Snow Canyon High prevails in cold, soggy mountain bike races at Cedar City

Riders compete in the rain during the Utah High School Cycling League's mountain bike race near Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 6, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Desert Hills Mountain Bike Team, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — It was a cold and soggy Saturday for the 600-plus riders in the fourth and final race of the regular season for the Utah High School Cycling League’s South Division.

The races were staged at the Three Peaks Recreation Area northwest of Cedar City.

Parker Christensen and Laken Ence of Snow Canyon ride in Utah High School Cycling League’s mountain bike race near Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 6, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Snow Canyon Mountain Bike Team, St. George News

For the fourth straight race, Snow Canyon’s team took first place in its division, giving the Warriors the overall season win in Division 2 with 12,355 points, 217 points more than runner-up Orem.

Among other Southern Utah schools within the 20-team Division 2, Dixie High’s team placed fifth overall, Hurricane finished 10th, Iron County’s composite team placed 11th, Crimson Cliffs was 12th, Pine View was 13th, and Enterprise took 19th. In addition, Desert Hills placed sixth among D1 schools.

“It was rainy, cold, and muddy. Luckily, the course sheds water well and we were able to race every group,” Snow Canyon head coach Nate Hansen said of Saturday’s event.

In the morning, the athletes in the boys and girls varsity categories each went for three laps around the 5.8-mile course. All other groups did only one lap due to the rainy weather. Although the season’s three previous race events had included junior high and middle school racers, Saturday’s regular season finale was for high schoolers (grades 9-12) only.

Leading the way for Snow Canyon was Parker Christensen, who won the Division 2 boys junior varsity race with a one-lap time of 25 minutes, 23 seconds. Coming in second place (out of 70 competitors) was teammate Laken Ence, who finished in 25:37.

In the boys varsity race, Kyler Gibb of Snow Canyon placed second overall with a three-lap time of 1:10:14. In that same race, Adam Seegmiller of Desert Hills placed eighth with a time of 1:14:38.

Fellow competitors from three schools congratulate each other: Camryn Christensen of Desert Hills, Kate Wilson of Snow Canyon and Sophie Phelps of Dixie, Utah High School Cycling League’s mountain bike race near Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 6, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Desert Hills Mountain Bike Team, St. George News

Kim Christensen, who coaches both Desert Hills and Pine View’s teams, said Seegmiller broke his knee last year during another cold, wet race at Snow Basin.

“He could have easily decided that he didn’t want to chance it, but instead showed an immense amount of bravery and finished all three laps and came in eighth place,” she said. “I’m so proud of him!”

Another top Southern Utah finisher in the boys varsity race was Christian Wittwer of Dixie, who placed 12th with a time of 1:18:03.

In the girls varsity race, the top two Southern Utah racers were both from Hurricane. Liv Weber finished ninth with a time of 1:37:34, while teammate Braelyn Lisonbee placed 11th in 1:40.02.

In the girls JV race, senior Camryn Christensen of Desert Hills placed third overall with a time of 32:06. Hot on her heels was Sophia Phelps of Dixie, who took fourth with a time of 32:08. Kate Wilson of Snow Canyon was fifth with 32:22.

In the D1 boys JV race, Dominic Stanworth of Desert Hills placed seventh with a time of 26:24.

In the D2 boys sophomore race, Bryant Lisonbee of Hurricane took fourth with a time of 28:04, while Evan Simmons of Snow Canyon placed ninth with a time of 29:27.

Snow Canyon had three of the top five finishers in the sophomore girls race: Layla Purdy placed second with a time of 32:50, Claire Phelps was fourth with 33:34 and Sophie Hafen was fifth with 34:18. In that same race, Dixie’s Mia Johnson finished sixth with a time of 35:13.

In the girls freshman race, Zoe Knudsen of the Iron Giants, Iron County’s composite team, placed third with a time of 33:27. Also in that race, Breanne Stewart of Desert Hills was fourth with 33:33, Kaylee Syphus of Dixie was seventh with 35:50 and Hannah Edwards of Iron was eighth with 36:13.

Kim Christensen, the Desert Hills coach, noted that Stewart had been leading the race until she crashed, after which she got back on her bike and managed to still take third.

Claire Phelps of Snow Canyon rides in the Utah High School Cycling League’s mountain bike race near Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 6, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Snow Canyon Mountain Bike Team, St. George News

“Every single student that raced on Saturday could have easily chosen not to race, but instead showed up despite the cold and rain and raced with everything they had,” Christensen added, saying she was impressed by the resilience shown by the riders.

“We don’t always get perfect racing conditions, and what an amazing learning experience! This was a chance for them to prove to themselves that they can do hard things and rise to any challenge that is thrown at them. These are lessons that they will carry with them always.”

Christensen said Pine View and Desert Hills teams had a combined total of 12 seniors participate.

“This was their last regional race, and what an amazing way to end their high school racing experience!” she said, adding that in particular, she enjoyed hearing her daughter Camryn tell her how encouraging and supportive the other girls are to each other out on course.

“They are competing against each other, but still maintain an essence of grace and love towards their fellow racers,” the coach added. “As soon as they cross the finish line they are hugging and congratulating each other.”

“I love being a part of such an amazing organization that provides a platform for kids to develop not only their physical toughness but their emotional and mental as well.”

Crimson Cliffs riders and coaches at the Utah High School Cycling League’s mountain bike race near Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 6, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Crimson Cliffs Mountain Bike Team, St. George News

In the D2 boys freshman race, Noah Hunt of Iron Giants placed second with a time of 27:31, Andrew Tritle of Dixie was fourth with 28:05 and Peter Butterfield of Crimson Cliffs was sixth with 28:39. Also finishing in the top 10 were Joel Shockley of Snow Canyon, Kai Christensen of Snow Canyon and Kameron Johnson of Crimson Cliffs, who occupied spots 8-10, respectively.

Crimson Cliffs coach Chris Tidwell said he was pleased to see two of his seven freshmen riders make the top-10 podium.

“The smiles at the end were priceless, mud grins from ear to ear!” Tidwell said.

For complete results of Saturday’s races in Cedar City, click here. For more information about the Utah High School Cycling League and its sponsored events, visit its website.

Now that the four-race season series have been completed in each of Utah’s three regions (North, Central and South), teams from all three regions will compete for the state championships Oct. 19-20 in St. George. The state race finishes and standings are separate from those of the regular season, with separate, additional awards. The two-day state event will be staged on a 4.35-mile loop on the Green Valley Trails. After the conclusion of Saturday’s races, team trophies and individual medals will be presented at an awards banquet that evening at Snow Canyon High School.

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