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BOULDER — Competitive athletics have at times garnered a reputation for being exclusive rather than inclusive. The club mountain biking team at Boulder High School, however, has no reason to be concerned about acquiring such a reputation.

The Panthers take all comers and welcome anyone who is interested in getting on a bike and riding it down a hill. As a result, the program has swelled to upward of 80 riders this past season. That makes the Panthers program the biggest in the state of Colorado.

What’s most impressive is that so far, this all-inclusive strategy has paid off in spades. They are, after all, the Colorado League Division I champions.

“Freshman year I actually placed 20th overall so I worked extra hard during this season and I raced over the summer,” said Isaac Nagel-Brice, who won the sophomore division title. “I was actually pretty surprised at how I did. But an individual rider cannot carry the team; it’s really all about the team. Our motto is, ‘Any rider, any speed.’ Basically, anyone who likes to ride and wants to join is welcome.”

Nagel-Brice took second in the first two of four total races and won the third. Since the championship is decided based on a four-race point total, Nagel-Brice had to win the state championship race in Eagle to beat the top sophomore rider from Golden High School’s team by one point, and he did.

Part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, the Panthers compete in the Colorado League, which was established in 2010 and has been won by Boulder High in four of the past five years. Fairview High finished runner-up to Boulder High last season.

The sport of mountain biking, which is not sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association, employs a co-ed scoring system that includes riders of both genders and all ages and talent levels in the scoring for a team championship. The Panthers, for example, won this year’s title with 10 podium placers at the state championship. That total included their top placers from the freshman, sophomore, junior varsity and varsity races on both the boys and girls side.

Of the 10 top scoring riders who factor into each team’s score at every race, at minimum two of the 10 have to be the opposite gender from the others.

“The most important thing about our team is that it’s run by a coach who’s also a science teacher, so he’s really busy. He dedicates tons of time to the team, and without him there wouldn’t be a team,” Nagel-Brice said. “It’s also all-inclusive. There aren’t a lot of clubs or teams that encourage people who aren’t experienced to come out. The Colorado League’s biggest thing is just to get people on bikes.”

It was 48-year-old biology teacher Ben Boyer who started the mountain biking program at Boulder High School. Modeling its league after the high school mountain biking league that started in California, Colorado is the first state to start a league outside of California and its league also includes a handful of teams from Wyoming.

The Colorado League includes 52 teams between Division I and Division II and the season begins runs from August through the last weekend in October. Nearby Lyons High School also has a high school mountain biking team.

The mountain biking team at Boulder High School does not receive funding from the school because it is not a CHSAA-sanctioned sport. In 2012, however, the school began giving the team’s members athletic letters the same as other varsity sports.

“It’s unique in that we welcome any rider of any ability,” Boyer said. “We have kids who have never ridden before and we have kids who are competing to be the best in the state and everything in between. It was fun to build a program from the ground up and it’s been fun to influence the culture on the team. It’s important to us to include everyone because everybody has a goal, whatever that may be. Sometimes, just getting to the starting line is the hardest part.”

Many colleges, including CU and Fort Lewis, have club teams. The riders at Boulder and Fairview are already drawing attention from the next level.

“We actually have college recruiters contacting us about kids on our team,” Boyer said.

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