Race #1 | North Tahoe Challenge
North Tahoe High School
August 27th, 2017
Never shoot for perfection – you’ll just be disappointed. Perfection is reserved for the imagination, for unreasonably positive people, for dreamers. So what can we call this weekend’s Tahoe Challenge MTB race? Ah, let’s just say it – it was perfect! No injuries, no tears, no yellow jackets! Just a few lazy clouds hovering in a blue Tahoe sky, a wisp of a breeze, and hundreds of excited riders, coaches, and parents having the time of their lives. The races went off like clockwork; the riders supported one another – teammates and competitors alike. Parents beamed with pride, coaches exhorted their athletes on. Sometimes sport is exactly what it should be, what we all hope it will be, and in this case, it was. Perfect.
It was perfect even before the racing began! How else can you describe 80 (yes 80!) girls, coaches, and moms riding through the Tahoe forest led by racing legends Katarina Nash and Julie Young?
It was perfect even before the racing began! How else can you describe 80 (yes 80!) girls, coaches, and moms riding through the Tahoe forest led by racing legends Katarina Nash and Julie Young? The success of the new NICA GRiT (Girls Riding Together) program bodes well for the future of girls racing in the Nevada League. Girl power was also evident in one of the biggest surprises of the year – the explosion of growth in the middle school girls’ division. It seems we are raising a bunch of tough, strong, independent young women around here. Heck yeah!
Of course, perfection is great, but there were still races to be raced! The first riders out of the gate were the JV and varsity girls. Race organizer Kevin Joelle lined them up for an on time start (perfect, remember), and the race was on! Galena High School showed up ready to rock and roll, taking the top 3 spots in the girls’ JV race. Kate Indart led from start to finish, with teammates Emma Herschbach and Veronica Gardella taking second and third. The varsity race was also a Galena affair, with Mya Dixon racking up yet another victory, and her Galena teammate Mikaela Echo taking second. North Tahoe’s Lily Bradley broke the Galena stranglehold with a third place finish in the girls’ varsity.
Next up were the freshman and sophomore girls. Sasha Mueller of Mammoth raced hard and finished as the only sophomore girl racer of the day. The freshman girls division was won by Wooster’s Abby Swall, followed by Ciara Wing and Emmy Purdy, both of Truckee High. Wooster coach Lane Swall celebrated two victories in the freshman girls’ division: his daughter’s first place finish and his rider Gaby Ramierez’ 9th place. According to coach Swall, Gaby’s finish may have been the biggest victory of the day. It was only a couple of months ago that Gaby showed up for her first Wooster practice on flat pedals with almost no riding experience. Now she’s racing, and finishing, with the best of them. If NICA and the Nevada League have a purpose, this is it – to get young men and women on bikes. Congrats Gaby!
There were middle-schoolers everywhere! The middle school boys’ division alone had 29 riders, and at the last minute, popular demand forced race organizers to add a new middle school division – girls’ advanced. No doubt, with all of these middle-schoolers racing, competition was fierce. Sawyer Villanueva of Alta Alpina Composite took the victory for the middle school girls, followed by Truckee’s Hayden McJunkin and Incline’s Lainey Lowden. For the advanced middle school girls, Hope Crockell of Placer Foothills Composite took the win, with Astrid Crow of Wooster in second and Elsa Harrison of Carson High in third. On the boys’ side, middle-school racer Aidan Gustafsson of Truckee edged out teammate Reed Loper by just two seconds, with independent rider Peyton Bishop capturing third. Truckee’s Matt Seline claimed victory for the advanced middle school boys, with Placer Foothills Composite riders Khy Kinsey and Travis Boucher taking second and third.
Galena got back to their winning ways in the freshman boys’ division. Lucas Miers made sure the Nevada League got use out of its new chip timing and video system by squeaking by his teammate Sam Evans at the finish. The race was so close that both riders received the same time. Lucky for Lucas, the Nevada League made the investment in this high tech equipment! Luca Robillard of Truckee took the third spot. Truckee High School was able to get the win in the Sophomore Boys’ division on the strong riding of rider Kol Hanson. Axton Albrecht of Mammoth was second, and Zane Frey of Damonte Ranch High School was third. The varsity boys’ race was another Galena affair. Galena riders Jackson Miers and Matthew Nugent rode together for most of the race, staying out front of the rest of their competitors. It wasn’t until the last lap that Jackson was able to surge and put some space between himself and his friend and rival, Matt. With a handful of seconds in his pocket, Jackson took the victory. Drew Swall of Wooster finished in third.
It’s no surprise that Galena took the top spot in the team competition, with North Tahoe second and Wooster third. It’s also no surprise that the Nevada League has seen massive growth since last year. Word is getting out that positive, exciting, and life-changing experiences can be found on the trails of eastern California and western Nevada. Last year’s inaugural event had 123 riders. This year we had 166. The number of girl riders alone increased by 18, from 31 to 49 riders. With the addition of Wooster High School, Bishop Manogue High, and Damonte High, and with South Lake Tahoe joining Alta Alpina Composite, we had 3 and ½ more teams! In the words of Nevada League founder and director Doug Bedient, “Dude!” I couldn’t agree more. So all of us together –“Dude!”
Until next time, your race reporter in chief, signing off.
Complete event results of all the amazing athletes who conquered the “Challenge” can be found at http://my2.raceresult.com/81017/results?lang=en
Photos galore by student League photographer Owen Swall can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/146749774@N04/
On Saturday, September 17th , we’ll all meet up again at Hidden Valley for the Rattlesnake Roundup – renamed last year from Wildhorse after a surprise visit from several of our reptilian friends. Moving from the granite dust, tall trees, and mountain air of Tahoe, riders will tackle the terrain of the high desert – bring shade, sunscreen and plenty of water. Who will be victorious is not yet decided, but what is certain is that the good vibrations of the event, the amazingly supportive parents and coaches, and the sportsmanship and good will of the competitors will be on display. Until the, ride on!