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Local students compete at Mountain Bike State Championships

Nov 01, 2019 01:47PM ● By Arianne Brown

High school-aged athletes from all over the state traveled to Cedar City for the Utah High School State Mountain Bike Championships Oct. 18-19. In this growing sport, 40 of the nearly 70 athletes from the Nebo School District area competed at the meet -- two of whom earned a top 10 finish in their respective divisions.

Payson High School sophomore, Brock Bleggi placed sixth out of 148 competitors in the JV A boys division 2, with a time of 1:24:05.45 for a 21-mile course. Maple Mountain freshman, Preston Johnson placed ninth out of 90 competitors in the Freshman A boys division 2, with a time of 1:2:13.51 for a 14-mile course.

Coach, Jordan Nielson said it took a lot of courage and heart to get out and race, and mentioned how proud he was of all his athletes for how they did on such a challenging course.

“The race started at the Three Peaks Trailhead, and each lap was seven miles of gravel, dirt and slockrock,” Nielson said. “These are not short races. 28-miles for the varsity, 21 for JV and 14 for the freshman on some very hilly and technical areas.”

Nielson acknowledged that for some of the athletes, it wasn’t their day, but he was proud of how they gave all they had.

“Placing in the top ten of any of these divisions is a great accomplishment, and Brock and Preston should really be proud of themselves,” he said. “We had seven seniors this year, too, who also worked very hard to complete these challenging courses.”

One of those seniors was his own son, Graham Nielson who had an unfortunate accident two laps in.

“About 15 miles in, Graham crashed on a turn, hurting his wrist, and he could have quit, but he didn’t,” Nielson said. “He got up and still finished another lap, and it just shows how much heart he and these athletes have.”

With the season having ended for the winter, Nielson is looking forward to next year, and encourages all who want to come out for the team to try it.

“We will have a meeting sometime in April for students grades 7 through 12 who would like to ride,” Nelson said. “All you need is a mountain bike and a helmet, and the desire to try something new.”

For more information on Utah High School Mountain Biking, go to utahmtb.org. To know more about the Nebo team, including updates, go to the Mount Nebo MTB Team High School Comp Team on Facebook. (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)