Ice Rink in Eagle. The state mountain bike race will take place in Glenwood Springs from Oct. 22-23.
The top 25 racers in the varsity category and the top 40 in every other category will qualify out of the Yampa region to the state race.
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