Alta Alpina youth deliver at league championships |

Alta Alpina youth deliver at league championships

Amy Roby
Varsity rider Justin Kinzer.
Kim Bodestein/Special To The R-C

The Alta Alpina junior/senior high school composite team competed in the NevadCa Mountain Bike championships held at the Tahoe Donner Alder Creek Adventure Center in Truckee on Oct. 14.

The race was the culmination of the Nevada Interscholastic Cycling League (NICL) fall series and featured individual and team awards for both high school and composite teams. Alta Alpina placed 4th out of 13 competitors at the NevadCa race and earned an impressive 3rd place podium finish for the fall MTB race series overall.

The challenging, cross-country course at Tahoe Donner presented 4.1 miles of variegated terrain and approximately 500 feet of climbing per loop. Depending upon the race category, competitors pedaled between 4.1 to over 20 miles.

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) is the organizing body for the ever-expanding number of state MTB leagues. In accordance with NICA rules, riders are scored on a point-based system, with awards going to the top 3-5 contenders based upon the number of participants in a particular race. Races are divided into six categories each for males and females:

Middle school (6-8th grade)

Middle school advanced (6-8th)

High school freshman

High school sophomore

High school junior varsity (JV)

High school varsity

Boys and girls compete and are awarded separately, although team scores are determined through the four highest male and female points combined. The point totals of Alta Alpina riders Jack Bray, Rhys Davies, Audry Keasling, and Justin Kinser earned the team a 4th place overall finish in the NevadCa championships. The team’s collective point effort throughout the season was awarded with a 3rd place overall podium finish at season’s end.

Individual riders from team Alta Alpina brought solid, strong riding to the NevadCa championship event:

Middle School Girls First Place awarded to Sawyer Villanueva

Middle School Boys First place awarded to Joshua Bodenstein and Fifth Place to Simon Maalouf

Middle School Boys Advanced First Place awarded to Matteus Sokulsky and Third Place to Lachlan Bray

Sophomore Boys First Place awarded to Jack Bray

JV Girls Second Place awarded to Audry Keasling

Doug Bedient is the executive director of NICL and the Northern Conference League Director. He got involved with NICA mountain bike racing when his oldest son expressed interest in the sport. That introduction led to several years of coaching the Incline Village High School MTB team and eventually, a successful 2014 bid to bring NICA to Nevada.

Bedient’s enthusiasm for the sport and its participants is evident. “I intentionally call each race an “event” because I don’t want to just put on races; these events are experiences. I try to have each event at an area in which whether you are a rider or a spectator, everyone can participate in some way,” he said.

Indeed, the non-profit NICL is a collaborative volunteer effort based upon NICA’s 5 Core Principles of strong body, strong mind, strong character, inclusivity, and equality. The league is funded entirely through sponsorship agreements and private donations.

Team Director Carlo Luri became involved after literally crossing paths with Bedient, who was leading a group of young riders out on a local MTB trail. Luri then reached out to his friend and Alta Alpina Cycling Club (AACC) rider Mel Maalouf, who was working with the club’s youth team. AACC got behind the effort and opted to sponsor a composite team made up of riders from 6th-12th grades.

The program has seen steady growth since the first team formed in 2016. After starting with 12 riders the first year, the Alta Alpina composite team roster now boasts 26 riders from Douglas County, Alpine County, and Lake Tahoe. Head coach Andrew Bray, who organizes many of the training rides up at Lake Tahoe, leads the team’s 10 volunteer coaches.

NICA offers 3 levels of comprehensive coaching certification, and anyone interested in volunteering can find further information about their coaching program on the NICA website, Volunteers are also needed to act as course marshals, to sweep the course after the last rider, and pitch in to help set up and tear down the course.

Luri said the 2019 pre-season gets underway in the spring and that the training season starts in July. Typically there are two training rides per week in preparation for the league’s four races, and the season ends in mid-October. All riders are invited to participate in the league.

“The majority of the training is throughout the summer,” said Luri. “We encourage people to come out and ride with us…if they want to race at the end of the season, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s okay too.”

Students interested in joining the team can check out the Nevada Interscholastic Cycling League page on Facebook, and can also send inquiries to Luri at

For more information about the NICL, log onto

Amy Roby can be reached at