Port Townsend mountain bike team captures state championship

 

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WASHOUGAL — The Olympic Mountain Bike Team of Jefferson County, the Killer Whales, ended its second regular season with a bang at the state championships.


The high school team, composed mostly of Port Townsend athletes, ended up with six state champions, three girls and three boys, and five of those also were overall points winners on the state course at Washougal on Sunday.

“The kids have had an amazing season in only their second year,” coach Doug Ross said.

“All of the kids qualified for nationals.”

The state championship was a USA Cycling qualifying race for USA Cycling Cross Country Mountain Biking Nationals scheduled for Bear Creek, Pa., in July.

The Killer Whales have been on a roll recently, having captured first place overall at each of the past three regular-season races, setting the stage at state.

The North Olympic Peninsula team dominated the other 16 teams at state, winning six state championships and five overall points titles, and sending racers — often more than one — to the podium in every group.

No other rider was more dominant than Cassie Ross, who ended the regular season on a perfect note.

She won the girls varsity title, completing a sweep by winning every one of her races this season.

Other girls state winners were Mazy Braden in the junior varsity category and Annalise Rubida in intermediate.

Also placing in state for the girls were Camille Ottaway, third in intermediate, while Riley Fukano was third and Sage Brennan fourth in the beginner category.

Girls overall points winners were Cassie Ross for varsity and Ottaway for intermediate.

Killer Whales boys winning state titles were Luca Freier in junior varsity, Andy Hull in intermediate and beginner Groves Moore.

Earning boys overall points honors were Freier in junior varsity, Hull in intermediate and Moore in beginner.

Joseph Tweiten also placed in state for Killer Whales by taking fifth in varsity.

In the closest race of the day, Freier won the junior varsity race by 0.2 seconds; this after racing for more than an hour.

Olympic Mountain Bike Team showed the state its up-and-coming strength in the boys intermediate and beginner divisions.

In the largest field with 31 riders, intermediate rider Hull beat out teammate Oliver Parish by less than 2 seconds, placing first and second, while Joel Mackey tied for fourth.

Completing the domination, Moore finished first, David Hoglund second, Miguel Salguero third, Calvin Leckenby fourth and Jack Doyle tied for fifth in the beginner category.

Killer Whales teammates Eli Biskup, Jake Brady and Gus Wennstrom competed throughout the season but did not attend the state race.

The state results are a culmination of a terrific year for OMBT, according to Ross.

The Killer whales — fueled by sponsor Bob’s Bagels, and riding bikes primarily purchased from and tuned by sponsors The Broken Spoke and PT Cyclery — rode the season through mud, rocks, dust and bumps to a podium finish in every race.

High school mountain biking racers compete in the Washington Student League, which is sponsored by Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

There are four categories for both boys and girls. Each rider is placed in a category based on race experience and overall placing from previous races.

Depending on category, race distances range from 4 to 20 miles.

OMBT did not have a middle school team this year but plans are in the works for such a team next year.

Even the Killer Whales coaches had a chance to shine at state.

Assistant coach Christian Young raced in the coaches race on a non-suspension single-speed bike and handily beat all competitors except one, a former teammate from his racing days.

The two raced up the hill to the finish, clasped hands, and happily tied.

In only their second year, OMBT director Doug Ross credits the Killer Whales’ success to the tremendous support from coaches, families and teammates encouraging each other.

“It starts at home, is enhanced by coaches who have a passion for cycling, is supported by our community’s trails and resources, and the trickle-down effect leads to great things for kids,” Ross said.

OMBT coaches are all volunteers, including Doug Ross, Young, Dash TudhopeLocklear, Davis Fogerty, Elizabeth Salvo, Paul Hershberger, Bob Larson and Garth Gourley.

Ross gives special recognition to Young, a former Washington state mountain bike and cyclo-cross champion, for sharing his passion with the team.

Next up for the Killer Whales is the nationals, but the team is discussing whether or not it can finance the trip or to choose a closer regional race instead.

Many teammates are considering pursuing other cycling disciplines during the summer such as road racing and cyclo-cross.

The team will have fundraising events such as hours of pedaling on stationary trainers outside of The Broken Spoke in Port Townsend.

Fourteen of OMBT’s 20 riders were new to competitive mountain biking this year, and there are no seniors, so the Killer Whales are looking for continued domination in the years to come.

Original article can be found here: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130523/news/305239990/sports-port-townsend-mountain-bike-team-captures-state-championship/