PCHS mountain biking teams pedal toward finals
November 4, 2016
While snow sports continue to reign king in Park City, mountain biking is one of the more popular activities during the warmer months of the year. This is evident by the huge club team that the Park City High School fields every year, with this season being no exception.
With a roster of 45 racers, Park City Mountain Biking Club Head Coach Laura Patten has her hands full each and every race. Being an activity of choice among the youth in the community, getting them ready for the Utah High School Mountain Bike Championships, which will boast over 80 teams and 1,000 riders, on Saturday isn't much of a tough task.
"We're feeling OK," Patten said. "Our Varsity boys are pretty motivated. Our sophomore boys are [also] really motivated."
Despite already finishing second to Skyline High School in Division 1 of the North region in the Utah High School Cycling League by just 50 points, the Miners have a good shot at still claiming the division's overall state title. Throughout the season, points and scores are recorded at each race, which led to the Eagles finishing in first by regular season's end.
But Saturday's races are standalone, which means anything that happened beforehand basically doesn't count. Though Park City will enter the weekend as the second-best team in Division 1, it hopes to leave St. George as the top overall squad.
That said, mountain biking, like track, is mostly a solo effort. In fact, Patten claims that while a team championship would be nice, she's focused more on how each rider does. After all, if everyone on the team does their part as individuals, the team success should follow.
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"We don't really focus on the team score overall, but I'm more looking at the individuals," Patten said. "The team aspect is there, but I really look at each individual and where they are and their individual goals."
In order to prepare for the atmosphere in St. George, the PCHS team has been training on trails with varying terrain and difficulty. The riders have been prepping for this final weekend all season long, so the level of fitness they are at is not a concern to Patten.
One thing that the team struggles to simulate in the cool air of Park City is the 70-plus degree forecast set to grace St. George on Saturday. No fear for the Miners, though, as Patten's son, Connor, who is the North region's individual points leader through the regular season in the boys' Varsity standings, has developed a method to prep for the sunny southern weather.
"One of the kids [Connor] wore a lot of clothes to simulate heat," Patten said. "I think it's a mental thing."
While most high school sports are separated by gender, both the girls' and boys' races will be counted towards the overall team score. Right behind Connor in the individual standings is Matthew Behrens, while the women's division is led by Sienna Leger Redel, who took home first place in the last regular-season girls' Varsity race at Eagle Mountain.
In terms of expectations for the trio of top-ranked riders, and the rest of the Miners, Patten has none. The head coach just wants each competitor on her team to do the best they can in the last race of the season, and accept whatever that might come with it. That may be a state championship or that may mean the Miners walking away empty handed, but one thing that is certain is that these riders are amped up for the final competition of the season.
"I think the kids are just stoked to get to the state championship," Patten said. "This is the first time they've done it where they combined two leagues and had a true state championship versus racing over five races."
The first race is scheduled to start from St. George at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday.
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