Summit Tigers mountain bike team soars to 3rd place finish in Eagle
The Summit Tigers mountain bike team had one sole mission heading into its last race of the regular season: finish in the top three of the Division 2 team rankings.
All season long, the team has set its eyes on breaking into the top three only to finished right outside in fourth. At every race throughout the season, the team finished directly behind the team’s foe from the other side of Vail Pass — Eagle Valley.
On Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Haymaker Classic in Eagle, all the pieces came together for the Summit mountain bike team. Not only was Eagle Valley beaten by the Tigers on their own turf, but Summit also placed third overall in Division 2 of the Yampa Region with 4,825 points.
As has been the trend throughout the season, Summit was aided by the depth and the talent of the underclassmen on the team. Out of the 24 athletes who raced in Eagle for the Tigers, 16 of them were freshman or sophomores.
Summit also had seven out of its top 10 riders finish on the podium, which helped the team to beat Eagle Valley by 134 points.
“Like a lot of races the usual suspects did really well,” head coach Jeff Cospolich said. “I will say that it looks like half of our points contributors are either freshman or sophomore boys.”
One Summit rider who finished on the podium was freshman Landon Laverdiere. Laverdiere placed second overall in the freshman boys race with a total time of 50 minutes, 26.25 seconds.
“From a standout perspective, Landon had the best race in terms of what he has done in the past,” Cospolich said. “He is a pretty tall Nordic kid and very strong like all the Nordic boys. He is finding his own way riding his bike more and more. He had a super solid race.”
Laverdiere’s performance was impressive on its own, but the freshman also managed to to record some of the best lap splits on the team. Over the two lap, 12-mile, course Laverdiere recorded splits of 24:58 and 25:27, a mere 29-seconds between laps, which is rare in mountain bike races.
“I normally place like eighth,” Laverdiere said. “I was super excited and super grateful that my coaches and teammates helped me.”
Laverdiere brought in the third-most points for Summit with a total of 490 points.
“It made me feel really good because I knew we were on the verge of fourth and third,” Laverdiere said of contributing a large amount of points to the team. “I knew if I had a good race it would help the team do better overall.”
Following Laverdiere in the freshman boys race was Parker Osborn and Will Young. Osborn notched a podium finish by placing fifth overall with a time of 51:39.60 and Young finished in seventh place overall with a time of 52:59.58.
The Tigers’ top two contributors in terms of points were none other than junior Nico Konecny and sophomore Aila Harmala. Both athletes were victorious in their respective races, with Konecny placing first in the varsity boys race and Harmala placing first in the sophomore girls race.
Konecny finished the three-lap course in 1:09:50.02 and Harmala finished the two-lap race in 1:03:02.99.
Junior Stanley Buzek placed 13th in the varsity boys race to score 483 points for the Tigers and be the team’s fourth-highest points scorer on the day.
Eli Love placed third, Isaac York placed fifth and Mason Wescott placed seventh in the sophomore boys race. Rounding out Summit’s third place finish was Fiona Florio, one of the team’s mainstays who placed fourth overall in the freshman girls race with a time of 1:01:11.56.
“I am super excited that it all came together because like I said last time we needed one standout performance in order to really eclipse Eagle Valley,” Cospolich said. “We also needed no one to fall off or have a bad day. There were 24 athletes that were racing — and they take the top 10 (for scoring)— but even those that were not scoring had a good day.”
The Summit mountain bike team now awaits finding out who has qualified for the state championship race in Glenwood Springs on 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.
Cospolich says an announcement from the Colorado High School Cycling League should come on Wednesday night.
Regardless of who does and who doesn’t get to compete at the state race, the Summit mountain bike team will remain focused over the next week in preparation for the team’s final race.
“They just need to stick with it,” Cospolich said. “They just need to keep their eye on the prize and focus on getting in some quality workouts.”
In addition to the Tigers racers, Summit resident Will Bentley placed first in the junior varsity boys race with a time of 49:20.60 while racing for Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy.
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