Sage Flory (429) passes Muskego’s Lexi Jorgensen (113) during a Wisconsin High School Cycling League race at Minooka Park in Waukesha Sunday, Oct. 15. Flory won the JV-2 girls’ race and holds a 30-point lead in the JV-2 standings heading to the season finale Oct. 29 in Waterloo. (Rhinelander Northwoods Composite/Submitted)
10/17/2019 7:30:00 AM RNC riders close in on state titles
With one race remaining in the Wisconsin High School Cycling League season, the Rhinelander Northwoods Composite Mountain bike team is on the verge of a number of state championships.
The Hodag bikers protected their lead in a number of team and individual categories on Sunday in the fourth race of the WHSCL Season at Minooka Park in Waukesha. Johanna Craig and Sage Flory were individual race winners, while Megan Lester and the RNC co-op squad solidified their leads in the season-long points races despite third-place finishes on Sunday.
"Our kids did pretty good," coach Steve Engel said. "We didn't have as many down there as we have had at other races. RHS did a little better than they did two weeks ago. I think that was about the same for RNC. I think they were third back then too."
The Rhinelander High School portion of the squad placed 10th in the Division 1 standings on Sunday.
It all sets the stage for the team to potentially take home three individual and one team state championship a week from Sunday when the season finale takes place at Trek Trails in Waterloo.
The RNC half of the squad - a co-op of riders from Lakeland and Three Lakes - did not give up a lot of ground Sunday despite a third-place finish. The team finished only 45 points behind race winner Marquette and still holds a 119-point lead over Marquette in the overall standings.
Meanwhile both Johanna Craig and Flory are in position to clinch titles in the Varsity girls and JV-2 girls classes, respectively, provided the finish next Sunday's race and earn the 25-point bonus for completing all five races in the WHSCL season. Because the league factors only a racer's four best results, and that Craig and Flory are both 4-for-4 this season when it comes to winning their divisions, they cannot be caught in the standings, provided they earn the five-race bonus.
"It's nice to have that if something breaks or something, you don't have to worry," Engel said.
Flory had the easier go of it on Sunday as she led wire-to-wire to win the approximately 11-mile JV-2 race with a time of 53 minutes, 15.32 seconds, roughly 1:25 ahead of runner-up Gracelyn Smith of Lake Mills.
It was closer for Craig, who was locked in battle against Fall Creek's Becca Somerville the entire distance of the 16-mile varsity competition.
The two turned in nearly identical lap times over the three-lap race, with Craig (1:17:06.43) edging Somerville to the line by 0.72 seconds.
"This time it was a really close race. She's been winning by quite a bit and that one was a sprint between her and the other girl at the finish," Engel noted.
In the girls' JV-3 class, Megan Lester returned to the top of the point standings despite a third-place finish on Sunday. She finished in 1:21:51, roughly 2:24 behind independent rider Josie Andre.
"I think she went out a little too hard in the beginning. She was up with the varsity girls for a while. She was really pushing," Engel said.
Muskego's Megan Seiler finished second and because the WHSCL has already factored out each rider's worst performance of the season - in Lester's case a ninth-place outing plagued by mechanical issues Sept. 29 at Nordic Mountain - Lester holds an 11-point lead over Seiler in the standings. That means Lester can lock up the JV-3 title with a runner-up finish at Trek.
Johanna Craig and Lester were the top scorers for the RNC team on Sunday. Jakob Craig, who Engel said was getting over an illness, finished ninth in the varsity boys' race and sits seventh in the overall point standings. Tyler Marquardt and Carter Johnson finished 23rd and 32nd, respectively, in the Division 2 JV boys' race.
Gwyn Lowry had the second best score, behind, Flory for the RHS contingent. She placed seventh in the JV-3 race and sits fifth in the overall standings. Jett Biolo and Layne Roeser were 15th and 21st, respectively in the Division 1 freshman boys' race, Anna Wood finished 19th in the JV-2 girls' race and Kyle Siefert was 39th in the Division 1 JV-2 boys' race.
In middle school competition, Macy Lester made it 4-for-4 in the seventh-grade girls' class. She rode to a 2-minute, 25-second win over Hayward's Morgan Hein on Sunday. Violet Biolo was the runner-up in the sixth-grade girls' class. Joey Belanger settled for fourth in a close four-way battle for the win in the eighth-grade boys' race after getting some dirt in his eye toward the finish, according to Engel. Helena Wisner was 27th in the seventh-grade girls' race.
It all sets the stage for the WHSCL season finale Oct. 27 on the proving grounds of the Trek Bicycle Corp. in Waterloo.
"It's a fun place to race and I'm definitely encouraging everyone come down there," Engel said. "I have a feeling our kids are going to be very excited for that race and they do a pretty good job of making it an event. It will be exciting finish to the season and I'm sure our kids will have good time."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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