HUNTSVILLE, Utah - With the mountain biking world focused on Utah's Red Bull Rampage a few hours south, more than 400 high school student-athletes put on a show at Snowbasin Resort on Saturday for Round 3 of the Utah High School Cycling League season.
The top finishers were familiar faces in the 2013 series, with Olympus High's Justin Griffin winning the varsity boys race for the second event in a row and Park City's freshman phenom Haley Batten keeping her season sweep intact with a dominant performance at the 2002 Olympic site.
The varsity girls kicked off Round 3 and Batten quickly pulled out a lead on the challenging course that climbed nearly 700 feet per lap as it wove through stands of golden aspen. The 15-year-old freshman rider dominated for the third straight race, coming across the line more than a minute ahead of her teammate Brenna Egan.
"I've been having pretty good starts so I tried to use that to my advantage and get out quick in the first lap," Batten said after maintaining a perfect record for her brief high school cycling career. "It's so cool to see all the girls out here racing and the big crowds cheering for us, I love it."
In the afternoon's varsity boys' race, the trio of Griffin, Weber's Anders Johnson and South Davis Composite's Zach Peterson were the class of the field, breaking away early and setting a crushing pace on the 4.7-mile route.
"I love this course, it's more technical than the other races and more of a true mountain bike course even though the beginning climb is brutal," Griffin said. "I was definitely suffering to try to build a gap, but on the fourth lap on the twisty singletrack I could see Zach and Anders behind me on the switchbacks and it kept me motivated."
The morning's girls' races were characterized by close racing in damp but quick conditions as the course thawed in morning sun and the JV, sophomore and freshman fields completed two laps of the Snowbasin course. Sienna Leger Redel of Park City won the JV event, Corner Canyon's Sierra Pogue took the top spot in sophomore racing and Lia Westermann of Salt Lake City Composite won the freshman division.
The lunch hour sent off the day's biggest fields as the freshman and sophomore boys of both division one and two hit the course. In total, the wave featured more than 200 riders strung out across Snowbasin. Racing through the heavy traffic, Corner Canyon's Seth Coccimiglio took the sophomore division one win followed by Makay Smith and Anthony Buoscio. In division two, Travis Gillian of Riverton finished on top, followed by Ashton Glines and Riley Horrocks. In freshman racing, Park City's Matthew Behrens won division one followed by Conner Patten and Dallin Willimas while Lex Avina of Desert Hills High won division two, with Bjorn Nicolaisen and Ben Warnick taking second and third.
"We couldn't have asked for a nicer day or better conditions for racing," said Utah High School Cycling League director Lori Harward. "The racing has been incredible this year, but beyond that we just keep hearing amazing stories of good sportsmanship from out on course ranging from kids from different schools stopping to help someone with a mechanical issue to varsity riders cheering on lower division athletes even when they're locked in a full-out race of their own."
The league's season continues on Oct. 26, when racing returns to the site of last year's state championship at Soldier Hollow in Midway. The season concludes with a state championship race in the mountain bike mecca of Moab on Nov. 9.
For more information about the league, please visit www.utahmtb.org.