Humboldt High School Compostite Mountain Bike Club’s Ethan Hunt cruises down the circuts at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca during the annual Sea Otter Classic, in Monterety. (Contributed)
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A handful of the most adept high school mountain bikers on the North Coast — and a few of their coaches — traveled to Monterey to compete in one of the world’s largest cycling festivals, the Sea Otter Classic, and returned home with more than just good memories.

Elizabeth Odell, one of four Humboldt Composite High School Mountain Bike Club riders who made the trip to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the yearly event which draws more than 10,000 riders from around the globe, took 1st-place in her section (Category 2, women 15-18) in the Cross Country event on Sunday.

Sean Robertson, the club’s head coach, couldn’t say much more about Odell’s performance other than, “It’s just truly incredible, to go out and win an event against the nation’s top riders at your level.”

Odell beat out 28 other riders to claim the top spot on the podium, finishing her run in 01:31:04 — 12 seconds faster than second-place Neva Titus, a fellow Norcal League rider.

The 16-year-old wasn’t the only local rider who placed well over the weekend.

Meigan Butler took 5th place out of 22 riders in her section (Category 1, women 17-18) in the Cross Country event while Tommy Robinson picked up a 10th-place finish in the Enduro event men’s 17-18 section and a 26th-place finish in his section (Category 1, men 17-18) in the Cross Country event. Rounding out the group of four local riders was Ethan Hunt, who rode in the Category 2, men 17-18 section. Hunt placed 21st in the Cross County event and 37th in the Downhill race.

The team’s coaches also got in on the action over the weekend. Robertson himself, along with Odell’s father Errin Odell, took part in the Cross Country event and placed 6th and 4th, respectively, in the Category 3 men 45-49 section.

Robertson said the experience his four top riders enjoyed over the weekend will undoubtedly give them a boost of confidence going forward as the team looks to hold on to its spot atop the NorCal League Division 2 Composite division. The full team returns to action on April 27 when it heads to Lower Lake to take part in the Six Sigma Slinger, the fourth of six regular season events.

“I think the biggest thing is that (the riders) will come back with a huge amount of confidence from racing against such a deep pool of riders,” Robertson said. “They’ll race with more speed. … It’s a next-level experience for them. We went last year with three riders, mainly just to have a little fun. This year we leave with four riders who are now top-20 in the country.”

 

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