The 2” of rain on Friday, did not dampen the spirits of the 70+ kids who came out and raced their bikes at Team Bulldog’s 3rd Annual High School and Middle School Championships and Kids’ Race on Saturday, May 10, 2008. The rain broke overnight and the racers and promoters were greeted with overcast skies and a course that was in great condition. The varied terrain of Kittatinny Valley State Park in Andover New Jersey allowed us to create five different courses.

The event kicked off with the Middle School B-Men and Open Women heading out onto the 1 mile course for 25 minutes of racing. Nicolas Conklin from Hardyston lapped the field to take home the top honors. Dylan Oliva and Billy Liamero from Florence and Jefferson Township, respectively, rounded out the podium for the opening event. The competition was much tighter in the Middle School Open Women’s race, but ultimately Veronica Caster from Lounsberry would pull off her 7 laps the fastest. Second place was taken by Erin Stickle from the Imaculate School in cheese, and Jessica Kruse from Black River Middle School earned the bronze. Both Veronica and Erin race for Black Bear Cycling, and Jessica rides for Cycle Craft. Incidentally, all three young ladies would have scored in the top 3 for the men! 

Next to starting grid were the Middle School A-Men who would do their battle over a longer and more technical course. Defending champion Dillon VanWart from Maple Road School was challenged this year by Trevor Kahl (Macopin Middle School) and Peter Spinks (St. Joseph Regional). After the 30 minutes of intense competition, the three top riders would finish within 1:40 of each other and it was Kahl, followed by Spinks with Vanwart in third. 

Onto the “big” kids… The High School B-Men would be treated with yet another course, this one adding some more elevation gain which would of course add some fun downhills. These young racers would face challenging terrain over 35 minutes to see who would reign victoriously. Tim Bumpus (West Morris Central) was able to complete 5 laps for a solid third place performance in the biggest class of the day. Tommy Wachtler (Lakeland Regional) was able to sneak in for 6 laps and the silver medal. And it was Steven Tuedt (Hunterdon Central), riding for Colavita in his first mountain bike race ever who would be crowned High School B-Men Champion. Steven is an avid road racer and used his fitness to pull away on the hills and ride smart through the tight singletrack. 

Finally, our premier event, the High School A-Men and Open Women would roll out for 45 minutes of racing over our longest and most technical course of the day. Our female High School field was rather light, and it was defending champion Mikaela Koch from Kittatinny Regional High School who would be crowned the two-time champion. Mikaela would have finished fourth in the Men’s A Race. We saw a repeat performance in the Men’s A field as well, as the 2006 High School Champion Erik Kristiansen (High Point Regional) received the cup yet again. He took off from the start (on his dad’s bike as his suffered a mechanical as he was warming up) and never looked back. Over the first four of six laps his lead continued to build until he settled in and rode steady to victory. Erik races for Black Bear Cycling and is one of the top junior mountain bike racers in the region. Second place was awarded to James McCabe (Bridgewater) who rides for Colavita who put a similar gap on the third place rider. Daniel Kelly (Vernon Township) was that third place rider who competed in the B Category last year and did a great job getting on the podium this year in the A’s. 

Upon completion of the High School Race, the “real” premier event began with the elementary school children, from Kindergarten up to fifth grade. These youngsters were on a course especially designed for them. They rode their tiny little bikes, one even with training wheels (not recommended, but he did it!) over the grass, dirt, three rocks, roots, and gravel with the skill of a veteran racer. The cheers from the parents could be heard echoing off the hills of Kittatinny Valley State Park. It was truly a sight to behold. 

Team Bulldog/Campmor would like to thank our title sponsor, Campmor, for their continued support and great swag for the race. Additioanlly, we would like to thank the folks at Kittatinny Valley State Park for providing us with a great venue for this awesome event.

This was such a wonderful event and Team Bulldog/Campmor is looking forward to holding it again next year.  Help to do your part to get more kids involved in the great sport of mountain biking!  For more information and a complete list of results, visit: www.teambulldog.com. 
Submitted by Brian Lariviere, Team Bulldog President/Manager