PCHS cyclists claim top spots at championships
November 8, 2016
Over the weekend, the Utah High School Cycling League, the largest league in the National
Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), broke another record by having 1,146 registered high school riders compete in St. George for the state championships.
Out of all of them, the Park City High School team found success among its top riders.
In the boys' varsity race, Division 1 points leaders Connor Patten and Matt Behrens claimed the top two spots, while Sienne Leger Redel, the Division 1 points leader on the girls side, finished in first in the girls' varsity race.
As a team, the Miners finished fourth overall behind Corner Canyon, Skyline and Lone Peak, in that order.
"It was good," Head Coach Laura Patten said. "It would've been nice to podium, but it is what it is. We were still focused on the individuals and if the team [success] happens, it happens. Some kids were hoping for a little bit better, but I think they were pleasantly surprised because of the combining of the North and South."
This was the first year the Utah league put together a true state championship, in which its two regions — North and South — would come together for one race. While many of the season-long division titles were decided before the weekend, this standalone race was one more way of determining the best of the best when it comes to cycling among Utah high schools.
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Being seniors, Connor Patten and Behrens wanted to finish off their prep careers in style. With eyes from all over the state on this event, it was clear the two were aiming for the one, two finish.
This much was evident when Connor Patten blazed through the first lap in 16:02, with Behrens coming through as the next-fastest on that lap 20 seconds later. Connor Patten continued to maintain the lead, though his pace dropped slightly, as he was the only rider throughout the day that didn't have a single lap eclipse the 18-minute mark. He would win the varsity race by two and a half minutes.
Meanwhile, Behrens was entrenched in a battle for the No. 2 spot with three other riders, two of them being from Bountiful. Luckily for him, he left a little bit in the reserve tank for the final lap to pull away from the group, securing the top two positions for Park City.
While the two were teammates and happy for one another, Behrens was gunning for Connor Patten throughout the race.
"Connor was pretty motivated," Laura Patten said. "It always feels good to win. That was pretty exciting for Matt. He was pretty bummed because it was his senior year and he hasn't taken a state championship. I think he was happy too."
Redel, like Connor Patten, used a fast first lap (19:28) in order to build an early lead in the girls' varsity race, as she was the only female rider to break the 20-minute barrier on any lap. She slowed down in the remaining two laps (the girls' race is three laps, while the boys' race is four) but still maintained the gap she created early on. Her time of 1:01:47.17 was almost two minutes ahead of the next-best finisher, and had she had another lap to race like her male counterparts, it could have been even more.
"Sienna had a great race," Laura Patten said. "She pulled together and rode strong."
Saturday's races mark the end of the season for the Utah High School Cycling League, thus, the end of Park City's season. The club will lose a number of its top competitors to graduation this year, but it wasn't long ago when they were sitting in the same shoes the current freshmen and sophomores find themselves in.
"Because it was the last race, some of them were reminiscing with other kids," Laura Patten said. "It's really eye-opening to the freshmen. … They are motivated for next year. Half the sophomore field will go up to varsity next year, the rest will become JV. All in all, they are excited and motivated. They enjoy it."