The Rhinelander-Northwoods Composite mountain bike team had more of the same results Sunday in round two of the 2019 Wisconsin High School Cycling League season at Nine Mile Forest in Wausau.
The RNC squad, with riders from Lakeland Union and Three Lakes high schools, took first place in Division 2 for the second week in a row. The Rhinelander High School team, with a full roster of eight scoring riders, vaulted up to fifth place in the Division 1 tally.
“I think that I would expect, unless somebody has a technical difficulty, that the RNC team is going to be first or second most of the season, if not the whole season,” head coach Steve Engel said afterward. “I think RHS will be about in the position they’re at, fourth or fifth. They might get up to third to get an award. It’s possible if everybody pulls together and everything lines up in a race we could end up moving up into that position.”
Individual results were on par with last week’s opener in Eau Claire as well. Johanna Craig, Megan Lester and Sage Flory retained their leader’s white jerseys for the Rhinelander squad winning the varsity, JV-3 and JV-2 girls races, respectively. Several other riders had top 15 finish for either the RHS or RNC squads, vaulting both teams up the standings.
Times in general were slower Sunday than the were in the opener in Eau Claire, partly because the course was a little longer, partly because of wet trails and partly due to muggy conditions that greeted the riders at Nine Mile.
“There were a couple of muddy spots out there. There was part of a cutoff that was on a grassy double track and the kids said that was terribly slow. It was a slog of a climb. It definitely took some energy they were telling me,” Engel said. “Cornering wasn’t took bad, unless you got a bit of mud in a strange corner. As long as it’s dry, the dirt’s a little grippier if there’s no dust on it. Down there you have to be careful anyway because there’s a lot granite in the area. There will be some loose granite on some of the corners, so you have to kind of keep you speed planned for that.”
Johanna Craig, a senior from Lakeland, notched her second win in as many races, as she completed a 16-plus mile course in 1 hour, 33 minutes, 34.61 seconds — nearly 3:20 faster than runner up Becca Sommerville from Fall Creek. According to timing and scoring, Craig and Sommerville were even following the first lap of the three-lap race, but Craig opened more than a 90-second margin on the second lap and continued to widen the margin on the final lap.
It was a much closer race in the JV-3 category where Lester, a sophomore from Three Lakes, battled SLS Composite’s Paula Urban virtually the entire way. The two posted identical times over the first two laps before Lester inched away in the final lap two come across the line in 1:41:26.09, and beat Urban by a mere 2.78 seconds.
“Johanna was strongly out in the lead again. Megan was a photo finish almost, the were about a bike length apart. I was around the corner so I didn’t get to see who won, but I knew that was going to be close,” Engel said.
Sophomore Jakob Craig finished seventh overall in the varsity boys’ division while Grace Dorsey finished ninth in the girls’ JV-3 race to round out the scoring for the RNC side.
RNC had three other racers compete in the D2 freshman boys race. Tyler Marquardt finished 31st, Carter Johnson was 38th and Mason Peck finished 49th.
“We had really similar results for everybody. Grace finished better because she didn’t get involved in a crash early,” Engel said. “Those were our four scorers — Jakob, Johanna, Megan and Grace — but we’ve got the three freshmen guys who are looking good and that’s a real competitive field — Tyler, Carter and Mason.”
Rhinelander High School
For the second straight race Flory and Gwyneth Lowry finished on the podium in their respective races for the RHS girls.
Flory pulled away from Lake Mills’ Gracelyn Smith to take the two-lap JV-2 race in a time of 1:07:13.86, beating Smith to the line by 49.50 seconds. Lowry was fifth overall in the JV-3 race (1:47:26.46), roughly six minutes off Lester’s winning pace.
Rhinelander also got top-15 finishes from Jett Biolo in the D1 freshman race (11th), and both Anna Wood (14th) and Madesen Van Order (15th) in the JV-2 girls’ race.
“Sage actually went down in a small crash and still got up and won,” Engel noted. “Gwyn came in fifth in JV3. She’s doing awesome. Jett took 11th, that’s a strong finish in a good field of freshmen boys and then Anna and Madesen came in really close to each other in their JV2 race.”
Travis White and Layne Roeser were 26th and 30th, respectively, in the D1 freshman boys’ race while Kyle Siefert finished 51st in the D1 JV-2 boys’ race.
Rhinelander-Northwoods had four middle school racers on Sunday, three of whom made the podium. Macy Lester won again in the seventh-grade girls’ division, covering one lap in 35:05. Joey Belanger was the runner-up in the eighth-grade boys’ class and Violet Biolo, making her first-ever start, was second in the sixth-grade girls’ division.
Helena Wisner also competed for RNC Sunday, taking 23rd in the seventh-grade girls’ race.
Following a week off, the WHSCL returns to the trails Sunday, Sept. 29 at Nordic Mountain in Wild Rose.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at [email protected]