High school mountain biking: local teams gearing up for 2nd half of season

Riders compete at Region 5 high school mountain bike race at Snowbasin Resort, Huntsville, Utah, Sept. 3, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Parker Grimes, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — The Utah High School Cycling League’s mountain bike season is now halfway through its regular-season schedule, with two races completed and two more to go. 

Riders compete at Region 5 high school mountain bike race at Manti, Utah, Aug. 20, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Parker Grimes, St. George News / Cedar City News

Multiply those four races staged every other Saturday between late August and early October by the six regions around the state, and that amounts to an unprecedented 24 races on this fall’s calendar, not counting the season-ending state championships in St. George.

The league has expanded to six regions this year in order to better accommodate the growing number of teams and participants in the increasingly popular sport, which attracts male and female riders in grades 7-12 with a wide range of skill levels and experience.

Although mountain biking is not an officially sanctioned high school sport, Utah’s mountain biking league, first established in 2011, is now the largest in the country. It boasts nearly 100 teams across the state, ranging in size from a handful of student-athletes to more than 200. 

“There’s now more than 7,000 riders in the state of Utah,” said Snow Canyon head coach Nate Hansen, who added that his team has a record 104 members this year, counting those in the seventh and eighth grade junior development category.

Other Southern Utah high schools with sizable mountain bike teams include Desert Hills, Dixie, Pine View, Hurricane and Crimson Cliffs, all of which are part of the new Region 6.

Region 6’s season-opening race at the Three Peaks course north of Cedar City on Aug. 20 was unable to be completed due to weather, so no team scores were posted, just individual results.

In Region 6’s second race, held at Richfield on Sept. 3, Snow Canyon placed first in Division 2 with 2,273 total team points, while runner-up Dixie had 2,257. Hurricane placed third in D2 while Pine View placed fourth.

Leading the way for Snow Canyon were Chase Cloward, who placed fifth among varsity boys with a four-lap time of 1:19.03, and Heidi Parr, who placed 13th among varsity girls with a three-lap time of 1:15.21.

Meanwhile, in the Division 1 category, Desert Hills placed third and Crimson Cliffs placed fifth.

Snow Canyon Mountain Bike team members placed first in Division 2 in Region 6 race at Richfield, Utah, Sept. 3, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Snow Canyon Mountain Bike Team, St. George News

At Region 5’s opening race in Manti on Aug. 20, Cedar High School (which trains as part of a larger group known as the Iron Giants) placed second out of six schools in Division 2, finishing behind only host team Manti.

Meanwhile, in Division 3, the Iron County Composite team (the rest of the Iron Giants) finished in third, while Panguitch placed fifth and Enterprise sixth.

In Region 5’s second race, staged at Snowbasin Resort in Huntsville on Sept. 3, Cedar High placed fourth in D2, while Iron County Composite placed third in D3, with Panguitch and Enterprise taking fifth and sixth again, respectively.

For complete race schedules and links to results for all regions, visit the results page at utahmtb.org.

Region 5’s next scheduled race is on Sept. 17 in Price. Their fourth race, for high schoolers only, will be Oct. 1 at Richfield. Meanwhile, Region 6’s next two races are scheduled for those same dates, with the Sept. 17 event scheduled for Soldier Hollow, followed by the Oct. 1 high school race at Eagle Mountain.

The state championships, which will feature the top qualifiers from all six regions throughout the state will be Oct. 21-22 at the Desert Canyons Course near the St. George Regional Airport. For more information about the state races, click here.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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