ST. GEORGE — The Utah High School Cycling League’s annual state high school mountain bike championships attracted more 1,700 athletes representing 68 teams from around the state.
The state races were staged Oct. 23-24 at the new Desert Canyons Course, located near the St. George Regional Airport.
“The venue was great. We’re looking forward to more races there,” said Snow Canyon head coach Nate Hansen, whose Warriors ended up placing fourth among 29 teams in Division 2, after taking first in state in each of the past two years.
This year, only six points separated the top three teams in the highly competitive Division 2, as Timpview took first with 2,200 points, Lehi finished second with 2,196 and Desert Hills was third with 2,194. Fourth-place Snow Canyon wasn’t far behind with 2,173.
The length of the races ranged anywhere from two laps to 3 1/2 laps on the 7.28-mile course, depending on the riders’ age and skill level.
The lone Southern Utah rider to place first in a race was Gwendolyn Sepp, a senior at Dixie High School, who won the Division 2 varsity girls race in a time of 1:26:45, nearly three minutes ahead of runner-up Aunika Kemp, a senior at Mountain Ridge, who finished in 1:29:34. Some 70 athletes competed in that race.
Sepp, a former soccer player, first took up the sport of mountain biking two years ago, Dixie head coach Sam Stoddard told St. George News.
“She had ridden with her family but had never really raced, and so to see her come out so strong in the last two years has been great,” Stoddard said, noting that Sepp also runs for Dixie’s cross country team and recently took fourth place individually in the 4A state championship meet.
Sepp learned the sport of mountain biking very quickly, Stoddard said, calling her “an incredible rider.”
“She was in good physical shape but hadn’t done enough bike riding to have good bike handling skills, but she just picked it up immediately and has been running with it ever since.”
Also placing highly from Southern Utah was Desert Hills sophomore Hadden Beykirch, who placed second in the JV A Boys race in Division 2, with sophomore Chase Cloward of Snow Canyon taking fourth in the same event. Also from Snow Canyon, Austin Crosby placed third in the Division 2 freshman boys race.
Dixie ended up in eighth place overall among Division 2 teams, while Crimson Cliffs was ninth. Hurricane High also competed in that division.
Meanwhile, in Division 3, which comprised 22 smaller teams, Cedar High placed 11th, Pine View was 12th and the Iron County Composite team took 17th.
This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams were limited in the number of athletes they could bring to state, with the various sub-varsity races being being limited to the top 25 riders in each region. Additionally, any 12th graders were allowed to compete, since it marked their final year.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.