Summit High freshman girls MTB trio parlays summer success into fruitful fall

From left, local Summit youth mountain bike riders Aisley Grohusky, Samantha Hessel and Victoria Uglyar pose for a photo on the end-of-season Summit Mountain Challenge Junior Mountain Bike League podium last month following the Peaks Trail Time Trial event.
Linda Hessel / Special to The Daily

Summit Junior Mountain Bike League

Girls 13-15 podium finishers

1. Samantha Hessel

Team Breckenridge/Summit Endurance Academy

2. Victoria Uglyar

Peak-A-Boo Toys

3. Aisley Grohusky

Summit Nordic Ski Club/SEA

For freshman members of the Summit Tigers high-school aged mountain bike team, summer success seamlessly transitioned into autumn achievement late last month.

Just three days separated the final event of the Summit Mountain Challenge’s Junior Mountain Bike League, the Peaks Trail Time Trial on Aug. 22, and the opening event of the Colorado High School Cycling League’s 2018 season. To boot, that season-opener served as the Summit Tigers’ home meet, the Frisco Bay Invitational at the town’s Peninsula Trail System.

At the Aug. 25 Frisco Bay Invite and at the subsequent Sept. 9 Showdown In the Boat in Steamboat Springs, a trio of freshman girl mountain bikers at Summit High played pivotal roles in earning the program points. Freshman riders Victoria Uglyar, Samantha Hessel and Marin Ward each finished in top-11 spots for the Tigers’ high school team at those two meets.

Between the three of them, the group has earned the Tigers a total of 2,755 points across the two meets. It equates to more than 20-percent of the team’s point total on the season from just three freshman riders.

“It’s a really tight-knit community,” Ward said of the county’s junior mountain bike scene. “Everyone is very supportive, which is really cool.”

Along with their strong varsity girls riders such as sisters Tai-Lee and Jazlyn Smth and Opal Koning, the Tigers mountain bike team will bank on this trio of freshman riders to produce points at Sunday’s third event of the Colorado High School Cycling season, the Granby Ranch Roundup.

Uglyar finished in first place for freshman girls at the Frisco Bay Invite’s North Division 1 race on Aug. 25 and in second place at the Showdown in the Boat on Sept. 9. Hessel finished in 11th place at the Frisco Bay Invite and in sixth place in Steamboat. And Ward raced to eighth place in Frisco and seventh place at Steamboat.

The success this fall for the freshman trio comes after that summer-long Junior Mountain Bike League series during which Hessel repeated as champion of the girls 13-15 age-group division. She did so with one final flourish at the Aug. 22 Peaks Trail Time Trial. Hessel entered the day in third place, trailing Uglyar and fellow local Summit County eighth-grade student Aisley Grohusky by just 10 points. Hessel then finished in first place on the very technical course with a time of 41 minutes and 27.3 seconds. It was a time exactly five seconds faster than Uglyar.

As a result, the freshman duo tied with 420 total points for the summer’s junior mountain bike league. But because she won the final Peaks Time Trial race, per Maverick Sports rules, Hessel was awarded the league championship, her second consecutive after also winning in 2017. Hessel attributed her win this time around to her improved and more-confident downhill riding.

To Hessel, the fact that she won the league title again meant as much as being able to do so riding alongside familiar faces, which wasn’t the case last year.

“I respect them a lot and they are really good friends, so that makes it a lot of fun,” Hessel said. “And as the season progresses, I kept getting better. I just wanted to make it fun, and that mindset really worked for me.

“Every year it gets more challenging,” Uglyar said of the Junior Mountain Bike League. “Everyone gets better and stronger, and everyone is friends. But once you’re on the course, it’s everyone for themselves and it’s really tough competition. But it’s super fun because they are people you love to hang out with and have grown up with.

As for next summer, the same cast of characters will return to compete against friends in the 13-15 girls division. Uglyar is also excited to see what level of riding they’re all at come June.

“I feel like everyone is going to come back even stronger,” she said. “We grow so much and learn so much, because a lot of us ski, and that keeps our legs strong.”

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