Jordan (Murrieta Valley HS) reacts after his first Varsity win on a
brutal day in Keyesville. --- Photo by Phil Beckman, PB Creative
High Intensity, High Winds Headline “Cruise the Keys”
April 17, 2013
2013 SoCal High School Mountain Bike Racing Series ROUND FOUR
Cruise the Keys, Lake Isabella, CA
By Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Contact: Matt Gunnell, firstname.lastname@example.org, (818) 415-1133, www.socaldirt.org
Photo gallery with captions
Lake Isabella, Calif.
— To say the fourth round of the 2013 SoCal High School Cycling League
season was a little windy would be like saying a Great White is a little
fishy. Flags were whipping straight out. Tents rolled around like
tumbleweeds. Awnings, pets and small children needed to be bolted to the
ground. Plus it was drier than week-old popcorn. By the end of the day
most of the volunteers, supporters, coaches and staff had less skin
moisture than King Tutankhamun.
But this is mountain biking, folks, and dealing with adverse weather
is what mountain bike folks do best. A bit of horizontal air velocity
was not going to keep 330 tenacious student athletes from 36 teams away
from the exhilarating terrain on offer at the highly shredable
Keyesville Special Recreation Area.
"Keyesville always turns into an epic weather race for us,” Matt
Gunnell, the Executive Director of the SoCal High School Cycling League,
reminded us. “Last year it was freezing rain and this year it was
howling wind. But conditions like these just turn the dial to 11 in
terms of memorable racing in one of the most scenic venues in all of
high school mountain biking. The course combined with the wind really
stretched the riders. Everyone who finished knew they had been to battle
and come out victorious. That's how memories are made and stories
Gunnell was pleasantly surprised by the way the idyllic meadow used
for this race had filled up, "Due to the distance of Keyesville from
most of our League riders I was expecting a large drop off in ridership
at this event. But that was not the case at all. It's been clear from
the first race we held in Keyesville in 2011 that people really love the
course and the camping festival vibe. I heard from many families that
they look forward to the race every year and make it an extended
weekend. Judging from the number of new motorhomes and trailers that
filled our venue, many of which I’m told were purchased just for high
school mountain biking, I think I should have gone into the RV sales
Bicycles sponsored an essay contest and gave away this sweet ride as
the grand prize. Shown here are contest winners (l-r) Chris Perez (St.
Francis), Ellis Cobb (Crescenta Valley) and, representing Felt bike
winner Ty Dawkins (Redlands), Coach Woody Woodruff. - Photo by Phil
Beckman, PB Creative
Yucaipa High School found itself at the top of the Division 1 team
charts for the third time in four events this year, narrowly edging the
previous round winner and defending champion, Hemet High. Woodcrest
Christian rounded out the top three.
Yucaipa Head Coach Mike Bagg gave special recognition to Jacob
Dechellis, Zandon Smith and Rebecca Israel for their scoring
contributions, but pointed out that the team only had one win for the
day, from Christina Mann. “Overall, when you have a big, deep team that
trains hard, you can still pull it off. We had a good day and we’re very
thankful. It’s fun,” stated Bagg.
Crescenta Valley High School likewise captured its third win of the
season among the smaller Division 2 teams, in similar fashion as
Yucaipa. “My Varsity and JV riders had a tough day, and they usually put
up the most points for our team,” said Head Coach Jim Rowton. “But
we’re deep enough and strong enough that our other riders were able to
take up the slack. We have riders who continue to achieve their best
rides ever, and that’s a beautiful thing.”
Ramona High School and El Toro High School finished second and third at “Cruise the Keys,” respectively.
For the season, with only one event remaining, the Division 1
database shows Yucaipa on top of Hemet and Woodcrest. In Division 2,
Crescenta Valley leads South Orange County Composite with Corona del Mar
and El Toro tied for third. In team competition, all five races of the
series are scored for the year’s championships.
Crescenta Valley took its third D2 team win of the season. --- Photo by Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Jarred Jordan (Murrieta) made a loud and clear statement that he
deserves to wear the Leader Jersey in this class. Following a four-lap,
24-mile battle with Wyatt Myers (Victor Valley) and early leader Sammy
Bello (Independent), Jordan had just enough power left to slip away in
the final moments and seize his first Varsity triumph by ten seconds.
Myers and Bello went 2-3.
According to Jordan, “It was a rough race, dealing with the wind. It
was a whole different thing to think about tactically. Other than that,
the race went pretty good. I put in a hard effort right before the
finish; it was now or never. I’m pretty excited about my first Varsity
win, which extends my points lead a little more. It was good competition
Bello now moves into second in the point standings, followed by Alex
Bagg (Yucaipa), Sean Bird (St. Francis) and Garrett Gaither (Ramona).
For individual competitors, the best four out of five races count for
final season laurels.
Finchamp sealed the season Varsity Girls jersey by taking her fourth
win in a row. --- Photo by Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Defending champion Hannah Rae Finchamp (Maranatha) led this class
from start to finish to record her ninth Varsity Girls win in a row. Not
even a hot, windy XTERRA West Championship in Las Vegas the day before —
where she won her age group with a time that would have put her in
sixth place in the pro women’s field — could keep her off the top step.
“On Sunday morning I was feeling pretty tired but with a lot of
prayer and positive thinking I was still able to have a good race,”
Finchamp reported. “It basically came down to the fact that I love
mountain biking and no matter how the race goes I am just blessed to be
out riding my bike.”
Emma Klingaman (Hemet) snared second place about two minutes behind,
having overcome a strong challenge from Dalma Felenyi (Rim of the
World). As Klingaman described it, “Dalma was ahead of me for awhile and
had a pretty good gap. It took me awhile to catch up. I was able to
make the pass on the second lap, just before one of the singletracks. It
was a good race overall.”
Finchamp holds a commanding lead in the standings ahead of Klingaman,
Morgan Zurborg (Woodcrest), Megan Bradley (Rim of the World) and Dalma
Felenyi, who held on for her best Varsity finish yet for third at
Sean Bell (El Toro) had a breakout day with his first JV Boys D2 win in
one of the most competitive fields going this season. --- Photo by Phil
Beckman, PB Creative
Going four-for-four in this class for 2013 is Ema Suarez
(Independent), enjoying another decisive victory at Keyesville. She
assumed a comfortable lead shortly after the start but may have
regretted it. “The wind in the first lap was decent but in the second
lap it was much stronger and I had to fight it alone, with no help. I
would love to thank my coaches, Deyaniro Guerrero and Alex Estrada for
always helping me and trying to get the best out of me; my family and
friends that always support me with everything they can; and for SoCal
High School Cycling League for permitting me to race and making this
Alexis Marques earned second this weekend ahead of Hemet teammates
Arcelia Mercado and Hayleigh Kirkham. In points, Suarez is pulling away
from Marques, Kirkham and Mercado, in that order.
JV Boys Division 1
Despite repeated attempts to break away from this highly competitive
class, Imeh Nsek (Independent) had to wait for just the right moment to
make it stick. “The wind was a huge factor in the race,” he told us. “It
made the race a sufferfest if you were out there alone. It was part of
the reason that the first lap was slow; it made it a very tactical race
in which nobody wanted to lead. On the last lap, Micah Swinhart
[Woodcrest] was leading, with me right on his wheel. He made a mistake
on a narrow, off-camber hill and I capitalized on it and made it around
him. From then on I was alone.”
Randy Graham (Murrieta) and Zandon Smith (Yucaipa) finished second
and third. In the standings, it’s now Nsek ahead of Michael Lansing
(Woodcrest) and Graham.
JV Boys Division 2
The streak had to come to end some time. James Pflughaupt (Corona del
Mar) had racked up an impressive string of victories dating back to the
previous season, but the streak was snapped at Keyesville when Sean
Bell (El Toro), who had been lurking at every round, broke through for
his first high school mountain bike win.
“I was always right there in the other races, never too far behind,
but today I just felt really good and went for it,” Bell beamed. “Daniel
Johnson and James Pflughaupt and I were together for most of the race,
as we usually are. On the last lap I attacked on the final climb and got
about a ten-second gap that I was able to hold to the finish. It’s
awesome. I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Pflughaupt and Johnson (South Orange County) were separated by only
four seconds at the line to round out the top three. The series’ Leader
Jersey remains on Pflughaupt’s shoulders in one of the most compelling
stories of the season, with Bell and Johnson keeping it close.
Sophomore Boys D2 fell to Alexander Deroche (624, Crescenta) once again. - Photo by Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Score four for Christina Mann (Yucaipa). Unbeaten in this class all
year, she pulled another disappearing act to win by well over eight
minutes. Hello, Varsity class…
For Mann, this was a bit of redemption. “This is definitely a tough
course, so I was a little nervous at the beginning. I was worried
because last year I got lost and it ended up being my worst race of the
series,” she related.
Runner-up once again was Kaitlin Washburn (Eastlake). Tia Moore
(Yucaipa) had to dig deep for third, barely outpacing teammate Lauren
Small to the finish line.
Mann’s victory solidified her points lead over Washburn and Small.
Sophomore Boys Division 1
“I owe my win to him,” said Geoffrey Bartz (Independent) of
consistently close competitor Dillon Gamache (Yucaipa). “We worked
together the whole race. My thanks to Dillon; he made it a good race.”
It was the second consecutive win for Bartz, who hails from nearby
Bartz claimed that the wind wasn’t an issue. “I’ve been riding in
these conditions for the past three weeks so I wasn’t too fazed. It’s
definitely a home course advantage for me here.”
Gamache finished second to remain in the points lead but Bartz is
closing in. Hayden Ramsay (Yucaipa) had a tough day and finished sixth,
but holds a close third in the standings. The final event for the SoCal
Series will be a shootout between these three.
Jacob Dechellis (Yucaipa) was third at Keyesville, after a race-long
duel with Bailey Eckles (Independent); they were separated by only two
seconds at the line in what would be season-best finishes for both.
Sophomore Boys Division 2
Alexander Deroche (Crescenta) continues to impress. This thoughtful
young man scooped up his third win of the season with room to spare.
Caden Gruber (Corona del Mar) finished alone in second while Tobias Iven
(Crescenta) rolled in for an unchallenged third.
“It went well,” understated Deroche. “I think I played the right
moves in the beginning and got myself to the front at the climb, then
built a lead. I tried to imagine that there was someone right behind me.
It’s not good to ease up when you’re winning. The wind was a problem.
There were lots of people walking these hills, and one actually blew
into me. I want to make a callout to Montrose Bike Shop. They are really
generous sponsors and get our bikes prepared to win.”
Deroche extended his points lead ahead of Gruber and Parker Maccianti
(Santa Ynez), who was tenth at Keyesville but will have home court
advantage at the series finale.
Liddy (810, Independent) grabbed another Freshman Boys D1 victory and
will be wearing the Leader Jersey at the next round. - Photo by Phil
Beckman, PB Creative
Remember this name: Hannah Eckvahl (San Gabriel Valley) notched her
third win of the season, in the process turning in one of the fastest of
laps of all the gals racing at Keyesville (a 27:44). The soft-spoken
Eckvahl admitted that she was using the classes that started in front of
her as motivation, but insisted that she was not trying to make a
statement. “I just like to win,” she said. “I’m just very competitive.”
Brenna Pratt (Crescenta) finished second by about a minute and a
half, but had an identical second lap time as Eckvahl. Rebecca Israel
(Yucaipa) rode alone in third out of a field of 20.
Eckvahl leads the standings handily, with Pratt in second and Israel third.
Freshman Boys Division 1
It was another nail-biter in this large class. After a leading group
of five was reduced to two on the second and final six-mile lap, Patrick
Liddy (Independent) was able to outsprint Kyle Legge (Newbury Park) for
his second win in a row. Jake Legge (Newbury Park) grabbed third.
As Liddy remarked, “I attacked on the last corner down there. I got
about a five second gap on Kyle and pulled off the win. It was really
close and we were both super-tired. The wind was terrible. At one point I
was blown about three feet off the trail. It was ridiculous, but the
course was awesome, my favorite so far.”
Liddy moved to the top of the standings ahead of Jacob Jordan
(Murrieta), who was recovering from a fall suffered two weeks prior and
finished fourth at Keyesville. Third is occupied by Kyle Legge.
Freshman Boys Division 2
Jack Tucker (Corona del Mar) powered to his fourth straight win in
this class, and then reported, “I’m pretty sick, so I got lucky. It’s a
bad cold. I felt like I had no power at all. The first climb started and
I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to hurt,’ but I put in a little effort —
not really an attack — and just broke away. It split up and I held it
from there. It felt good to win when sick.”
Evan Williams (Big Bear) put in a capable ride to trail Tucker by only 18 seconds; Evander Hughes (Great Oak) was a solo third.
The top three in the point standings did not change after Keyesville:
Tucker leads Hughes and Mikael Rodgers (South Orange County), who was
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.