Skiers wrap up prep mountain biking season
The Aspen Times
The Aspen High School mountain bike team wrapped up its second season at the Colorado High School State Championships in Eagle.
The Skiers, a composite club team that includes cyclists from Glenwood Springs and Basalt high schools, completed its second year competing in the Colorado High School Cycling League.
The Aspen High mountain bike team was managed by Aimee Ross. Coaches included head coaches Nat Ross and Paul Stucki with assistance from John Callahan and Kurt Fehrenbach.
“Aspen competes as a Division 2 school within the league,” Ross said. “We are a Division 2 team based on team size, not the size of the school.”
She said Aspen High School is one of seven schools in the state that provides letters to competitors based on predetermined criteria.
Ross said the Colorado High School Cycling League directed four races this year, opening with the YMCA of the Rockies event in Granby in early September.
The second race was staged in Leadville on the Nordic trails around the Colorado Mountain College campus.
In October, the series went to Elbert for the Peaceful Valley race.
“There was a fast and dry course there, and the team shined brightly that day,” Ross said.
The final race of the season — the state championships — were held in Eagle.
“Eagle certainly rolled out the red carpet to show these students how a town can really stand behind the sport of mountain biking,” she said.
Cyclists had warm temperatures and clear skies for the state races.
The Aspen High School mountain bike team includes the following:
Varsity boys — Kevin Callahan (Aspen);
Junior Varsity Boys — Connor Laughren, Nicolas Laughren and Matt Herndon (all of Aspen);
Sophomore Boys — Dylan Gressett, Chase Ellsperman (both of Basalt) and Peter Psaledakis (Aspen);
Freshman Boys — Benny Smith, Aaron Smith and Jacob Barsness (all of Glenwood Springs);
“We had an interesting opportunity with Kevin Callahan this year,” Ross said. “With his consistent race results throughout the summer in road racing, we were able to petition him to race varsity this year. Our petition was granted, and Kevin most certainly made a name for himself in the varsity category.”
The varsity boys race four laps on a 5-mile course at their events with about 600 feet of elevation gain per lap.
Callahan finished around 20th in each race, giving him a 24th-place finish for the season.
“The junior varsity boys have all been with us since the team commenced in August of 2013,” Ross said. “They were back for another year and another lap. “
She said the JV boys race three laps, one more than the previous year as sophomores.
“They all stood up to the challenge, and we couldn’t have been more proud of how our JV boys finished out the season,” Ross said.
The JV Boys Division 2 includes the highest rider count of the various divisions. This year there were 124 cyclists in the division.
“Connor Laughren finished 56th for the season, followed by his brother Nicolas Laughren in 62nd,” Ross said. Matt Herndon rounded out the JV boys with a 109th place for the season.
The sophomore boys ride two laps. The Division 2 sophomore boys had 93 cyclists this year.
Dylan Gressett and Chase Ellsperman, both from Basalt, competed in all four races this year. They finished 53rd and 63rd, respectively.
Peter Psaledakis joined the squad for the final race. He had to start in the last row, but managed to pass 40 riders. He finished 87th for the series.
“Rounding out the team are our boys from Glenwood Springs,” Ross said. “Benny and Aaron (Smith) really competed against themselves this year.”
She said they showed respect for each other and the team.
Benny finished out the season in 19th; Aaron in 29th.
Pal Jacob Barsness, also of Glenwood Springs, also had a strong season.
Even though he missed the first race, he still finished the season in 34th place overall out of 91 racers.
“Our freshmen boys definitely made for an exciting race each weekend,” Ross said.
The team, without any female riders, still finished 32nd overall.
“We couldn’t be more proud,” Ross said.
She said the team hopes to add females to the roster next season.
“We are heavily recruiting girls for next season,” she said.
Ross said Colorado prep cycling growth continues to soar in Colorado.
She said a total of 753 riders participated in league races this season.
The statewide league also set a record with 613 mountain bikers in the Eagle state championships.
For more information on the Aspen High School mountain bike team, contact team director Aimee Ross at aimeerush @hotmail.com
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Basalt, Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs previously announced they would wait until the spring as well.