Wood River High School’s mountain bike team in 2019 will once again field one of the biggest and most dominant squads on the Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League (IICL) championship series.
The IICL series, conducted under the auspices of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), opens its seven-week competitive season Saturday, Aug. 24 at Brundage Mountain, McCall.
Wood River is the three-time IICL defending champion. Last October, the Hailey-based team of 30 high school racers completed a sweep of the five-event Division 1 fall series of races.
The Hailey riders captured the “Bogus Boss” state championships at Bogus Basin near Boise by a huge 383-point margin over the second-place Boise Braves bike team.
At “Bogus Boss,” Wood River was truly the boss with 4,651 points compared to 4,269 for Boise Braves and 4,255 for third-place Highland High School/Pocatello Pioneers.
The outcome gave Wood River the five-event season title with 21,851 points, which was 2,212 points more than Boise Braves (19,639) and 2,283 more than third-place HHS/Pocatello (19,568).
Wood River entered 58 bikers for the state races. The high school team crowned three season state champs.
They were Anja Jensen wire-to-wire in Female Varsity, Garrett Payer in Male Junior Varsity and Blake DeHart in Male Freshman.
Wood River is scheduled to compete in four of the five IICL events as part of the round-robin format. The Brundage race this Saturday is an all-comers meet.
Other Saturday races for Wood River are Sept. 7 at Grand Targhee, Sept. 14 at Galena Lodge north of Ketchum, and Sept. 21 at Magic Mountain south of Twin Falls. State racing occurs Saturday, Oct. 12 at Bogus Basin.
Coach Joel Zellers, in a preseason outlook, said, “This is the fifth year of NICA in Idaho and the same for the Wood River mountain bike team.
“Our team grew this year to a total of 90 riders between middle and high school. Our team’s success is based on our all-volunteer coaching staff of 42 and local sponsors allowing us to be as strong as we are.
“We graduated many varsity riders last year and are rebuilding our team. Many teams in the league have transitioned to Division 1 including Teton, Sage and Jackson Hole.
“Since the inaugural season we have won three state championships. This year we have a strong boys’ varsity showing with Zane Lyon, Blake DeHart, Sebi Radl-Jones and Elias Svennungsen with Anja Jensen rounding it off.
“In Junior Varsity 1, we have Wylie Zellers, Hayden Wilson and Griff Connelly all riding strong.
“New freshmen this year will make a difference in the field with Paige DeHart, Aisely Grohusky, Galen Grohusky, Lucas Savage, Parker Boyd, Rabbit Buxton, Mosi Slotten, Brock Burrell, Dane Malko, Holden Archie and Zander Douglas.
“Returning girls in Junior Varsity are strong with Ashly Eggers, Camas Filbert, Paige DeHart and Malia Foley.”