Freshman girls begin their race at the Utah mountain biking state championship meet held at Brand Trails north of Moab on Saturday, Nov. 16. See the results of Grand County High School's mountain bike team on Page 10. [Photo by Nathan Wynn / Moab Sun News]

The Utah high school mountain bike state champsionship meet was held at Brand Trails, north of Moab on Saturday, Nov. 9. There were 452 high school mountain bike racers at the meet; with 367 boys and 85 girls competing.

“In terms of the number of competitors, I was told this was the second biggest event for the league,” said Grand County High School’s mountain bike coach Melissa Nerone.

Grand County mountain bike athletes did well at the state competition.

The team took second place behind South Davis Composite, which has been placed first all season long.

Nerone said that scoring in each category is tiered because of race length and difficulty. Varsity racers earn more points than junior varsity; junior varsity racers earn more than sophomore racers, and so on.

“We did not have any varsity level riders this year,” Nerone said. “We are quite proud of our accomplishment in the team standings.”

Preston Bagley-Gurtner took first place in the junior varsity category. Jamie Marshall had his best finish in fourth place in the junior varsity category. Freshman Bjorn Nicolaisen took third in his race.

Sammy Hansen returned to racing after missing the last two races to take 5th in the sophomore race.

Brityn Ballard and River Murdock had their best races of the year, taking 8th and 12th respectively, both in the sophomore races. Max Lesoine had a top 10 finish as well, taking 9th in the junior varsity race. Robin Willscheidt took home 13th in the junior varsity category.

Grand County High School ended up in fourth place overall for points accumulated during the five race series this season. Half of the Red Devil team earned individual medals for the overall season with Nicolaisen and Bagley-Gurtner finishing in second in their categories. Marshall and Lesoine placed fifth and tenth respectively.

The awards assembly at the Grand County High School auditorum was standing room only, Nerone said.

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) board members, who were in town for a board meeting, were able to witness the grand finale and attended the awards assembly.

Austin McInerny, the executive director of NICA, told the audience about how he was selected for the basketball team at this high school, stating that he spent most of his time on the bench.

He said he only got to play when the team was in the lead by a lot, or losing a lot, “which was a joke,” McInerny said. In turn, it made him feel like a joke, he said.

“In high school mountain biking, there is no bench,” he said.