Panthers mountain bikers send eight racers to state after a dominant regular season
Middle Park High School mountain bike racers wrapped up the regular high school season as the Platte Region Division 3 team champions. The Panthers team has ridden strong all season, coming out on top of the podium in all four of the regular-season races. Team standings were close for the first three races, but the Panthers pulled away from the pack in the final race to win the championship by 200 points. This is the first time the team has earned this impressive accolade. The Division 3 category is comprised of 18 teams with 12 or fewer riders. The Panthers will be following up their season championship by sending eight members to the state race.
The team’s final race was on private trails in the Nathrop area outside of Buena Vista. This venue is a part of a unique partnership between the Colorado High School Cycling League and McMurray Ranch and Livestock. The private trails were specifically designed and created by Taf McMurray, who coaches for the Buena Vista team. Compared to most of the other courses in their region, the Nathrop course has a relatively low elevation gain of 466 feet. The course begins and ends in a flat grazing meadow, which makes the venue a good one for spectators. The course circles and goes up and over a plateau followed by fast, flowy singletrack along a river before heading back to the start/finish zone. It has been several years since the team last raced the course, which, with its relatively flat layout, does not play to Middle Park’s climbing strength. This time on the course, the Panthers killed it.
Top podium spot for the team in the Nathrop race went to Josh Davis who took second place in the junior varsity rave. His sister Megan Davis pulled in a fourth-place finish in the varsity race. Next up was Annie Kuhns with a sixth-place junior varsity finish. Gray Barker and Cambree Burke rounded out team points, placing 11th in varsity and 22nd in junior varsity, respectively. Also racing in Nathrop were Luke Peters, Jack Pacocha, Lucas Reade and Connor Clemens. In addition to the team championship, consistently strong finishes by Megan Davis put her on top of the podium as the season points leader and regional champion for the girls varsity category. Megan will ride into the state race wearing the coveted points leader jersey.
The state race will be this weekend in Glenwood Springs. Eight Panthers will race: seniors Megan Davis, Barker and Nate Myers; juniors Burke and Kuhns; sophomores Josh Davis and Page Vecchiarelli; and freshman Pacocha. They will race against the top athletes from all 83 teams in the league.
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