Young riders lead Summit Tigers mountain bike team to 4th place finish in Leadville
The Summit Tigers mountain bike team is full of young, talented riders and at the Colorado Cycling League’s second race of the season in Leadville on Sunday, Sept. 11, the youth of the Summit team was on full display.
At Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville campus the Tigers found rutted-out trails and dusty conditions due in large part to the recent dry conditions. Despite the less-than-ideal trail conditions, Summit performed extremely well in the Yampa region race of the Cloud City Challenge.
“The course overall seems to favor an all-arounder so not like a climber specialist or someone who is only good going down or the flats, ” head coach Jeff Cospolich said. “The course favors someone with a diverse skillset and I think our guys and girls showed that quite a bit.”
In the three-lap, 18.6-mile varsity boys race, the Tigers had two athletes finish within the top 20. Leading the way was standout junior Nico Konecny who pushed his way to a third-place finish, crossing the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes and 25.05 seconds.
Konecny had fairly even splits throughout the course recording a lap time of 25:17 on the first lap, 26:02 on the second and 26:05 on the final lap. Konecny was beat out by junior Aidan Haack of Steamboat and senior Landon Stovall of Eagle Valley.
Junior Stanley Buzek followed Konecny in 18th place with a time of 1:31:14.01. With their top-20 finishes, Konecny and Buzek combined for 1,011 points.
The Tigers had no girls in the varsity race, but Aila Harmala made up for the lack of team points in the sophomore girls race. Harmala got off to a great start on the first lap of the two-lap, 12.4-mile course.
Harmala recorded a first lap split of 35:35 — close to a minute in front of her competitors — and then continued to power her way through the course on the second lap. Haramla finished lap two in a time of 37:26 to finish with a total time of 1:13:01.23.
“She had a really strong start,” Cospolich said of Harmala. “She had two laps that were pretty consistent and went out hard from the beginning.”
Harmala beat Ella Easton of Boulder by 1:57 in order to take her first-ever first-place finish and score 500 points for Summit.
“I was really happy and excited,” Harmala said. “It is the first high school race that I have won and it was really exciting.”
Summit dominated the sophomore boys race putting six athletes into the top 20. Mason Wescott was the runner-up of the race finishing with a time of 1:00:54.01 behind Tyler Goodson of Boulder who finished in 58:58.51.
“He went off pretty strong and had two laps that were within two minutes of one another,” Cospolich said. “We had a couple of kids that had a bit of a cold, but Mason was in great shape.”
Following the high finish of Wescott, a quartet of Tigers finished one after another. Eli Love placed eighth, Reid Litwiller placed ninth, Isaac York finished 10th and Nicolas Bonta placed 11th.
Clayton Amsbaugh rounded out the performances for the Tigers in the sophomore boys race placing 14th overall with a time of 1:08:43.30.
The Tigers continued to have strong performances in the freshman races. Fiona Florio notched a second-place finish in the freshman girls race, finishing the race with a time of 1:08:58.8.
Will Young placed fifth overall in the freshman boys race and was quickly followed by Carter Niemkiewicz in sixth place. Young recorded a time of 1:01:57.7, while Niemkiewicz crossed the finish line with a time of 1:02:34.5. Landon Laverdiere placed 10th, Finn Brown finished in 12th and Parker Osborn placed 14th.
“The team has a lot of really good, young freshmen who are really fast,” Harmala said of her teammates. “Everyone is so supportive of each other and during the races everyone is so happy. It really improves the vibe of the whole race.”
Cospolich has worked hard with the rest of the coaching staff in order to create the young, determined culture the team is putting on display this season.
“It’s always a work in progress but we have seemed to establish existing pipelines that we, as a coaching group, will look to nurture to bring in more and more of these athletes,” Cospolich said. “A lot of these kids that are Nordic athletes have big engines but just need to ride their bikes more.”
The Tigers placed fourth overall in Division 2 of the Yampa region races. The team recorded 4,728 points with Konecny and Harmala recording the most points for the team with their finishes. Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy took second with 4,990 points and Steamboat won the race with 5,000 points.
The Summit Tigers mountain bike team will compete again on Saturday, Sept. 24, in Steamboat Springs. Races are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.
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