Summit Tigers mountain bike team takes 2nd at 3rd consecutive race

Summit Tigers High School Mountain Bike Team/Courtesy photo
Mateo Bonta competes in the junior varsity boys race at the Cloud City Challenge in Leadville on Sunday, Sept. 24.
Summit Tigers High School Mountain Bike Team/Courtesy photo

The Summit Tigers mountain bike team continues to perform at a high level, with the team notching its third straight second-place team finish of the short Colorado High School Cycling League season.

Two weeks ago, Summit placed second overall at the Showdown in the Boat race at Howelsen Hill and the team was able to back up that performance with another second-place finish at the Cloud City Challenge on Sunday, Sept. 24, at the Colorado Mountain College campus in Leadville.

Although the Tigers did not get the opportunity to host a home competition during the high school’s homecoming week, the team still enjoyed competing close to home on the large network of trails in the Leadville area.

Most athletes in attendance completed two 6.2-mile loops for a total of 12.4 miles of mountain bike racing while the varsity boys and girls completed three loops for a total of 18.6 miles.

Cool, fall morning temperatures started off the day of racing with the junior varsity boys being the first group of athletes to line up their tires behind the start line. 

The junior varsity boys race featured a group of four Summit athletes with junior Nicolas Bonta displaying his fitness and placing seventh overall with a time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 12.06 seconds.

Bonta was soon followed by his older brother, Mateo Bonta, who placed 11th overall with a time of 1:02:53.48. Junior Reid Litwiller and junior James Sowers also managed to finish within the top 30 with Litwiller placing 14th (1:04:03.75) and Sowers finishing in 29th place (1:09:00.10). 

Following the success in the junior varsity boys race, Summit put six athletes in the top 25 of the freshman boys race. Leading the way was Trent Granshaw, who battled alongside Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy’s Freedom Bennett at the front of the race. 

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Bennett completed the first lap in 29:37 with Granshaw following in 29:49 before Bennett pulled away over the final lap. Bennett placed first in 1:00:08.07 and Granshaw placed second in 1:00:44.81.

Devin Mumford placed fifth (1:05:53.11) before a pack of three Summit athletes rounded out the top 20. Braydon Ernst finished in 16th (1:13:43.83), Austin Johnson followed in 17th (1:13:43.83) and Gabi Bonta placed 18th (1:14:50.16).

Jude Kaltenback placed 23rd in 1:17:14.53.

Summit’s success on the trails continued in the junior varsity girls race, where sophomore Fiona Florio managed to maintain her season points leader biking jersey by placing first overall in a time of 1:05:03.20.

Florio completed the first lap well in front of the rest of the field. Florio carried a 33-second lead over Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy’s Katie McDonald after lap one and extended her lead to close to two minutes over the final lap. 

With the win, Florio secured her second individual win of the season after earning the junior varsity girls race title at the Frisco Bay Invitational on Aug. 27.

Senior Samantha Myers also had an impressive performance, placing 18th overall (1:47:51.86).

Summit Tigers High School Mountain Bike Team/Courtesy photo
Gabi Bonta, front, and Braydon Ernst compete at the Cloud City Challenge in Leadville on Sunday, Sept. 24.
Summit Tigers High School Mountain Bike Team/Courtesy photo

In the sophomore boys race, the Tigers were led by a core of strong cyclists with Noah Dippenaar recording the highest finish in seventh (1:00:57.35) before Axel Crawford and Cater Niemkiewicz crossed the finish line in 13th (1:05:02.75) and 14th place (1:05:10.60), respectively. 

Finn Brown recorded lap splits of 28:56 and 32:36, but received a five minute penalty which dropped him out of the top 15 and into 20th place with a total time of 1:06:33.21.

Summit’s day of racing was bookended by the varsity boys and girls races where all four competitors finished within the top 30. 

Junior Eli Love was the top athlete for the Tigers in the varsity boys race, placing 19th overall (1:31:32.60), before junior Mason Wescott crossed the finish line in 20th place (1:31:43.66) and junior Isaac York finished in 29th. (1:38:57.44).

Junior Aila Harmala snagged her first varsity podium finish of the season in the varsity girls race. Harmala latched onto the main pack over the first lap of the course, before splitting consistent times over the final two laps.

Harmala clocked lap times of 33:20, 33:54 and 33:51 to place third in 1:41:06.22. Steamboat Spring’s Mary McLarnon placed first overall (1:36:10.78) with her teammate, Eva Minotto, placing second.

For the third race in a row, Summit placed second overall in Division 2 of the Yampa Region with 4,783 points. Harmala and Florio led the team in points with 556 and 540 points, respectively.

Summit was topped by Steamboat Springs with 5,214 points and followed by Stargate with 3,867 points. 

Summit will conclude its regular season schedule with the Haymaker Classic in Eagle on Saturday, Oct. 7. The event will begin with the junior varsity girls race at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude with awards around 5 p.m.

After competing in Eagle, Summit will travel to Glenwood Springs to compete in the Spring Valley Scramble which will serve as the cycling league’s state championship race for the season. The event will take place from Oct. 21-22.

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