PREP MOUNTAIN BIKING: Nevada Union opens season with 2 first-place finishes | TheUnion.com

PREP MOUNTAIN BIKING: Nevada Union opens season with 2 first-place finishes

Mina Ricci
Special to The Union

The Nevada Union Miners high school mountain bike team rocked their first race of the season this past weekend.

The Miners raced as part of the Northern California division of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, also known as NICA — a nation-wide and tremendously large, popular, and influential high school mountain biking organization started in 2009.

This year's first NICA race was held in the rolling foothills of Fort Ord, just east of Monterey. The course was just over 5 miles long with moderate elevation gain, a collection of swooping, smooth singletrack, short climbs, and sandy corners. Riders skidded down rutted switchbacks and rushed up fast climbs, enjoying the clear skies and light breezes throughout the day.

The earlier storms that week had made parts of the trails more technical, but the Miners pushed through the difficulties and finished in fourth place overall as a team.

Individually, NU riders both new and old thrived on the sandy, fast course. The team gained a new, strong group of freshmen boys and girls this year, helping expand the team.

In the varsity category, NU girls rider Mina Ricci finished in first place, taking the leader's jersey for the next race.

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In the intense boys varsity division, Keegan Zetterberg finished in 11th place, holding his own against some of the best riders in the state.

In the tough boys' sophomore category, rider Myles Morgan placed eighth, fighting through the intense competition to finish in the top 10. The NU freshmen boys had four top-10 finishes: Skye Ricci placed first in the freshmen category, following in his sister's footsteps as race leader. Eli Washburn, Grayson Garton, and Nate Thompson finished eighth, ninth, and 10th, respectively.

NU riders new and old pushed through their individual challenges in this first race, finishing with wide smiles and arms in the air.

The community and new head coach Evan Smith cheered for other riders after the races, helping out where they could and making sure everyone was prepared and having fun.

The NU Miners mountain bike team gets back at it March 12, in Laguna Seca.

To find more information about NICA races, visit http://www.norcalmtb.org. Check out the NU Miners mountain bike team on their Facebook page.

Mina Ricci is a member of the Nevada Union Mountain Bike Team and a Nevada County resident. She is a regular contributor to The Union.