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PREP MOUNTAIN BIKING: Miners earn podium finishes in season opener

Mina Ricci
Special to The Union
Nevada Union's Orion Minty (second from left) and Anthony Pritchett (second from right) on the podium at Fort Ord after finishing first and second, respectively, in the boys freshman race.
Submitted photo by Joel Richnak

Fort Ord was once again the first stop for the Nevada Union mountain bike team, now in its 19th season competing against some of the best high school mountain bike racers in the country in the NICA League’s NorCal Division I.

The Miners were one of two original NorCal teams in its inaugural year (2001). Currently the league has 60 teams in two conferences including 35 in NU’s North Conference.

The so called “Fun at the Fort” race was especially exuberant this year due to the perfectly warm conditions, a nice break from the rain many riders have been experiencing. The Feb. 24 race took place on one of the first beautiful days of the year, the clouds breaking the previous day to reveal a beautiful course and sunny skies.

The race was set in Monterey Bay’s Fort Ord, featuring the course’s signature sandy trails, epic views and short, steep climbs.

The results of the first race broke a two-year curse for the Miners, with riders new and old pushing hard to earn third place overall with 4,032 team points, a mere 25 points behind Sir Francis Drake’s second place.

“This is the second time in the past 10 years that we, as a team, have been on the top-three podiums and I don’t think we’ll be giving that spot up for the rest of the season,” said Nevada Union coach Evan Smith. “The riders will only get faster from here; I’m really looking forward to seeing how they improve for our next race in Folsom on March 16th.”

Although all finishers earn points, only the top-eight riders from each team are used for scoring and must be comprised of both boys and girls to make the total. Many Nevada Union riders dominated at this race, with three girls finishing in the top 15 and nine boys finishing in the top 10 for their individual categories.

In the junior varsity girls race, second year rider Skyler Meinholz finished in ninth place with Zara Katzenstein, also second year, finishing in 15th.

Senior Morgan Smith finished 12th place in her first ever varsity race, a great result for the incredibly competitive varsity field.

“I was hesitant at first to move up to varsity, but going into this race weekend I knew I made the right choice,” said Morgan Smith. “All the varsity girls talking and encouraging each other at the start line was awesome to be a part of and only made the race between all of us stronger, more positive, and fun!”

The Nevada Union Miners dominated the boys podiums. First year racer Orion Minty grabbed the freshman category leader jersey by riding into first place. Anthony Pritchett finished close behind in second place, taking over the freshman boys’ podium.

Jonathan Schreiter rode to a second place podium spot in the sophomore boys division. Also competing in the sophomore race was Ethan Hennessey, who finished in sixth.

The junior varsity and varsity divisions were some of the hardest fields to compete in, but the NU boys showed no fear. Grayson Garton grabbed the silver medal in junior varsity, while Riley Richnak and Eli Washburn finished in seventh and eighth place, respectively.

In the boys varsity division, two Miners boys rode to top-10 results. Myles Morgan, a senior racer, finished in sixth place, while Korbin Moorehead finished just behind him in seventh.

“My race was pretty good,” said Morgan. “I was mostly mechanical free and felt strong after fighting a cold leading up to the race. Varsity is a whole new ball game and I am excited to keep the quest for a varsity podium going strong.”

For those who would like to see the team in action, the next race this season will be March 16 at the Folsom Lake State Recreation area.

For more information or to find out how to support the team go to the Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County’s website http://ybonc.org.

Mina Ricci is a freelance writer who contributes to The Union.


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