Originally Published: November 14, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Local high school mountain bike athletes had a stellar season in the inaugural Arizona High School Cycling League. The series wrapped up its final race of the year at the White Tank Regional Park in Waddell Sunday.
Prescott High School stood tallest, finishing second out of 26 teams from around the state. Chino Valley, Bradshaw Mountain and Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy finished a very respectable 7, 8 and 9, and small Canyon View Preparatory Academy finished 19th, but beat larger schools like Flagstaff, Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe.
PHS beat Cactus Shadows by a single point for second place in the team category, and had podium finishes from Andrew Wyrick, second in the JV boys (just nine points out of first), William Hughes tied for third in the sophomore boys, and Dylan Lundmark fourth in the freshman boys.
"All the kids who started also finished every race, so everyone who raced really contributed to the team finishing second in the series," said coach Ray Sullivan, who added he was "really pleased with the turnout, retention and finish of the season."
Janice Dunn, team director and coach of the Chino Valley High School team, said for its inaugural season "the league was extremely organized, the turnout was incredible and very professionally run." Dunn added she was "most impressed with the Prescott area teams and how they all pulled together and supported one another at every race."
Chino had its own stellar performers in sophomore Zoe Dunn, who tied for first and was crowned co-champion of the 2013 season, and JV rider Nicole Linbaugh, who finished fifth.
"I am really excited but it really hasn't hit me yet," Dunn said. "I worked more on speed coming into the race. I had a game plan and it worked out just about right. I felt I had to pass Tristen (Musselman from Northland Preparatory Academy) before the second loop, and when we both went to pass a single rider Musselman got mixed up with the rider and I was able to pass and then put the hammer down for the win and title."
Dunn will be racing in the MBAA series and then improving on her Whiskey Off-Road 25 where she finished fifth in her age group last year.
"It was the most amazing thing as I was coming around the final corner of the final race all I heard was everyone screaming and cheering for me," Dunn added.
Bradshaw Mountain Coach Tracy Madler noted the strong finishing race of Josh Miller (16th) in the boys JV race. Breaking into the top 20 was a goal for the coaches at the beginning of the year.
In JV girls Heidi Madler finished third overall, Rachel Medevielle finished fourth, and in sophomore girls Hannah Madler took third overall.
"I loved the amazing improvement in all our kids, also the number of girls the team was able to get interested and see them grow as young women mountain bikers," Madler said.
Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy coach Tim Connolly said, "We had eight racers that came out regularly this year." Connolly added that Phoebe Teskey was the only non-racer that started the year, yet at the end of the year she was Arizona champion in the girls JV category. "She has the drive and it clicked for her because she was out there having fun," he said.
In the series, racers get to throw out one race and Teskey got the final race thrown out where she still finished a respectable sixth. In her other three races, Teskey had two firsts and a third.
"It was more of a surprise than anything after I flatted on the second lap of the final race. I just hoped to make the podium in the final standings." Teskey said. "I have always had a lot of perseverance and determination and I applied that to mountain biking. I want to represent women as well as I could and empower other young women to get out there and ride as well."
Connolly also had the only two boys from the area racing in the highly competitive varsity boys category. Kyle Johnson and Zach Tacey finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
" I think Zach and Kyle, who are some of the fastest racers locally, were really humbled by the competition they faced from around the state," Connolly said.
Local pro mountain bike racer Chloe Woodruff said "the Arizona High School Cycling League is a huge exposure for the sport and that probably one-half to three-quarters of the athletes competing had never ridden in a race before the league started."
"It's a lifetime sport," she added. "You put in your time and you can keep on improving for years."