Big showing by the local team
by Than Acuff
It was an exciting weekend for the CB Devo high school mountain bike team at the state championships held Saturday and Sunday, October 20-21 in Durango as they rallied to a fifth-place finish out of 32 teams. In addition, Sarah Bivens posted the highest finish at the big show of any Crested Butte rider in the nine-year history of the team and coach Torrey Carroll was named the Southern Division Coach of the Year.
The weekend was special before it even got started as 14 CB Devo riders made the cut for the state championships with their results over the course of the year and athletes from throughout Colorado were treated to a new venue for the two days of racing in Durango.
“We liked the venue,” says Carroll. “But it was a little longer than normal and the climbs were a little longer. That, combined with the level of competition, definitely added up to a punishing race.”
The weekend opened with the freshmen girls race on Saturday morning and Sarah Bivens was thrown into the spotlight as she rolled up to the start line in the leader’s jersey having won the overall title for the Southern Division next to the overall winner from the Northern Division.
Once the gun sounded, Bivens jumped into the lead with the Northern leader on her wheel and the two proceeded to charge up the initial climb.
“Those two opened up a pretty good gap on the rest of the field,” says Carroll.
The two riders traded off in the lead during the first of two laps and then battled through the second lap. Her opponent put in a couple sprints to try to drop Bivens but Bivens responded to every push until the final one, eventually falling off her opponent’s wheel but still charging through the finish line in second place, the highest finish of any Crested Butte rider ever.
“It was a great race,” says Carroll. “Super competitive and it was her best race of the season. She definitely left it all out on the course.”
The JV boys class then lined up and CB Devo had two riders in the mix with Gus Bullock and Holden Bradford carrying the local colors. Bullock started in 32nd place in the start corral but managed to gain ground through a stout field of Northern Division riders to place 27th overall, 10th place among his Southern Division rivals.
“It was his best race of the year as well,” says Carroll.
Meanwhile, Holden Bradford maintained his consistency established throughout the season to finish the race right on par with previous results.
The kids returned to the course on Sunday for another series of showdowns, opening with the sophomore girls race at 8:30 a.m. with chilly conditions. Lily Hanna was set up for another stellar showing and had her eyes on the podium. As the field started to separate, Hanna was positioned in fifth place until her chain dropped off, forcing her to jump off and address the mid-race mechanical. Cold hands made for tough repair work and she lost several places but returned to the course and charged her way back into a 12th-place finish.
“She lost quite a few spots,” says Carroll. “It was tough because she had a shot at the podium.”
EmmaJean Lovett’s experience was quite the opposite. She stepped on the throttle from the get-go and moved up more than 15 spots from her start position to finish in 15th place.
“She was super motivated, super focused and in the zone,” says Carroll.
A glitch in the race start for the sophomore boys had a devastating effect on CB Devo athlete Otis McLoughlin. McLoughlin had been climbing the ranks all season long, finishing in eighth in the Southern Division overall to earn the 16th spot in the start corral. But a missed call to the start meant McLoughlin forfeited his spot, dropping him to 60th place at the start. Down but not out, McLoughlin did all he could to pick his way in and around the throngs of riders over the course of his race to eventually finish in 21st place.
“That was brutal,” says Carroll.
Nate Ball held his own to place 53rd and Max Shull, who missed two races this year due to injury, had to start dead last but managed to move from 160th place at the start all the way to 86th by the finish.
“That was pretty impressive,” says Carroll.
The varsity girls then rolled up to the start and Olivia Gordon put her best effort of the season together to finish in 19th place overall and sixth out of her Southern Division peers.
“Her goal was top 20 overall,” says Carroll. “She was super happy with her result.”
The varsity boys closed out the weekend and Robby Oberling led the way for CB Devo coming in 51st place, followed by JC Patterson, Dylan Alagna, Josiah Tunkey and Liam Elliot.
Once the numbers were crunched, CB Devo finished the day in fifth place out of 32 teams, putting a quality finish on a great season for the team.
“It was another awesome season,” says Carroll. “The kids impressed me at every race with their heart and how hard they rode.”