now two-for-two for Christina Mann (407, Yucaipa) in Sophomore Girls.
This course presented 400 feet of elevation gain per lap. --Photo Phil
Beckman, PB Creative
Scenery, Speed and Size Set Sycamore Canyon Apart
March 13, 2013
2013 SoCal High School Mountain Bike Racing Series ROUND TWO
Carving Canyons, Riverside, CA
By Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Contact: Matt Gunnell, firstname.lastname@example.org, (818) 415-1133, www.socaldirt.org
Photo gallery with captions
Riverside, Calif. — The second round of the 2013
SoCal High School Cycling League season saw more slicing and dicing than
Benihana’s on a Saturday night. “Carving Canyons” took place for the
first time at Sycamore Canyon Park, where the nature of the course and
perfect weather inspired some of the closest and fastest mountain bike
racing ever witnessed at this level. Lap times were quick and the depth
of the competition was unparalleled.
A new SoCal League rider attendance record was set for the second
event in a row. A total of 355 student-athletes representing 36 teams
took to the flowing, scenic trails at Sycamore, which were dust free and
tacky thanks to a rainstorm just days before. With snow on the nearby
mountaintops and springtime flowers blooming, the atmosphere was both
electrified and idyllic.
"Feedback on the venue has been very positive and with panoramic
views like that how could it not be,” stated Matt Gunnell, the Executive
Director of the SoCal League.
“The level and depth of competition up and down every field this year
is really incredible,” continued Gunnell. “There is no such thing as a
‘slow’ or ‘weak’ rider in the League. Regardless of where a rider
finishes in their field it's crystal clear that all teams have been
working hard and that dedication and great coaching is paying off. These
kids are all really strong!”
“One thing I've started hearing more frequently from parents is that
they have participated in other sports with their children and that high
school mountain biking is the best experience they've had. I can't say
that is a universal feeling but there is something about mountain biking
blended with the culture established many years ago in the NorCal
League (which our program is based on) that just works. Our aim is to
keep that culture alive and continue to build on it so that an ever
increasing number of future high schoolers and their families will be
able to tap into that magic," Gunnell concluded.
South Orange County Composite captured its first Division 2 team win. --Photo Phil Beckman, PB Creative
After going winless during the first four years of the SoCal League,
Yucaipa High School has now scored its second consecutive victory in the
passionate Division 1 team competition (for squads with 12 or more
riders). “We knew that the other teams were going to be gunning for us,
and they did,” said Head Coach Mike Bagg. “But what’s really
heartwarming is when the other coaches, who had seen our struggle during
the last couple of years, come up and tell us it couldn’t happen to a
better group. It’s just amazing. It shows how the D1 teams have such an
intense respect for each other. It’s a fond admiration but also fiercely
Woodcrest Christian and Murrieta Valley rounded out the top three in
D1. The results at Sycamore reflect the 2013 season standings after two
of five rounds, with Yucaipa leading Woodcrest and Murrieta Valley.
In Division 2, South Orange County Composite stepped up to claim its
first win in the SoCal League, followed by round one winner Crescenta
Valley and then Corona del Mar.
South OC Head Coach Brian Emter said, “Everybody is doing better and
better each race. The riders are doing well and as a team we’re having a
lot of fun.” Jamie Carrillo, the former Head Coach who is now assisting
the team, added, “Basically all of our racers did exactly what their
coaches asked, which was to do their best and have fun doing it. Winning
In the D2 standings, Crescenta Valley is currently in front of South OC and Corona del Mar.
Skelton (038, Independent) rockets out to the early Varsity Boys lead
ahead of Jarred Jordan (hidden, Murrieta), Sammy Bello (039,
Independent) and 20 others. --Photo Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Much of the four-lap Varsity Boys race was a nose-to-tail
free-for-all with up to a dozen riders in contention. Due to a bit of
wind and the depth of talent in this field, it proved to be a tactical
race. As eventual winner Shane Skelton (Independent) described it, “I
pushed it pretty hard at the start and looked back and we had a group of
nine or ten. Because of the wind it was really easy to catch a guy’s
wheel and hold onto it.”
Skelton spent most of the first lap in front, Sean Bird (St. Francis)
pulled much of the second, then Jarred Jordan (Murrieta) took over for
the third lap. About halfway around Skelton decided it was time to break
things up. An attack on a climb did just that. “On the last lap it was
just me, Jarred [Jordan] and Lucas [Rowton],” said Skelton. “I attacked
again on the last long climb and got a gap and held it steady. It was a
solid day.” His fourth lap was the fastest of the event, at 18:30.
As Jordan put it, “It was the same as the last race. I knew Shane was
going to put in a big effort, and he did. I was just trying to hold
Alex Bagg (Yucaipa) came from behind to record his best Varsity
finish yet in third place, followed by Wyatt Myers (Victor Valley) and
Sammy Bello (Independent).
In the points, Skelton leads Jordan, Bagg, Rowton and Bello.
Hannah Rae Finchamp (Maranatha), who had won at the prestigious
Escape from Alcatraz triathlon the weekend before, was again the top of
this class. “It was a great race on a really fun course,” the reigning
champion stated. “I felt good, got out fast and got a gap early. I just
kept praying that I’d stay upright and strong; I think God was
definitely with me today. I’m happy to be here. Each race I develop
better and better friendships with all these girls, which is really
Enjoying her best finish ever was Morgan Zurborg (Woodcrest), who put
in a strong last lap to come out on top of a race-long duel for second
place with Emma Klingaman (Hemet). “This is our home course so we get to
ride the trails here a lot,” said Zurborg. “My strategy for this race
was a little different, to try to conserve more during the first two
laps so I can really put it on for the third.”
Klingaman, who was fighting a cold, rounded out the top three, with
Dalma Felenyi (Rim of the World) and Camila Fernandez (Eastlake)
Finchamp leads the standings ahead of Klingaman and Zurborg.
Lansing (230, Woodcrest) and Imeh Nsek (221, Independent) were this
close for all three laps of JV D1 Boys. They now share the series lead
and will start in matching Leader Jerseys at race #3 --Photo Phil
Beckman, PB Creative
JV Boys Division 1
This was a nail-biter, with the top three duking it out all the way
to a sprint finish. Micheal Lansing (Woodcrest) was triumphant, just
ahead of first round winner Imeh Nsek (Independent) and Randy Graham
(Murrieta Valley). Reported Lansing: “We all took turns leading and it
was close at the finish. Imeh put up a great fight towards the end, but
he got caught in a little bit of lapped traffic going into the last
turn. The inside line opened up and I took it. I got lucky. We’ve been
training sprint finishes in practice but I’ve never put it into play in a
race. I’m very excited about my first JV win.”
Lansing and Nsek are now tied at the top of the points table, with
Brian Messner (Woodcrest), fourth today, rounding out the top three.
JV Boys Division 2
Did we mention there was close racing at Carving Canyons? This class
was also a race-long three-way battle that went right down to the line.
Sean Bell (El Toro) attacked on the last climb on the third and final
lap, forcing Daniel Johnson (South OC) and James Pflughaupt (Corona del
Mar) to chase. The capture was made within sight of the finish.
Pflughaupt prevailed over Johnson and Bell, then stated, “I’m actually a
sprinter in road cycling, so that’s my job; that’s where I excel. It
was the three of us on the last lap at the last race too, and it’ll
probably be this way the whole season.” This was the largest class of
the day, with 67 competitors.
Pflughaupt holds the Leader Jersey, with Bell and Johnson tied for second in points.
Ema Suarez (Independent) is now two-for-two in her short high school
mountain bike racing history, again winning JV Girls with a strong
showing. And again it was three Hemet High riders in her wake: Alexis
Marques, Hayleigh Kirkham and Arcelia Mercado finished 2-3-4.
“It was fun. I liked this course because it had more hills. It was
more technical, and that’s good for me. Thanks to everyone again for
making this happen,” said Suarez.
She remains on top of the points, while Kirkham and Marques share second place.
4.7-mile Carving Canyons course was a little more technical than most.
Caden Gruber (602, Corona del Mar) showed his skills on the way to the
Sophomore Boys D2 victory. --Photo Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Sophomore Boys Division 1
Three consistently rapid laps gave Hayden Ramsey (Yucaipa) his second
win of the year, but it wasn’t without some pressure. As he explained,
“On the second lap I wasn’t too confident. Some of the other riders were
looking strong and catching up, but I had the endurance and was able to
pull ahead again. My teammate Dillon [Gamache] had a fantastic race too
for second place. The whole team, we’re a family here. We all push each
other and the coaches are so supportive.”
Evan Christenson-Meyer (Independent) completed the top three. The
finishing order of this trio at Sycamore Canyon is their current order
in series points as well.
Sophomore Boys Division 2
Caden Gruber (Corona del Mar) was somewhat bewildered with his
performance at this event — even though he won for the first time in
SoCal League racing. “It was pretty surprising, actually,” he commented.
“I got fifth at the last race so I didn’t come into this one expecting
too much. But things worked out, I guess. I had a little heavier warmup
and got in with the front pack early, then eventually spaced myself out
from everyone else.”
Gruber won by almost a minute ahead of first-round victor Alexander DeRoche (Crescenta); Oliver Stubbs (South OC) was third.
DeRoche keeps the Leader Jersey on his shoulders while Gruber moves
up to second in points. Parker Maccianti (Santa Ynez), fifth at
Sycamore, currently sits in third place.
Despite a bout with the flu, Christina Mann (Yucaipa) was again a
winner in Sophomore Girls. “I almost decided that I couldn’t race, but I
got over it enough to where I could make it out here,” she said. “It
affected me just a little on the uphills, but not too much.”
Kaitlin Washburn (Eastlake) rode off with the runner-up position
again and maintains second place in points. Tia Moore had a notable ride
for Yucaipa to finish in third place. Third in points is Dee-Anna Lopez
(Crescenta), who finished fourth at Carving Canyons.
Girls winner Hannah Eckvahl (714, San Gabriel Valley) went from last to
first in her two-lap race. --Photo Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Freshman Boys Division 1
Jacob Jordan (Murrieta) has a perfect season going, but had to work
for it this day. He and Kyle Legge (Newbury Park) went at it down the
finishing stretch in yet another sprint finish, with Jordan getting the
nod by just two seconds. “I grabbed a good gear and took off,” said
Jordan. “That was my first sprint finish. It feels pretty good.”
Likewise, Patrick Liddy (Independent) went side-by-side with Bo
Knickman (Newbury Park) in the final moments to claim third place.
In the point standings, it’s Jordan leading Liddy and Legge.
Freshman Boys Division 2
It’s now two straight for Jack Tucker (Corona del Mar) as well. “It
was pretty good. I tried to suck wheel till the first climb, then put in
a little effort and got a gap and took it from there.” He leads the
point standings after two races, but says he’ll miss the next event in
two weeks. A rider’s best four out of five results count for the
championship, so he’s still in contention.
Evan Williams from the new Big Bear Composite team was second behind Tucker at this race and Mikael Rodgers (South OC) third.
Tucker is leading in points, followed by Nicolas Padilla (South OC) and Rodgers.
The result is the same, but the story is something completely
different. Hannah Eckvahl (San Gabriel Valley) again won the Freshman
Girls class, but this time had to come from way behind. As she tells it,
“Right at the start I locked handlebars with the girl next to me and I
fell. I was able to catch everybody and got back up front just past the
halfway point of the first lap. It was hard. I had Rebecca Israel
chasing me for the rest of the race but managed to make a gap by the
end.” Eckvahl even had enough momentum to overtake the Sophomore Girls
winner, who started five minutes ahead.
Eckvahl and Israel are 1-2 in the standings, followed by third place finisher at Sycamore, Brenna Pratt (Crescenta).
Upcoming series events:
March 24: Beach to Boulders, Lake Perris State Recreation Area, Perris
April 14: Cruise the Keys, Keyesville Special Recreation Management Area, Lake Isabella
May 5: Cow Pie Classic, SG Dirt Club, Los Olivos
May 19: State Championships, Stafford Lake Park, Marin County
About the SoCal High School Cycling League
The SoCal High School Cycling League was organized to provide a
well-defined race season for youth racers and to promote the formation
of teams at public and private high schools. With the cooperation of
local race promoters and our sponsors, the League organizes a first
class series of races designed for high school aged riders and is the
easiest way for youth to get involved in the challenging and exciting
world of competitive cycling. The League exists by virtue of a range of
fundraising activities, as well as generous donors, and League sponsors
including Jeep, Felt Bicycles founding national sponsor Specialized Bicycle Components; as well as establishing sponsors Easton Foundations, SRAM, and Trek Bicycles; major sponsors Sho-Air,
JEEP, Clif Bar and Company, Primal Wear, QBP, Simplicity Bank, Kayo
Clothing, Rock N' Road Cyclery, Turner Bikes, Jax Bicycle Center,
CamelBak, GU Sports, Kinetic, Maxxis, Orange Seal Cycling, Feedback
Sports, Ft. Lewis College, Fox Racing Shox, and Ritchey Designs; and media partners Mountain Bike Action, Dirt Rag, and Cyclingnews. For more information on the League, visit www.socaldirt.org or contact Matt Gunnell at email@example.com or (818) 415-1133.