When it comes to high school mountain biking, Durango has a secret weapon.
With both Durango High School and Animas High School fielding mountain bikers who were groomed in the Durango DEVO development program, the two local high schools raced to the top of the heap last weekend in the opening race of the Colorado High School Mountain Bike League.
The two teams finished first and second in Division 2 among the 37 Colorado high schools participating. Individually, there were more than 365 cyclists at the Chalk Creek Challenge at Nathrop, north of Salida.
“The league is a great place for beginner riders and racers, but when you bring a group of athletes who have been practicing with (Durango) DEVO all summer, it was total domination,” said coach Sarah Tescher, who works with both high school teams as well as DEVO.
Kaylee Blevins of DHS won the varsity girls race, with India Waller of AHS second. Ksenia Lepikhina of Boulder Fairview was third, and Kelsay Lundberg of Salida, the younger sister of Fort Lewis College cyclist Garrett Lundberg, was fourth.
Robin Austin of AHS finished seventh in the top girls race.
Sepp Kuss of DHS, a top cross country ski racer, won the boys varsity race at Nathrop. Levi Kurlander, also of DHS, finished third. Stephan Davoust of AHS was fourth.
Among the junior varsity racers, Sierra Trout of DHS finished third.
Nathanael Rodd of AHS finished sixth.
Charlie Greenberg of DHS won the freshman boys race to kick off the fall season, the first of four races.
“I’m so proud of the high school team, not only in their results, but in their abilities to create an atmosphere of fun, teamwork ... being good ambassadors for Durango,” Tescher said in a news release to The Durango Herald.
She said the Durango riders helped race director Kate Rau with the course setup the day before the competition.
“Kate was very impressed with our team’s willingness to lend a hand,” Tescher said.
The veteran coach credited the team’s stellar performance at this season’s inaugural event in part to the prerace pasta dinner cooked for both local squads by Christine Trout, Sierra’s mom.
On race day, Tescher said a number of Durango parents volunteered to help with the race as course marshals and feed-zone workers.
When the first race totals were added, Durango won the Division 2 title, with Animas High School second. Evergreen was third. Grand Valley (Parachute) finished fourth. Green Mountain was fifth, and Fort Collins Poudre finished sixth.
In Division 1, Boulder High School won, with Boulder Fairview second. Vail Valley Composite (Battle Mountain, Vail Mountain School) finished third, Golden fourth, Salida fifth and Summit sixth.
The rest of this year’s Colorado High School Mountain Bike League schedule:
Snow Mountain Ranch Stampede, near Granby, Sept. 23.
Peaceful Valley Invitational, near Elbert, Oct. 7.
North Fruita Desert Classic, Oct. 21.