Haley Batten, Keegan Swenson, Katie Clouse capture titles
After winning the Cat 1 15-16 national title last year in Pennsylvania, Park City resident Haley Batten returned to Bear Creek on July 18 and successfully defended her championship in that age group.
Finishing the race in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 8 seconds, Batten bested second-place Kelsey Urban of Kentfield, California, by 1:03. Sienna Leger Redel, also of Park City, crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 1:16:42.
Batten said nerves weren’t an issue for her before the race – she just wanted to ride as well as she could and have fun doing it.
"For me, I stayed pretty calm before the race," she said. "On the line, I got pretty excited and a little stressed, too. But I just tried to have a good time on the course."
Batten and Leger Redel weren’t the only strong Park City finishers at the event. Keegan Swenson won the U23 men’s national title and Katie Clouse won the short-track women’s junior 9-16 title.
Clouse crossed the finish line in 13:35, 23 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Emma Drummond of Springdale, Arkansas.
Swenson took on a tough course in the U23 field, but managed to use his strengths to pull out a narrow, 16-second victory over Howard Grotts.
"I was just really excited to win," he said. "I’ve had some ups and downs the past year and a half. This was a race I wanted to win and I knew Howard would be tough to beat.
"It was a good course. The climbs were pretty fast and there was a fair amount of climbing for where it is. It definitely played to my strengths."
But it wasn’t just the climbing that helped Swenson to a victory.
"When it opened up, it was a little flatter and I could use my power more," he said. "Then the downhills were pretty technical and rocky. I’ve been racing a lot of that terrain in Europe."
Batten said seeing how well local riders were doing was a real tribute to the quality of riders in Park City.
"That’s really cool," she said. "Park City is a great place for up-and-coming riders. It’s exciting to watch athletes like Keegan who are so strong. To have them do well is really exciting."
Swenson said that the quality of riders is only going to improve in the near future.
"You have the Summit Bike Club and the Clouses out here doing well," he said. "It’s awesome – we’re definitely heading in the right direction [at the youth level], especially with the high school cycling league. All these riders have been traveling and racing and we’re going to have some good riders coming up in the future."
Batten has made a name for herself as one of the best riders in her age group across the United States. Two years ago, she captured a 13-14 age group title, added a 15-16 title last year and defended it successfully this year.
She said it hasn’t really sunk in that she’s a three-time national champion yet.
"I haven’t even really thought about that part yet," she said. "It’s really exciting, though. Going into 17-18 next year, it means a lot."
With World Cup races and other lofty goals on the horizon, Batten said her Nationals experiences will be invaluable.
For Swenson, who is already on the World Cup tour, a short break is in order before heading off to a couple more events in North America. He’ll be in Canada in a couple weeks, then New York for a World Cup race the following week. Then, it’s off to Europe, where he’ll compete in France at the World Cup finals and in Norway for the World Championships.
As of press time, Clouse had just captured another national championship in her longer race, the women’s junior 13-14 class, while Mila Leger Redel placed third. Twelve-year-old Sydney Palmer-Leger was waiting to begin her quest for a title.
The Park City High School girls golf team took second in the Class 4A state championship tournament on Thursday. It was the team’s fifth consecutive time as runner-up.