Local riders impress in season-opening event at Fort Ord

Submitted photos – Hailey Kroeker in action at Fort Ord over the weekend.

Hailey Kroeker and Maggie Odell led the way over the weekend as the Humboldt Composite Mountain Bike Team (HCMTB) returned to action.

The local riders were among 530 competitors from 30 Northern California teams who traveled to the Fort Ord Recreation Area in the Monterey area to compete in the first of five NorCal league events of the spring.

Kroeker placed ninth in the girls varsity race, followed by Odell in 11th.

After the weather played havoc with the early-season schedule and forced the postponement of three events, including the first-ever NorCal league race slated to take place here in Humboldt, the season finally got under way with 11 local riders representing three local high schools and Jacoby Creek making the trip to compete.

Among the most impressive local performances of the day, Arcata High’s Dinon McIntosh placed eighth out of 58 riders in the freshmen boys race.

McIntosh was competing for the first time and had to start at the beck of the field because of that, but he battled through the field, passing 50 riders in the race.

Eureka High’s Evelyn Seemann and Itsuki Kitayama were also competing for the first time and enjoyed impressive debuts with the team.

Seemann finished 16th out of 23 riders in the freshmen girls race, while Kitayama, an exchange student from Japan, placed 37th in the JV boys race.

Kitayama was one of four HCMTB riders in the JV boys event, with McKinleyville’s Kai Lamb leading the local contingent and placing 31st out of 75 riders.

Aaron Shapiro placed 42nd in the same race, with Nico Costanzo out of Eureka High finishing 48th.

In JV girls action, Arcata High’s Sierra Paliaga placed 32nd out of 49 riders, with teammate Sasha Love, also out of Arcata High, finishing 39th.

The HCMTB JV boys, from left to right, Itsuki Kitayama, Nico Costanzo, Kai Lamb and Aaron Shapiro

Rounding out an impressive showing for the local riders, Jacoby Creek’s Melia Paliaga placed fourth for a podium position in the seventh-grade girls race.

This year, two members of the team — Costanzo and Sierra Paliaga — are also making their presence felt off the trails.

The two HCMTB team members are filling north state leadership positions after being accepted into the California Mountain Bike Coalition’s (CAMTB) Teen Ambassador program.  

As part of this program they will work alongside the CAMTB advocacy team, trail partners and industry representatives in pursuit of more and better bike-friendly trails in California.

Sierra Paliaga has also spent the past two years working as a NorCal Girls Riding Together (GRiT) ambassador for the Redwood Region.  

Kai Lamb led four local riders in the JV boys race.

This program is designed to promote role models for females in cycling and to organize and support GRiT events.  

The Arcata High student athlete has organized and led female group rides in Humboldt County and organized educational bike awareness activities.

The HCMTB riders will travel to Granite Bay on Folsom Lake for their second race of the NorCal season this weekend.

Maggie Odell placed 11th in the girls varsity race.

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