Log In

Reset Password
Sports Youth Sports Professional Sports More Sports College Sports High School Sports

Durango bikers soar at MTB nationals

Anna Morozowich captures junior title; Thompson and Beard 2nd in U23
Anna Morozowich, left, and sister Leah Morozowich show off the medals they won this week at USA Cycling’s mountain bike national championships at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. Anna won the junior women's 11-12 cross-country national title. (Courtesy of Steven Morozowich)

The top mountain bikers from the United States converged at Bear Creek Mountain in Pennsylvania this week for the 2023 USA Cycling cross-country national championships.

A technical, rocky course greeted the riders, but lots of Durango cyclists excelled on it to reach the podium with top-five finishes.

“The course is the most technical nats course, probably since we raced here last in 2013,” said Team Durango Segment 28 team director Keiran Eagen. “It’s like riding some of the toughest trails in Durango in 90-degree heat and a 100% humidity.”

Durango Segment 28 cyclists and other Durangoans, however, were dominant forces in the U23 cross-country championships on Saturday, with six Durango cyclists finishing in the top eight and four getting to stand on the national podium.

In the women’s U23 race, Michaela Thompson (Team Durango Segment 28) finished as the national runner-up, crossing 59 seconds after world cup rider Madigen Munro (Trek Factory Racing XC) in 1 hour, 31 minutes and 57 seconds.

“Michaela fought really hard to get a second-place finish; she rode a perfect race,” Eagen said.

Lauren Aggeler (Trinity Racing) also reached the podium with a fifth-place finish after completing three laps, instead of four, in 1:13:56. Bailey Cioppa (Bear National Team), who has also been competing in the U23 world cup with Munro and Aggeler, finished just off the podium in seventh place (1:14:14).

In the men’s U23 race, Durango Segment 28 had three riders place in the top eight, with Carson Beard finishing as the national runner-up to lead the team. Beard finished second to Brayden Johnson of Bear National Team in a battle of world cup racers, with Johnson winning by 41 seconds in 1:13:54.

Dane Grey, meanwhile, erased a minute on the fourth and final lap on Carson Hampton (Bear National Team) to set up a sprint to the finish for third. Hampton, however, won the sprint to finish just one second ahead of Grey (1:16:36), who had to settle for fourth. Ivan Sippy finished eighth in 1:19:21 while Toby Hassett (WE Development) placed 10th (1:20:13) and Cobe Freeburn (Bear National Team) finished 12th (1:21:31).

“It’s good to see a proper course,” Eagen said. “Our riders have exceeded expectations.”

The junior racers got the competition rolling on Wednesday.

The Morozowich family had four podium finishes, with Anna leading the charge and winning her second consecutive national title. Anna successfully defended the national championships she won last year at Winter Park by capturing the women’s junior 11-12 national championship race on Friday. She finished six seconds ahead of her closest competitor, posting a winning time of 33 minutes and 28 seconds.

Older sister Leah Morozowich had a pair of podium finishes for Durango Devo. In the women’s junior 13-14 short-track race, Leah finished fifth. Anna was also on the start list, but didn’t race. Leah then placed third in the 13-14 cross-country championship on Friday, finishing just 1:28 after Aida Linton (Team Stampede) in 44:07.

Owen Morozowich finished fourth in the non-championship 9-10 boys race on Wednesday.

Lots of other Durango cyclists are also competing for a stars-and-stripes jersey.

Competing in the junior men’s 17-18 second qualifier on Friday, Kai Lokey of Team Durango Segment 28 placed 12th in 42:47. His Segment 28 teammates Max Johnson finished 26th in 45:15, Liam Bezek placed 27th in 45:16 and Emmett McManus placed 42nd out of 80 competitors in 46:49 so all four advanced to the finals.

In Saturday’s final, the competitors raced three laps instead of two, and Lokey led the group again. Lokey finished 16th in 1:03:03 while Bezek finished 33rd (1:06:39), McManus placed 49th (1:07:54) and Johnson placed 53rd out of 119 competitors (1:08:20)

Jake Sandau finished 13th out of 84 bikers and Eli Young 27th in the second qualifying heat of the junior men’s 15-16 division on Thursday.

In the finals on Friday, Young finished 44th in the nation (1:00:55) and Sandau placed 52nd (1:02:24).

The elite cross-country races were scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Christopher Blevins (Specialized Factory Racing), Riley Amos (Trek Factory Racing, Eagen and Savilia Blunk (Ford Rockrider Racing) were all scheduled to compete. Blunk is the defending elite women’s cross-country national champion and Blevins is the defending elite men’s short-track champ.

“It’s been an honor to wear these stars and stripes for the last year,” Blunk said on Friday. “Tomorrow we get to fight for it again. I’m excited to do it on a proper MTB track and give it everything to defend this jersey.”

The short-track cross-country championships, meanwhile, are scheduled for Sunday.