STEILACOOM — The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance Washington Student League held its first high school mountain bike race on Sunday, April 7, in Fort Steilacoom Park and 12 teams of middle and high school students from across the state competed, including those from Arlington and Lakewood.
The Arlington Composite team and the Lakewood High School team sent nine racers to the event, and the Arlington Middle School mountain bikers sent two to compete in the state’s first-ever middle school race.
“The riders did well, and out of the 11 racing for our area teams, four podiumed,” said coach Heidi Klippert. Students raced around Waughop Lake, with each lap being nearly five miles with approximately 350 feet of elevation gain per lap. “Unfortunately the traditionally lush ‘swoopy’ Steilacoom single track trails turned soupy as the racers competed in extremely muddy and cold conditions.”
The race included a first place finish by Elle Lee, a Stillaguamish Valley sophomore racing on the Arlington team. She won a medal and took home the Leader’s jacket to wear at the next race.
“We were really excited that Elle got first. She is very focused. She felt really good after the race. She knew she had it in her and she wasn’t burnt out,” said Klippert. “She is very focused and has been working very hard on her technique, and it all came together. “
“The hill climb was like pedaling uphill through four to six inches of mud in a stream bed,” said Matt Roebke, a junior at Lakewood. Roebke placed sixth in the beginner boys’ category in his first bike race ever. Other boys competing in the beginner category included first-time racers Glen Gamboa, a sophomore at Arlington, and Charles Davis, a sophomore at Lakewood. Gamboa finished seventh, but Davis was unable to complete the race due to bike mechanical issues.
Racing for intermediate boys were Gavin Sitter, a sophomore on the Lakewood team, and Sam Oakes, a Burlington Edison sophomore on the Arlington Composite team. Out of 27 racers in the biggest category of the day, Oakes placed 10th and Sitter made it to the podium with a fourth-place finish, completing two laps in under 57 minutes. The Arlington team’s one junior varsity boy racer, Chris Nelson, was unable to complete the race due to mechanical issues on his bike as well.
In girls’ racing action, the teams had two girls competing in the beginner category. Dana Arenz, a junior at Lakewood, placed fifth in her first ever mountain bike race, in spite of losing her rear brakes during the first lap. Kayla Lampert made it to the podium for the Arlington team with a third-place finish.
“The middle schoolers from Arlington raced strong as well, with eighth grader Tagan Walker placing ninth and seventh grader Hallie Williams earning her spot on the podium with a third-place finish,” said Klippert. “Having Hallie take third in the middle school race was awesome, because we are seeing such great potential.”
Riders and coaches are looking forward to several upcoming events, including a Trail Work day, a movie screening fundraiser with the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon of ‘Where the Trail Ends’ on May 3, and, of course, their next race — the Battle of the Bases, April 28, in Olympia at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said Klippert.
“Not only are the students learning the sport of mountain biking and getting out in nature, they are also learning how to be advocates of the trail,” said Klippert. “We are just trying to grow the sport and also the awareness of sustainability out on trails.”
For more information, contact Klippert at firstname.lastname@example.org.