Summit Tigers mountain bikers grateful for return of Frisco Bay Invitational
Brothers Lasse, Nico Konecny win varsity, junior varsity races
More than 20 of Summit County’s best high school mountain bikers hosted the traditional home event Sunday, Aug. 29, at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area with the return of the Frisco Bay Invitational.
The annual event, the first race of the Colorado High School Cycling League, was canceled in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Seeing everybody out there — all the team tents, the camaraderie and spectators — it was heartwarming, to say the least,” Tigers head coach Jeff Cospolich said.
Saturday and Sunday’s races at the Frisco Bay Invitational weren’t fully traditional, as the action did not feature mass starts. Rather, Cospolich said the league opted for time-trial starts because the league did not have data from last year to categorize riders.
Brothers Lasse and Nico Konecny won the boys varsity and junior varsity races, respectively. Lasse Konecny, a senior fresh off a top-10 finish at last month’s Breck Epic, won the two-lap, 16-rider varsity boys race with a time of 50 minutes and 9.9 seconds — nearly a minute ahead of runner-up Johnny Stanzione of Boulder.
Nico Konecny, a sophomore, won the two-lap, 102-rider junior varsity race with a time of 51:15.25, which was also about a minute ahead of his nearest competitor and would have ranked him in third place in the varsity division.
Each lap at Sunday’s races consisted of 5.85 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain.
“They are very talented kids,” Cospolich said. “Lasse had Breck Epic, and after taking a week off, he was nowhere near his normal energy levels. But, with that said, we’re pretty happy with his performance. … Nico did super well, which was not surprising. He’s got a lot of horsepower for a small frame, and he knows how to handle a bike.”
Though the Tigers have a home-course advantage with the peninsula being their practice venue, Cospolich said the weekend’s riding conditions were tricky. Though there was rain earlier this summer, the coach said riders on Sunday rode “kitty-litter conditions” that challenged the Tigers.
Nico Konecny, who won a national championship earlier this summer in Winter Park, said he rides with the Tigers because of the fun-yet-serious atmosphere Cospolich and other Tigers coaches bring to the season.
Cospolich said Sunday’s race showcased the team’s young talent, including the likes of junior Kai Oppito (16th, 1:02:10.62) in the 102-rider JV boys race, Lili Zygulski (seventh place, 1:20.25.71) in the 22-rider sophomore girls race, and Stanley Buzek (eighth, 1:02:21.5) and Luke Brewer (ninth, 1:02:27.76) in the 75-rider sophomore boys race. And in the 26-rider freshman girls race, two Tigers rode to top-six times: Merrick Neerhof (fourth, 1:14:08.94) and Aila Harmala (sixth, 1:17:18.08).
Nico Konecny said he was impressed with the times of Brewer and fellow sophomore Mateo Bonta (39th, 1:15:06.91), close friends who rode great in maiden efforts at cross-country races of this caliber.
Summit’s top rider in the varsity girls race was team captain Samantha Hessell, who finished in 16th place with a time of 1:10:44.05. In the junior varsity girls race, Abby Anderson led Summit with a 13th-place time of 1:14:45.03.
Cospolich also highlighted the contributions on and off the trail by Hessel and fellow team leaders in senior Marin Ward and junior David Reid. Though Ward did not race Sunday due to injury, she was in attendance supporting teammates alongside the hardworking and outgoing Reid, who raced to 36th in the JV boys race (1:06:33.22).
“He is lighthearted, fun and dressed up with pair of funky overalls — a self-made Tiger outfit for the races,” Cospolich said.
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