Park City High mountain bikers excel at nationals
The Accel Cycling team, which included several Park City riders, took home the inaugural high school team national championship in the large team division
Six Park City High mountain bikers helped the St. George-based Accel Cycling team claim the team national championship in the large team division at the inaugural USA Cycling High School Mountain Bike National Championships.
Abigail Pruyn, racing in the freshman girls division, led the way with a second-place finish and a time of 46:19, three minutes behind the leader. Pruyn spent the past year racing varsity despite only being a freshman. She also finished fourth in the nationals race for 15- and 16-year-old girls earlier in the week.
“I went into (the high school race) feeling a little scared, but we had a qualifying race… so I felt pretty good after qualifying because then I got second in qualifying also,” Pruyn said. “So I felt pretty confident, and I was happy I finished second. I wasn’t expecting to really get even top four, so I’m happy with my placement.”
Park City High coach Chris Best said that Pruyn, who has only raced for one year, “came out of nowhere” as a freshman. She entered a summer race series as a varsity racer and excelled. The rest is history.
“When high school season started, we petitioned to have her race in varsity as opposed to freshman or junior varsity, and she was pretty much winning races from day one,” Best said. “It’s unusual for riders to go straight to varsity, but she did.”
The only other girl from Park City to attend nationals was Best’s daughter, Catherine, who finished 11th in the senior girls race and 39th in the 16/17 division out of 58 racers.
“It was my first time doing that many races in about a week, but also you have some of the best people in the country racing at those races, and it’s really cool to be racing against people from all over the country, not just Utah,” Catherine said. “It really puts into perspective how good you can be at mountain biking.”
On the boys side, Charlie Maulding and Trace Wallin finished 14th and 23rd in the junior event, respectively, while Derek Santoro and Hale Nickell ended up in 10th and 14th in the freshman race. Santoro had a 46th-place finish in the 15/16 boys race, while Nickell ended the race in 77th out of 130 racers.
With their combined efforts, the Park City riders helped Accel Cycling score enough points to take home the championship.
“It was super special to me because it was our first year as Accel… and to win a team national championship and get the stars-and-stripes jersey I think was super special to everyone,” Pruyn said.
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