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New Sierra Nevada High School Racing Series still growing after second race, the Granite Bay Epic

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Sunny spring-like weather greeted racers again in Granite Bay on Saturday. The West’s first dedicated USA Cycling mountain bike racing series for school-age kids, the Sierra Nevada High School Racing Series, increased its racer count, as 163 racers took to the incredibly fast trails of Granite Bay. “Kids are having fun and the word is getting out,” according to Mark Shaw, whose race promotion company, Total Body Fitness, put this event on for the Sierra Nevada High School Racing Series. Jason McMillen, Folsom team director and the organizer for the Sierra Nevada High School Racing Series, commented on the high turnout. “What’s really cool about this is that all these kids are local to the area. We had invited all the Nor Cal high school teams but not a single one of them showed up from out of the area. Our numbers say a lot about the future of the Sierra Series.” The racing was entertaining to watch with dramatic sprint finish in division after division especially in the JV and varsity girls’ race. Amanda Winne, Julie Barton and middle school sensation Avery Morin racing for Placer, Christa Baker of Nevada Union and Trojan Amber Pacheco took their race to the final few feet with Julie Barton of Placer edging Amanda Winne of Woodcreek for the win in JV while Avery Morin, joined the party too. Baker and Pacheco fought for their category win in the same pack with Baker claiming the top spot. True to the roots of mountain bike racing, all of the girls were smiling and congratulating each other after the elbow-to-elbow finish. Shayna Powless righted her world and fought off up-and-coming Maren Cosens for the varsity girls CAT 1 victory. The boys’ varsity CAT 1 was another dramatic finish as Jimmy Winne again held off a hard-charging Mason Bond to win by just a few feet. Folsom’s Sam Wamhoff rounded out the podium. Hunter Olivier, a JV CAT 2 and Woodcreek High freshman, surprised more than a few in attendance by challenging Varsity CAT 2 leader Steven Baldock of Nevada Union and nearly catching on to the CAT 1 group on his way to winning his division. Olivier spends most of his time on a road bike but couldn’t resist coming out to test his skills against the best mountain bikers in the area. A big reason behind the growth of the series is its junior racers. Sutter Middle School arrived on to the scene bringing eight racers and the Junior Trojans brought more than twenty racers. Mark Ferry, team director for the Trojan high school team as well as the Junior Trojans has assembled a group of 75 juniors that regularly work out two days a week. The group started from a few signs in El Dorado Hills and one e-mail blast to the 400 member Team Revolutions. Ferry had no idea how big it would be. “We expected 20 kids to show up for the first skills clinic and we ended up having 62,” said Ferry, who’s shocked by the high turnout. “The junior thing is going to be huge and then the high school programs will be even bigger”. On Feb. 19, the Sierra Series racers will take on their toughest task yet as the Granite Bay course reverses for the third race. Most of the rocky technical downhills will be uphill, adding a significant challenge.