After the second race of the season on Sept. 10, the local High Desert Composite mountain bike team is ranked 24th out of 31 teams in the overall division standings of the Colorado High School Cycling League.
The Montezuma County-based high school team is in its second year, and has grown from two riders to six riders. They are junior Andrei Hiouas, sophomores Gabe Frizzell, Will Brown and Tyson Schmidlin, and freshmen Thorin Howell and Trenton Bagge. Five attend Montezuma-Cortez High School, and one is home-schooled.
The team is not tied to any one school, and any student can join. There are divisions for freshmen boys and girls, sophomore boys and girls, junior varsity boys and girls and varsity boys and girls. They compete in Division 2 of the South Conference along with the Durango High School team, which is in first place.
During the Cloud City Challenge in Leadville on Sept. 10, freshmen Howell and Bagge took 26th and 41st places, respectively out of 129 finishers. Hiouas, racing for junior varsity, placed 31st out of 141 finishers.
In their race, sophomores Brown, Frizzell and Schmidlin finished 41st, 74th and 89th, respectively, out of 116 finishers.
During the Frisco Bay Invitational Aug. 27, Hiouas finished 38th out of 138 riders in the junior varsity category. In the freshmen’s race, Howell was 16th and Bagge was 32nd out of 125 riders.
“It’s been impressive how well they have done in the short time they have been racing,” said High Desert coach Mike Schmidt, a former mountain bike racer for Fort Lewis College. “The goal is for them to have fun and enjoy the sport.”
High Desert Composite competes in four races, with the next one Sept. 24 in Granby.
“The team is growing and gaining traction,” said team organizer Pete Eschallier. “A lot of people don’t know about it, but it is a great opportunity and a lot of fun.”
The team holds regular practices at Boggy Draw and Phil’s World, offering instruction on basic riding technique and racing tips.
Coach Sabina Kraushaar, who also raced for Fort Lewis, is urging girls to sign up for the program.
“They can be any age at any ability level,” she said. “We are interested in getting any youth into riding bikes.”
The team competes in the Colorado High School Cycling League and is sanctioned by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
It is an offshoot of High Desert DEVO, which began in 2015 to support local youth mountain biking and race training.
For more information, contact Pete Eschallier at 970-565-4408 or email HighDesertDevo@gmail.com. The team also has a Facebook page.