Galena Growlers Begin 2024 NICA Season In The Mountain Hugger XC
Published: April 25th, 2024

Galena Growlers begin 2024 NICA season in the Mountain Hugger XC Congratulations to Malakai Hagenbuch of Norwich for his third place podium finish in the seventh grade boys’ race for the Galena Growers. (Photo from the Galena Growlers)

LIBERTY – The Galena Growlers, Norwich’s local National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) New York League team, one of the 17 NY League teams, traveled down to Liberty, NY for their first of five Spring 2024 season races, the Mountain Hugger XC.

We took eight of our 14 team riders down to the Walnut Mountain park. The High School course was a great 3.5-mile course whereas the Middle School course was one hill less totaling three miles in length. Varsity kids raced five laps, JV kids raced four laps, freshman raced three laps, where our middle school kids raced two laps of their respective courses.

We had one racer in 6th grade boys, three racers in 7th grade boys, two girls raced in the 7th grade girls’ race, one racer in Freshman boys and to round out our riders, one racer in the JV Boys race. The team came away with one Podium finish, where 7th grader Malakai Hagenbuch of Norwich finished third overall in his race. Malakai had a strong start, kept to his race strategy and rode two very consistent 3-mile laps.

Our most impressive race came from 11th grader Alex Kemnah of Unadilla Valley. Alex has been working very hard this winter/spring. I was expecting him to make the podium (Top 5) and that was his goal as well. His race had 29 riders. At the start, he crashed, starts are chaotic for sure. It was a four lap, 3.5 miles per lap, race - 14 miles in the woods. This kid showed a huge amount of character by getting back on his bike, keeping calm, maintaining focus, adjusting his strategy, and keeping his composure. He battled lap by lap back over the four laps from last place all the way to seventh place. Alex gets our R.E. Brooks Construction Racer of the Week with his performance against 29 strong JV racers.

Our other boys that raced all did great too. Amon Oliver of Norwich raced in the Freshman boys’ race and rode to an excellent eighth place finish for his 3-lap race. John Gracey, of Vernon, raced to a 13th place in the 7th grade boys along with his teammates Malakai and Carter Newton of Norwich who rode to a 19th place finish. Elijah Mondics of Sherburne, rounded out our boy riders by placing ninth in the 6th grade boys race. For both Eli and Carter, this was their first-time racing in NICA.

The Growlers had two girls racing as well. Both were in the 7th grade girl’s category. Margaret Kemnah, of Unadilla Valley, finished ninth and McKenzie Hagenbuch, of Norwich rode to a 7th place finish.

Story Continues Below Adverts

All our Growler kids had a great race day. It’s amazing seeing all the Camaraderie not only amongst our team, but all the support between the teams. All the coaches, all the parents, all the kids, it’s like one big happy family at a NICA race. We are all there to build on NICA’s mission to build strong minds, bodies character and communities through cycling.

Overall, the Growlers came away with a 15th place team finish, having only two High School racers. The R.E. Brooks Construction racer of the day goes out to Alex Kemnah. The WREN Sports racer of the day goes out to Malakai Hagenbuch. The Preferred Mutual racer of the day goes to McKenzie Hagenbuch. The In-Motion Designs racer of the day goes to Elijah Mondics.

The POC Sports racer of the day goes to Margaret Kemnah. The Skylla Engineering racer of the day goes to Amon Oliver.

The NBT Bank racer of the day goes to John Gracey.

The Todd’s Electric racer of the day goes to Carter Newton.

The Galena Growlers are now preparing for Race number two of five for the Spring season. “Race the Farm” will take place in Vernon, NY at the Tilden Hill Farm Mountain Bike park on Sunday, May 5.

- Information from the Galena Growlers