The Moab Red Devil Mountain Biking team is now entering its sixth season competing in the Utah High School Cycling League. The team is coming off its best-ever season, which ended with a second-place overall team finish in Division 2 in 2016.
According to Moab head coach Melissa Nerone, Utah boasts the largest high school mountain biking league in the country with more than 2,000 athletes combined in the North and South divisions.
The season series includes five competition races. The season opener is Saturday, Sept. 16 at Powder Mountain in Eden, followed by a race on Sept. 30 at Snowbasin near Huntsville. The third race in the series will be on Oct. 14 at High Star Ranch in Kamas, after which Moab will host a race on Oct. 21 at the Moab Brand Trails north of town. The fifth and final event of the season will be the state championship races in Cedar City on Nov. 4.
This year’s Red Devil team is its largest ever, with 18 athletes on its roster.
“The team has been no bigger than 10 student athletes in prior years,” Nerone noted.
Returning athletes include senior Tyler Moreau, competing in varsity; junior Ridge Murdock and sophomores Griffin Shannon, Elijah Topper and Wyatt Gholson, all racing junior varsity; and sophomore Kenobi Clapper, competing in the sophomore division. In addition, returning junior Annie Kopell will race in the junior varsity girls division while newcomer Derek Hansen, a senior, will compete in boys JV.
Nerone said a sizable group of ninth-graders have joined this year’s team and will compete in the freshman category. They are Aidan Baird, Eli Taylor, Gail Leavitt, Jack Charlton, Jackson Sorenson, Jayden Stocks, Joey Lacy, Kyler Helquist, River Martucci and Rowan Murdock.
Nerone said the team started three-per-week workouts on July 1. The team recently held a summer retreat in the La Sal Mountains, camping at Warner Lake. Eleven athletes and four coaches/ride leaders attended the camp, riding the trails near the campground.
“Our upperclassmen logged some pretty big miles, riding between 20 and 25 miles on Saturday, which included some pretty big elevation gain on the way back to camp,” Nerone said.
“We are finishing up our early morning workouts on Aug, 15,” she added. “When school starts on Aug. 17, we will switch to late afternoon practices three times per week.”
Assisting Nerone this year with coaching and ride leader duties are Don Wiseman, Colin Topper, Evan Clapper, Scott Newton, Amrah Hubbard, Christa Green, Jeanette Kopell and Sylvi Fae. The team also relies on the generous financial support of numerous local business sponsors, Nerone said.