PCHS mountain bikers claim third title
Since the Utah High School Cycling League came into existence three years ago, one team has dominated every race and every season the Park City Miners. In 17 total races over the course of three years, Park City is 17-0.
Last Saturday, in St. George, the Miners kept their dominance going, winning their third-straight state title.
The Park City girls got the day off to a roaring start, with varsity riders Sienna Leger Redel, Brenna Egan and Quinn Graves sweeping the top-three spots.
Park City coach Pete Stoughton said the outcome was pretty clear from the outset of the race.
"Right from the start, Brenna and Sienna were just right together," he said. "Sienna pulled away a little bit on the technical climbs, but Brenna stayed within 30 seconds of her the whole race. That was Brenna’s senior race, so she had been training really hard to peak at that race, and Quinn [another senior] was right after Brenna the whole time."
Though Rachel Anders, one of Leger Redel’s biggest challengers this season, was in Hawaii for the Xterra World Championships and missed the race, Stoughton said Park City still would have been tough to beat.
"If you have three strong girl riders, that’s so many points that it’s hard to beat," he said. "So it was close, but thankfully not close enough."
Stoughton said the girls’ team would face a tough task in 2015, when it will need to find replacements for Egan and Graves. Leger Redel, only a sophomore this year, will be back, but riders behind her will need to step up.
"Brenna and Quinn you can’t really separate them we’re going to lose two girls who raced all three years on varsity," he said. "Brenna won the state championship her first year then finished second to Haley [Batten in 2013] and Sienna [this year]. The leadership of both those girls will be missed. Being at every ride, showing what good training looks like by really pushing their limits and really caring for the other kids on the team those are things that are intangibles that are hard to bring to a team."
In the boys’ race, Connor Patten, a sophomore, was fully recovered from a concussion suffered in practice before the third race of the season at Round Valley. Patten missed Park City’s home race at Round Valley then raced conservatively at Snowbasin, finishing fifth overall.
"This race, Connor was ready to go and give it his all," Stoughton said. "He needed to place first and then have the other two top riders [Jacob Mathewson and Anders Johnson] not do as well."
That’s because riders get a bonus for participating in every race. Since Patten missed the Round Valley race, he didn’t receive the 25 bonus points. After Patten rode to a second-place finish despite derailer problems early in the race, he came up just short of the individual title, finishing third overall to Mathewson, the champion, and runner-up Johnson.
"He ended up losing the state championship by 24 points," Stoughton said. "Had he done all five races, he would have won, but he wasn’t medically cleared for it. We’re still happy with his progress this season."
The Miners also got strong season-long performances from sophomore Matthew Behrens and junior Danny Fendler. Patten finished third in the overall season standings, followed by Behrens in fifth and Fendler in seventh.
Following another great season, Stoughton anticipates that Park City’s dominance won’t be as extreme in the coming years, but he thinks the Miners can stay ahead of the pack for another year, at least.
"It’s just a matter of time before Corner Canyon, Weber, Ogden and some of these other schools are going to start catching us slowly," he said. "But we have great feeder programs we won the freshmen boys’ title, the sophomore boys’ title and we got second place in JV boys. We’re also really thankful for the junior team of seventh and eighth grade riders."
He added that he doesn’t expect Park City to ever run out of top-level riders, thanks to all the options for cyclists the community provides.
"Between the junior team we’ve developed, the Summit Bike Club, Tom Noaker and the private coaches, Young Riders, the Mid-Week Mountain Bike Series, Tour des Suds and 400 miles of world-class trails maintained by Mountain Trails, it’s hard not to have world-class riders getting developed here," he said. "We have an assembly line of awesome athletes here in Park City. That creates a culture of kids who want to do well excellence breeds more excellence."
Stoughton also acknowledged the enthusiasm the parents and fans show toward the riders and the program itself.
"The races and our team really depend on volunteers," he said. "During the races, any time I was walking around going from one spot to another for coaching, I could see Park City parents at every junction whether it was as course marshals, sweeps (people who follow the riders and make sure everyone is OK), registration, traffic control, whatever, these parents were amazing. I just love the team community that’s developed."
Finally, he noted, the most important aspect of being a student-athlete is the "student" part, and Park City excelled in that regard, too.
"I wouldn’t let anybody ride who had below a 3.00 GPA," he said. "Our GPA is kicking butt. It’s pretty awesome that they’re racing at elite levels and still kicking butt in the classroom."
Utah High School Cycling League Season Results
Park City 22,701 points
Corner Canyon 21,041 points
Alta 19,545 points
Morgan 19,516 points
Skyline 19,096 points
Girls’ Varsity Season Results
Sienna Leger Redel (Park City) 2,475 points
Brenna Egan (Park City) 2,425 points
Quinn Graves (Park City) 2,379 points
Amber Harvey (Morgan) 2,301 points
Sierra Pogue (Corner Canyon) 2,275 points
Boys’ Varsity Season Results
Jacob Mathewson (Ogden) 2,427 points
Anders Johnson (Weber) 2,426 points
Connor Patten (Park City) 2,403 points
Adam Brown (Timpanogos) 2,387 points
Matthew Behrens (Park City) 2,362 points
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