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Santa Cruz’s Jacob Albrecht, who races as an independent rider, won the boys varsity race in the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League’s second South Conference event of the season at Fort Ord near Monterey over the weekend.

Albrecht, the defending NorCal champion completed five laps on the five-mile course in 1 hour, 23 minutes, 14 seconds, according to preliminary results posted on the league’s website. He was followed by fellow Santa Cruzan Chance Tiner [Independent], who finished in 1:25:27. Felton’s Tom Foxx also placed in the top five of the varsity race, taking fourth in 1:26:21, the same time as third-place finisher Alex Chamberlin [Monte Vista High School].

Other winners from Santa Cruz County were as follows: Kyle Petersen [Kirby Santa Cruz], who went 15 miles in 1:10:46 in the sophomore boys race for Division 2; Maddie Ortenblad [Independent], who went 15 miles in 1:23:48 in the JV girls race; Steffen Andersen [Santa Cruz COMP], who went 20 miles in 1:08:22 in the boys JV race for Division 2; and Emily Forsberg [Santa Cruz COMP], who went 10 miles in 1:00:37 in the girls frosh race.

All results in this report are from the league’s website, which only had preliminary results at the time of publication. No team results were available.

Two junior racers from Santa Cruz County earned silver, and a handful of other mountain bikers secured top-10 finishes, at the 2012 USA Cycling MTB Cross Country Nationals in Sun Valley, Idaho, on June 5-8.

On the opening day of racing Thursday, Capitola’s Steffen Andersen finished runner-up in the junior men’s Cat 3 15-18 age division, crossing the finish line of the cross country race in 1:51:03. Daniel Riley of Park City, Utah, won in 1:46:16.

And on the closing day Sunday, Santa Cruz’s Tobin Ortenblad [Ritte Elite U23 Development Team] finished runner-up to another Park City product, Keegan Swenson, in short track cross country action. Ortenblad crossed the finish line of the junior men’s Cat 1 15-18 age division race in 31:42.7, and Swenson clocked in at 31:19.4.

Ortenblad also earned a sixth-place finish in Sunday’s junior men’s 18-and-under Super-D for what was his second top-10 finish at nationals following a DNF on Friday. He had a time of 23:06.6. Swenson also won that race, crossing the finish line in 21:57.1.

Ortenblad wasn’t the only Santa Cruz County product to secure two top-10 finishes. Soquel’s Jacob Albrecht [Whole Athlete] also managed the feat with two sixth-place finishes. One was in the junior men’s Cat 1 15-18 age division race, and the other was in the junior men’s Cat 1 17-18 age division race Friday, where he finished in 1:20:56. Swenson [Cannondale Factory Racing] again won, taking that race in 1:17:08.

Several other county racer earned top-10 finishes. They were as follows:

  • Santa Cruz’s Loren Gregg placed seventh in the women’s under-23 cross country race[1:44:05]. Fairfax’s Lauren Catlin [Durango Devo] won in 1:32:48.
  • Capitola’s Richard Latorraca [unattached] placed 10th in the master men’s 60-64 cross country race, which was won by Montana Velo’s Randy Beckner of Helena, Mont., in 1:52:50.
  • Aptos’ Ron Riley [Bike Station Aptos] placed seventh in the master men’s 77-and-over cross country race [3:12:40]. Sun Valley’s Hans Muehlegger [Durance-Colnago] won in 2:10:39.

Results included in this report are from

— Christina Gullickson, on Twitter @CGullTweets

Area riders Tom Foxx, Steffen Andersen, Maddie Ortenblad also win divisions

After a season of battling for first, it came down to a sprint to the finish line.

Santa Cruz’s Jacob Albrecht went into the NorCal High School Mountain Biking League’s championship fighting to narrow an 18-point gap between himself and season standings leader Bryan Duke of Salinas. Oddly enough, the way the new league champ accomplished that feat involved some teamwork with Duke.

“On the last lap, me and Bryan Duke pulled away on the last climb, and we worked a little together on the flats just to pull away from everyone,” Albrecht, a Santa Cruz Composite rider, said of the boys varsity race that took place Sunday at Stafford Lake County Park in Novato.

Then came the sprint to the finish.  After completing five laps for about total 26.5 miles, Albrecht had recorded a time of 1 hour, 41 minutes, 51 seconds — a win by just two seconds to become the first-ever league champ out of Santa Cruz.

“I wasn’t feeling too great at the start, but I felt better and better throughout the race,” Albrecht said. “And I tried to push it on the climbs.”

Pushing it paid off in a big way. With his win, came a boost of 550 points and that was enough to slide him past defending champion Duke [1:41:53] in the standings, which are based on points from the best four of five races. Both Albrecht and Duke were also awarded 25 bonus points, which are given to riders who participate in all the season’s events.

Marin’s Taylor Smith placed third overall [2,152] and Santa Cruz independent rider Tobin Ortenblad, the defending state champion who won at Mike’s Bike Cat’s Classic on Saturday, placed fifth [2,067]. Neither Smith nor Ortenblad participated in all five competitions, so their points included only those from the four races they did ride in — with no throwaway score.

In non-varsity races, area winners Sunday were Tom Foxx [Santa Cruz Composite] in the sophomore boys Division 2 race [1:08:26], Steffen Andersen [Aptos High] in the frosh boys Division 2 race [47:38]. Both won their division titles, as did Maddie Ortenblad in the frosh girls division.

Foxx and Andersen each lost only one race this season, both finishing with 2,025 points. Maddie Ortenblad won one race and never placed worse than fourth, finishing with 1,966 points.

Santa Cruz Composite placed ninth in the team standings [7,915 points] for Division 2. The Spartans High School Mountain Bike Composite won the division with 10,148 points, and Sir Francis Drake High School won Division 1 [19,224].

As for other Santa Cruz County-based teams, the newly formed Santa Cruz Mountains Composite placed 14th [6,862] and Aptos High School placed 15th [6,194] in Division 2, and Georgiana Bruce Kirby Prep placed 12th in Division 1 [15,011].

Although the NorCal season has come to a close, the state championship is fast approaching. It’s scheduled for Los Olivos on May 20. Riders must qualify to participate. For more information, please see the NorCal league’s website.

— Christina Gullickson, on Twitter @CGullTweets

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post did not make clear that both Albrecht and Duke received the 25-point bonus for competing in all NorCal races this season. This version has been updated to reflect that they did. Also, it has now been noted that Smith and Ortenblad had no throwaway scores.

Marin Catholic’s Taylor Smith captures the win

Santa Cruz High student and Santa Cruz Composite rider Jacob Albrecht followed up his first NorCal High School Mountain Bike League win of the season with a second-place finish in the Boggs Mountain Classic on Sunday.

Marin Catholic’s Taylor Smith won the 24.8-mile boys varsity race in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 14 seconds, according to results on the NorCal website. Albrecht followed a mere three seconds later. Salinas’ Bryan Duke, the overall standings leader, placed third in 1:46:41.

Duke now has 2,162 points in the standings, Albrecht has 2,144, and independent rider Brandon Dillard is in third with 1,938.

The sole other Santa Cruz County rider at the varsity level, Tobin Ortenblad — the defending state champ — placed eighth after getting held up by a crash near the start and suffering a penalty. He finished in 1:56:58.

In the standings, Ortenblad is ranked 18th with 1,553 points.

The 18.6-mile girls varsity race was won by the Branson Bulls’ Kate Courtney, who crossed the finish line in 1:34:50.

Santa Cruz County did have two winners Sunday, though. They were Aptos High’s Steffen Andersen, who dominated the boys frosh race in 1:04:06, and the SCC’s Tom Foxx, who won the soph boys race in 1:33:02 with almost a full-minute lead over the next closest competitor. The distance in the frosh race was 12.4 miles and the distance in the soph race was 18.6 miles.

The next NorCal High School Mountain Bike League event is the NorCal Championships, which are scheduled for May 6.

— Christina Gullickson, on Twitter @CGullTweets

Santa Cruz High student and Santa Cruz Composite rider Jacob Albrecht pulled away from the boys varsity pack on the final climb of the Laguna Seca Grand Prix, dubbed “Hurl Hill,” and held on for the win on Sunday.

The race, at the Laguna Seca Recreational Area in Monterey, was the third NorCal High School Mountain Biking League event and the one with the toughest hills this season.

Albrecht finished the approximately 25-mile trek in 1 hour, 32 minutes, 57 seconds. He was followed by Marin Catholic’s Tyler Smith [1:33:04, second] and Salinas’ Bryan Duke [1:33:14, third].

Independent rider and Pacific Collegiate School student Tobin Ortenblad, the defending state high school mountain biking champion, placed fourth [1:33:23], and the Branson Bulls’ Eliel Anttila rounded out the top five [1:36:02].

Albrecht’s victory boosted his points in the standings; although, he’s still in second behind Duke, who won the first two races of the season. The margin between them narrowed, with Albrecht having 1,604 points to Duke’s 1,631.

Albrecht wasn’t the only mountain biker from Santa Cruz County to bring home a win. Tom Fox [SCC] won the sophomore boys’ 15-mile Division 2 race and Aptos High’s Steffen Andersen won the frosh boys’ 10-mile Division 2 race.

Fox’s win came with a decent lead over runner-up and teammate Chance Tiner. He crossed the finish line in 1:02:15 to Tiner’s 1:03:10. Andersen, though, eked his out, edging Santa Cruz Mountains Composite rider Joe Van Pykeren by two seconds, 41:04-41:06.

The girls varsity race was won by Josie Nordrum of Redwood High [1:24:15]. She leads the girls standings with 1,621 points.

In the team standings, Redwood High is leading in Division 1 with 11,533 points. The Georgiana Bruce Kirby team is the sole Santa Cruz County squad in Division 1 and is currently in 12th place out of 14 teams with 8,744 points. In Division 2, the Spartans High School Mountain Bike Composite leads with 6,071 points and the top Santa Cruz County squad is the SCC, in eighth of 32 teams with 4,532 points.

The next NCHSMBL event is scheduled for April 15 at the Boggs Mountain Demonstration Forest in Cobb.

— Christina Gullickson, on Twitter at CGullTweets

Handful of SC County riders capture wins in non-varsity races

Santa Cruz’s Tobin Ortenblad, the defending state high school mountain biking champion, placed second in his return to the NorCal High School Mountain Biking League after sitting out the first race to rest up from the cyclocross season, in which he represented the United States at worlds in Belgium.

The independent rider who attends Pacific Collegiate School finished the Central Coast Classic boys varsity race in 1 hour, 35 minutes, 5 seconds in what was a race to the finish line in Monterey on Sunday.

Bryan Duke, who won the NorCal opener last month, crossed the finish line in 1:35:02 to secure another victory for Salinas.

Third-place finisher Taylor Smith of Marin Catholic finished in 1:35:06, Tamalpais High’s Skyler Taylor was fourth in 1:35:32, and Santa Cruz Cycling Composite’s Jacob Albrecht rounded out the top five in 1:36:57.

In non-varsity races, a handful of Santa Cruz County riders, including Maddie Ortenblad — Tobin Ortenblad’s younger sister — Chance Tiner and Steffen Andersen also found success.

Tiner [Santa Cruz Cycling Composite] won the Division 2 sophomore boys race in 1:03:33 with a two-second lead over teammate Tom Foxx.

Andersen, of Aptos High, won the Division 2 frosh boys race in 43:59 for a seven-second lead over the next closest competitor.

Maddie Ortenblad, who rides as an independent, won the girls frosh race in 50:28 with a 25-second lead over the next closest competitor.

The next NorCal HSMBL race is the Laguna Seca Grand Prix in Monterey, scheduled for April 1 (no joke).

Results included in this report came from the NorCal HSMBL website. Early results are always preliminary. If you see what you think is a mistake, the league encourages you to contact pgoes-at-speakeasy-dot-net.

Neither team results nor standings were available as of the morning of March 21 but will likely be posted in the NorCal HSMBL results area in the coming days.

— Christina Gullickson, on Twitter at CGullTweets

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