By Karen Brainard
Ramona High School Cycle Dawg Jaron Cappos achieved a first place win at the California High School Mountain Bike State Championships, held in Monterey May 11, while teammate Gwendalyn Gibson earned a third-place finish.
Cappos won the state championship for the Division 2 sophomore boys bike competition with a drag race finish, said an excited coach Robert Grace.
“It was phenomenal,” he said.
Cappos beat the second-place finisher “by a wheel” after 15 miles and 2,200 feet of climbing, noted the coach. A total of 80 cyclists competed in that race. Cappos finished in 56:50.
“The top seven in that race were separated by less than 10 seconds,” said Grace.
The state championships were held at the Laguna Seca Raceway with 776 cyclists participating. The challenging course started with a steep half mile to a canyon loop where cyclists descended for 1 1/2 miles to the bottom of the course before two climbs totaling 700 feet took them to the finish line, according to the race description. The championships were hosted by the NorCal High School Cycling League; Ramona competes in the SoCal league during its regular season.
“It was cool,” Grace said of the location in Monterey. “Laguna Seca Raceway is just a beautiful facility.”
Gibson took third out of 41 competitors, finishing the freshman girls 10-mile race in 50:04.
“So our future’s pretty bright against the NorCal girls,” said Grace.
Senior Kyle Skeen, who competed in the varsity boys race, ran into chain trouble with his bike but managed an 18th-place finish out of 67 competitors.
The Cycle Dawgs were also represented in the Division 2 junior varsity boys race with Nick Stemper taking 70th place and Jaime Leyva 84th place among a field of 96.
In the Division 2 freshman boys race, Andrew Finley finished 28th, Hayden Ellsworth, 42nd, and Sean Duffy, 60th, out of 80 competitors.
Grace noted that his team was young this year but he was pleased with his cyclists’ results.
“I’m excited for next season,” he said. “Definitely looking for a couple more girls to add to the squad.”