Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Wood River Mountain Bike Team Three-Peats!
The Wood River Mountain Bike team has won three straight State Championships.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018



Wood River High School’s Mountain Bike Team repeated as State Champions for the third year in a row last week at the 2018 State Championship race at Bogus Basin.

Conditions weren’t ideal. Temperatures were freezing and the race course was partially covered with snow. But the riders warmed up quickly on a mile-long 740-foot climb out of the start.

Anja Jensen pedals her way to first.

Boise High School placed second in the Idaho Interscholastic Cycling Association League contest, and Highland/Pocatello took third.

Taking first is nothing new for the Wood River Mountain Bike Team. They took first in all five races they competed in over the past few months.

And Anja Jensen and Garrett Payer wound up state champions in their fields.

 Sisters Anja and Kaia Jensen competed against 50 other races in 32-degree temperatures in the girl’s race. They pinned the first half mile with two riders from Twin Falls on their wheels. Then Anja pulled ahead by 30 seconds after the first lap and maintained her lead to take gold and be crowned 2018 Varsity Champion.

Coach Joel Zeller celebrates victory with Anja Jensen and Luke Dean.

 Kaia ended up sprinting for third place, and ended up in fourth place, just .2 seconds behind a cyclist from Twin Falls. Lilly Brunnelle placed sixth and Makena Gove, eighth.

Geneeva Dupuis won sixth in the Junior Varsity Race, taking fifth place overall. Luci Ludwig took second in the freshman race, and Malia Foley took seventh in the freshman race.

By the time the varsity  boys raced, the frozen ground had turned to grease, and carnage was the theme, according to coach Joel Zellers, who teaches special education and Wood River High School.

Luke Dean, who has been in the program for all of its four years, set the pace during the first part of the varsity race, which boasted 2,800 feet of climbing and descending. And he held on for fifth place. Aiden Payer took eighth.

Luke Dean savors his medal following a tough mountain bike race.

Blake DeHart took second in the freshman race and Giff Connelly took eighth in the sophomore race.

Garrett Payer took first in the JV race and Zane Lyon took second. Curtis Larsen took 10th in the JV race, while first-year racer Elias Svennungsen finished 12th, which gave him 7th place in the series.

Luke Dean joined the team as a freshman to improve his biking skills.

"But it's proved to be so much more than that," he added. "I've made countless new friends and developed a true passion for the sport."

Derek Svennungsen, who has been following the kids’ efforts all year, said watching the kids speed through the woods on challenging trails lap after lap is “pretty inspiring.”

“Not to mention the dedication of all 45 coaches, as they fix bikes, mend egos and discuss strategies all day long with the riders,” he added. “Really, I have never had an experience like it--we all camp together, cheer everyone on for 10 hours every weekend, and then get to hear the emcee call out ‘And in first place, Wood River!’ over and over. It's the best!”


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