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Powerhouse Boulder tallies another mountain biking title

The Panthers have won eight titles in 10 years

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    Boulder's Madigan Munro rides through the course during the state mountain biking championships held Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in Durango, Colo. ((Photo courtesy Darin Atchley)

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    Boulder's Luke Leavitt, center, maneuvers over a man-made obstacle that was part of the course at the state mountain biking championships held Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in Durango, Colo. (Photo courtesy Darin Atchley)

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    Boulder's Max Kreidl, center, takes aim at a level part of the racing course during the state mountain biking championships held Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in Durango, Colo. (Photo courtesy Darin Atchley)

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    Boulder's Michaela Thompson, center, rides among a pack of athletes at the state mountain biking championships held Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in Durango, Colo. (Photo courtesy Darin Atchley)

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    Cooper Lull, right, rides through the finish line at the state mountain biking championships held Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in Durango, Colo. (Photo courtesy Darin Atchley)

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A dominating high school reign like few others the state has witnessed in recent history, Boulder collected its eighth title in 10 years at the mountain bike championships over the weekend.

An astounding 82 riders qualified for the state title race in Durango this past Saturday and Sunday, and the Panthers were too much to hang with thanks to a team featuring some of the most talented junior riders in the world and overall program numbers that would require a few giant steps back for a team photo.

Maddie Munro, the top junior U.S. finisher in the cross-country Olympic event at the world championships in August, won the varsity girls race going away. Johnny Stanzione added critical points with a win in the sophomore boys’ race and Boulder claimed the Division-I crown with 7,351 points. Fairview — led by 2018 state champion Ada Urist’s third-place finish in varsity girls and Oliver Boyd’s fourth in varsity boys — was second at 6,807.

It was another huge success on the course for Boulder’s under-the-radar goliath. And yet another season gone right for Ben Boyer, the program architect and coach.

“Our ideal really is we want to get kids on bikes,” said Boyer, whose team has won state in all but two years since its inception in 2010 (2013, 2017). “We’ve been successful on the course, but we’re really just trying to use the bike as a tool to teach kids about themselves, being outdoors, having a healthy lifestyle — we want them to be lifelong cyclists.”

His message apparently resonates.

Not under the affiliation of CHSAA, the state’s high school mountain bike scene has flourished — and the Panthers have led the way.

In just 10 years, Boyer said his team has sustained continual growth. It started with 32 riders and just four girls on roster in 2010. And this fall, they were at 138 riders, 42 girls among them, and 32 coaches.

“I think we have a really well-rounded and balanced program,” Boyer said. “We have incredible coaches, have a good training plan, have a really welcoming team. We have a big team — and we get kids from all grade levels. We have a big female presence. It’s just a really well-rounded team.”

Munro led the way Sunday, dominating throughout the three-lap, roughly 19-mile varsity girls’ course to finish in 1 hour, 24 minutes and 59 seconds. Independent rider Sofia Forney finished second in 1:28:05 and Urist was third in 1:28:34.

Boulder's Madigan Munro rides through the ...
Courtesy photo
Boulder’s Madigan Munro rides through the course during the state mountain biking championships held Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 in Durango, Colo. (photo courtesy  Darin Atchley)

In 2018, Munro finished second to Urist by less than two-tenths of a second in the championship race. The two of them along with fellow local rider Riley Bjorn also took part in the world championships in Quebec a few months ago.

There, Munro finished sixth in the women’s junior cross-country Olympic event, while Urist was 35th. Bjorn took 25th in men’s junior XC.

“It’s been super fun, I just really had a great end to the season,” Munro said. “Worlds was my big goal this year. After that, I was just focused on having as much fun as I could and enjoying my last year on the team.”

Silver Creek finished 16th in the Division I team standings. Monarch was 10th in Division II and Centaurus was 21st. Longmont was 20th in Division III followed by Nederland in 22nd, Loveland in 27th and Prospect Ridge Academy in 28th.