The Arizona High School Cycling League, in its second year, has increased in numbers and level of competition, said Mike Perry, director of the Arizona High School Cycling League.
“Sunday’s race is key for just about everyone competing for the season overall placement,” Perry said. “On the individual side, seven of the eight categories are still up for grabs. On the team side, it too will be settled on the trails this weekend.”
The close races span from the team competition to the freshmen, where Sunday could be winner-takes-all stakes.
Only eight points separate leader Demi Alexander (Cactus Shadows) from Tristen Musselman (Northland Prep) in the varsity girls race, and Nash Dory (Buena High School) only leads Caiden Plummer (Oro Valley Comp) by 38 points in the varsity boys competition.
Meanwhile, Tucson High School wants to hang on to their 353-point lead in the overall team standings and secure the championship for the second year in a row. But the real overall team race will be for second place, which is currently held by Oro Valley Comp by a narrow margin of 60 points over Cactus Shadows.
Perry said the stiff competition is reflective of higher rider numbers this year, up by 30 percent with nearly 250 participants. Girls numbers have skyrocketed with an increase in riders of 77 percent and both sophomore and freshmen girls categories have more than doubled.
“Organizationally, we’ve focused on refining and enhancing everything we did and learned in our inaugural season last year,” Perry said. “The real growth was organic as teams grew in size. I think there’s still a huge opportunity for us to grow, and quickly.”
Perry said rider participation comes from across the state, not just Phoenix and Tucson. Prescott brings seven teams to the mix, rivaling a high of 10 teams from the Valley. Other teams hail from Show Low, Flagstaff, Havasu, Pinetop and elsewhere.
The junior varsity riders, with new participants this year, have tight races on their hands as well.
Leo O’Neill (Tucson High School) will attempt to hang onto his 66-point lead over William Hughes (Prescott High School), while Angelina Davis (Buena High School) battles for first place with a slim 15-point lead over Hannah Madler (Bradshaw Mountain).
Only nine points separate sophomore girls Kristen Kollus (Mountain Pointe), who leads, and Isabel Hausrath (El Grupo Comp). Similarly, El Grupo Comp’s Chloe Welch only maintains 11 points over Drew Shumaker from Prescott High School for the freshmen girls.
For sophomore boys, Isaiah Martinez (Boulder Creek) is leading Andrew Mull (Prescott High School) by only 26 points, whereas freshman Evan Boone (Buena High School) is leading his teammate Collin Dimattio by 53 points. Dimattio is ahead of Collin Rosborough (Prescott High School) by only 19.