By: Darya Farrokhi and Shirin Farrokhi
The positive energy filled the air this past Sunday morning as the racers, families and coaches arrived and teams brought the infield to life. Clear blue skies and a cool breeze made for a great start to Race Day #1 with an amazing turnout that doubled the league’s numbers from last year. Before the races had even begun, competitors were scoping out the course during early pre-rides. The spirit and enthusiasm of the new middle schoolers soon became evident as they raced around practicing their wheelies and blowing horns with excitement.
Some wonderful modifications were made to the course at the Conyers International Horse Park this year. The course was extended and a few tough hill climbs were taken out, which made for a smooth ride—perfect for testing riders’ speed and endurance. That, however, did not take away from the course’s tough roots and rugged rocks that riders faced around turns and on downhill slopes. A big challenge for many of the racers was a steep uphill near the end of the course that required much endurance and drive to overcome, but that did not stop riders from pushing through the finish line.
Pre riders were present and pumped both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, getting to know the trail on which riders hoped to push themselves and come out on top on race day. Middle schooler Andrew Eith (Pace Academy) said that the pre ride helped him find tricky spots, “I knew there was going to be a giant hill and to take it easy.” Coaches and teams got together and rode the course as much as they could, looking for tough spots and places to pass competitors. There was also a great turnout of parents sharing their love of riding with their kids as they cheerfully gave away their weekend to get in a good pre-ride lap or two. Thumbs up to the Crank Sisters who lead girls in pre-rides and helped competitors get to know the trail with enthusiasm.
High School Girls
First up to race Sunday morning were the varsity girls who showed much excitement as they rolled up to the starting line for their second season of racing. First time junior varsity rider, Tiffany Jones (Blankets Creek) commented that she was nervous before the race, but “just being on the trail takes everything away.” When it was the freshman’s turn to start their first race they were nervous but knew they were capable of running down the course like any other high schooler. Freshman, Katie Ramsager (Roswell) said, “I think that if you are confident in yourself, that others are confident in you too, and you can do well.” Eighth grader Ellie Hayes (Primma Tappa) came into NICA this year with big nerves as her father had petitioned her up to the freshman bracket, but she proved him right by coming in first at the finish line.
Top 3 Results:
1. Molly Hayes – Primma Tappa
2. Abby Hobbs – Fannin County
3. Hailey Galloway – Fannin County
1. Kate Tawes – Roswell
2. Madison McMahan – Blankets Creek
3. Scarlett Mayes – Habersham
1. Kirsten Brown – Habersham
2. Hannah Hicks – North Cobb Christian
1. Ellie Hayes – Primma Tappa
2. Katie Ramsager – Roswell
3. Celeste Montero – Primma Tappa
The middle schoolers stepped up to the plate and rocked their way through the finish in the first race of their inaugural season proving that even they are perfectly capable of completing the same course raced on by high schoolers. High school riders were excited to have such a great addition to their teams and welcomed new riders with open arms. “I felt pretty great coming onto the team cause I knew a lot of the kids on my team, so they could help me out if I needed anything,” said 8th grader Logan Griffith (Roswell). This was the middle schoolers’ first race and though many came with pre race jitters, they were eager and ready to go at the starting line.
As new riders faced obstacles and challenges, 7th grader Jefferson Stelly (Anderson) said, “you just gotta push through it, and it’s gonna hurt.” Devin Watts (Habersham), a middle schooler, showed that he truly possesses a strong mind when he got up from a crash in which he possibly fractured his arm (we are pleased to report it was a deep bruise and not a fracture). When Devin was asked about whether or not he will continue to race for the league after he recovers from his injury, he replied, “absolutely!” Everyone in the league is pumped for the middle school addition and cannot wait to see what else these young students have to offer.
Top 3 Results:
1. Katherine Davis
2. Kaitlyn Stahl
3. Phoebe Manske
1. Ben Tolliday
2. Carson Blackford
3. Eli Saxton
1. Lily Gowens
2. Stella Glover
3. Madeline Soles
1. Logan Pelton
2. Benjamin Schmidt
3. Samuel Anderson
High School Boys
As race day continued the sun started to warm up the course and the high school boys took to the stage. Bennett Lisenby (Galloway) commented that having strong minds helped him and his team mates race; “discipline in practice carries over to races, making races easy for the team.” Racing his second season in NICA’s varsity boys level, Colton Davis (Cherokee) said his strategy going into the race was, “Be fast. Stay fast.” Jack Brown (Grayson), number three in varsity, said it was important for him to “keep focus on the trail, not get distracted, and keep a level head”. Before the race even started, Jack had an air of confidence as he was asked about strategy, he said all he had to do was “keep it steady” and put in “full effort.”
Top 3 Results:
1. Chase Key – Fannin County
2. John Wagner – Primma Tappa
3. Jack Brown – Grayson
1. Marco Newman – Athens Area
2. Davis Branyon – Primma Tappa
3. Jacob Smith – Blankets Creek
1. Hayden Dillon – Blankets Creek
2. Zach Funk – Primma Tappa
3. Nicholas Allen – Grayson
1. Joshua Dumford – Blankets Creek
2. River Key – Fannin County
3. Gannon Ramlogan – Cherokee
The new season has brought huge growth to the league. There are twice as many racers and teams and almost twice as many coaches. Some of the teams have started up very recently. The Athens Area Mountain Bike Team had their first practice on July 11th. Athens Area Team Director, Jim Materne, was really impressed with how far his kids had come in such a short time. Their team, like many others, started up when a mountain bike enthusiast heard of the Georgia League and could not let such a great opportunity to get local kids and fellow riders on the trails pass.
There was also great sportsmanship among the teams. Riders high-fived, embraced, shook hands, and encouraged each other at the start and finish lines. Molly Hayes (Prima Tappa) gushed, “I like that all the teams cheer for each other even if your teams are rivals … you’re still cheering for them to go faster.” Many teams, parents and siblings were seen running along the sidelines and cheering racers on as they pushed through to get to the finish!
Top 3 Team Results:
1. Hall County Primma Tappa Composite 2170.00
2. Fannin County Composite 2133.00
3. Athens Area Composite 2100.00
See the complete list of Race 1 Results HERE!
Thanks for a great first race!
Thank you to everyone who came out to make the race possible, especially to all those parents who put in hours of their time to get their kids out on the trails. Thank you to Kenny Griffin and his staff and volunteers for running another spectacular race. And a special thanks to everyone who volunteered to help set up and direct the course as well as those helped take down the course after the race.
Click HERE to view and order photos from the race from H & H Multimedia.