Summit Tigers senior girls mountain bikers bounce back at Haymaker Classic |

Summit Tigers senior girls mountain bikers bounce back at Haymaker Classic

Tigers sophomore Nico Konecny wins JV boys race

Summit Tigers seniors Samantha Hessel, left, and Marin Ward race at the Haymaker Classic in Eagle on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Linda Hessel/Courtesy photo

A strong redemption effort from three senior girls led the Summit Tigers high school mountain bike team to a third-place finish at Saturday’s Colorado High School Cycling League Haymaker Classic in Eagle.

Tigers varsity cyclists Victoria Uglyar, Marin Ward and Samantha Hessel raced to sixth, eighth and 10th places, respectively. The trio raced to the strong finishes despite starting toward the back of the pack on a hot three laps on the 6-mile, 600-foot elevation gain course. Uglyar crossed the finish line with a total time of 1 hour, 32 minutes and 2.6 seconds, followed by Ward’s time of 1:33:45.39 and Hessel clocking in at 1:36:09.5.

“I think we all three had a really awesome solid race, and it was a lot of fun,” Hessel said. “I think the time-trial format (at the previous race in Frisco) might have thrown a couple of people off, so it was nice to have a mass start. We’ve been missing that for a while. It’s the first mass start in the league in almost two years, and it was great to have that environment back.”

It was Ward’s first race of the season after a glute injury a month ago.

“It’s mostly healed, but I’m not in top form,” Ward said. “But I felt that my race went really well. I really could not have asked for anything to go better or have a better result after starting dead last.”

Tigers head coach Jeff Cospolich said he was happy to see all three varsity girls riders focus on the task at hand. Uglyar’s showing was especially impressive after a crash in Frisco forced her to start toward the back of the pack Saturday. Despite the pole position, she took her chances when they presented themselves.

“If you don’t catch that train when it leaves the station, you’re going to be working your way up,” Cospolich said. “Victoria has that mentality where she doesn’t have to suck wheels and have that carrot in front of her. She’s strong enough to power through and hunt down people.”

Summit Tigers sophomore Nico Konecny rides at the Haymaker Classic in Eagle on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Paul Koslovsky/Courtesy photo

The three seniors were just a few of the Tigers riders who raced well before driving up and over Vail Pass to attend Summit High School’s homecoming dance Saturday night. One of those riders was sophomore Nico Konecny, whose winning time of 47:47.88 in the two-lap, 102-rider junior varsity boys race was more than 90 seconds faster than his nearest competitor. Konecny raced out to the lead early and never looked back, earning the Tigers the most team points of any singular Tigers cyclist in the process. In the Colorado High School Cycling League, varsity finishes are weighted with more points than junior varsity, sophomore or freshman races, though higher finishes in lower races can count for more points than lower finishes in higher races.

“Being solo in any race, not just this race, I always think about managing my efforts and not focusing on other people,” Konecny said. “It’s mainly just focusing on how I feel.”

Cospolich said Mason Wescott’s seventh-place finish in the 65-rider freshman boys field was a great maiden showing from the back row. The coach said because Wescott didn’t race in Frisco, he had to pass more than 55 riders for the top-10 placement, a testament to Wescott’s patience and horsepower.

In the two-lap sophomore boy’s race, Summit’s Stanley Buzek earned a third-place out of 70 riders with a time of 54:04.74. Cospolich said the Boulder transfer has a great athletic pedigree as an Alpine ski racer.

“I expect pretty big things out of him moving forward,” the coach said.

And in the freshman girls race, the Summit duo of Aila Harmala and Merrick Neerhof raced to back-to-back ninth- and 10th-place finishes of 1:11:35.95 and 1:11:47.17, respectively, despite their distinct riding styles and different strengths.

“Merrick descends quicker, and Aila races uphill quicker, so to see them riding together on both laps of the race was inspiring,” Cospolich said. “We hope they push each other in practices and at the next few races, as well.”

The Tigers will next race Sunday, Oct. 10, at Granby Ranch.

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