The Galena Growlers Compete In The Canandaigua XC
Published: June 5th, 2024

The Galena Growlers compete in the Canandaigua XC The Galena Growlers came away with four podium finishes in their fourth race of the spring. Congratulations to seventh graders McKenzie Hagenbuch (third place) and Margaret Kemnah (fifth place), seventh grader Malakai Hagenbuch (first place), and JV racer Alex Kemnah (first place), who pose with other members of the team and their coaches. (Submitted Photo)

NAPLES – The Galena Growlers, Norwich’s local National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) New York League team, traveled out west to Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill in Naples, NY for their fourth of five spring 2024 season races – The Canandaigua XC. We took eight of our 15 team riders out to Gannett Hill. The racecourse was a great 4.05-mile course in length that really was a lot like our Quarry trails.

Varsity kids raced five laps, JV kids raced four laps, freshman raced three laps, where our middle school kids raced two laps. 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 one rider in the JV Boys race. The team came away with four podium finishes; 7th grader Malakai Hagenbuch of Norwich finished first place in his race for the 7th grade boy’s race, taking the overall season leader position in the win. 7th grader Mckenzie Hagenbuch raced to a third place finish and 7th grader Margaret Kemnah came home in fifth place in the 7th grade girls race. Alex Kemnah raced to a first place finish in the JV Boys race. Malakai, Alex, Mckenzie and Margaret all had made the podium.

Our training in/around the hills of Norwich, especially where we refer to “Growler Grove” up on the county property adjoining the Quarry has prepared these kids well with the single track trails and big climbs. We’ve been climbing the “Face” to the Quarry that will prepare anyone. All four kept to their race strategies and rode very smart races. For Alex and Malakai, their races came down to the finish. The last quarter mile of the course had riders coming out of the woods, hitting a tightly mowed trail that led up a grueling hill climb to the finish. Both Alex and Kai dug deep and took the win on that last uphill sprint with two dream mountain bike race finishes.

In the 7th grade girls, our two racers, Margaret and Mckenzie had great races as well. Both earning a spot on the podium. Kenzie and Margaret entered the woods well, hitting the first pinch point that put everyone into a pile up. They both jumped off their bikes, sprinted around the pile up and continued their two laps. I just love watching them race and working together out on the course. After the two-lap eight mile race, Mckenzie finished third on the day with Margaret two spots back in fifth. Margaret won the 7th grade girls Queen of the Mountain (QOM) having the fastest hill climb on the day. Excellent riding for sure!

Amon Oliver of Norwich raced in the Freshman boys’ race and rode to an excellent ninth place finish for his three-lap race 12 miles, mostly all in the woods. Amon rode his three laps with an average of 25 minutes a lap. Great job Amon. Keep plugging away. His ninth place finish puts him in eighth place series overall out of 33 Freshman boys racers in the league.

With Malakai winning the 7th grade boys race, the other two Growlers, John Gracey and Carter Newton both had great days in the 7th grade boys race as well. John got caught up in first pinch point coming into the woods and finished in sixth on the day. On John’s second lap, he had some chain issues giving him some mechanical difficulties. This race has John currently in fifth place overall on the season. Carter rode to his best finish yet, 15th place which brings him up to 13th overall in points on the season.

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In the 6th grade boys race, Elijah Mondics had a great race. Eli finished in seventh place, finishing his two-lap eight miles in 62 minutes and 23 seconds. After four races, Eli sits in sixth place on the season.

The weather was great, the course was tough, but very fun, and it was a great race day today, a great day for mountain biking in the hilly Finger Lakes region of New York. Ontario Park at Gannett Hill was a new venue for all of us Growlers, but after pre-riding the course on Saturday afternoon, all our Growler Kids and coaches felt at home as the trails are very much like the hill to the west of Norwich – the Quarry. All the kids felt like this was just a four-mile version of one of our favorite trails,“Tracy’s Sweep”. The results proved it too with four podium finishes on the day.

Our kids showed a lot of character today and all their efforts over the season showed at race four. Heart, strength, determination and confidence were all on display today. You can definitely tell we’re at race four of the season. Now we’re only a short week to race five, which is our State Championships at Glimmerglass State Park in Cooperstown. Now’s the time to get a little more rest. The hay’s in the barn as they say and we’re gonna taper a little and hope for great races next Sunday.

The coaches are having fun, and more importantly, the kids are all having fun. There’s something to seeing kids, both the boys and the girls, competing, all out, for over an hour (6th graders) to an hour and fifty minutes (JV boys) racing from 8 to 16 miles (20 miles for Varsity). It’s just the kid, the bike, mother nature, the trails, and a lot of determination / hard work. No time outs, no halftime, no whistles where the clock stops, and no substitutions, just pure guts in a race against their peers. There’s not another sport like it out there over these ages (6th to 12th grades) with that long of a duration of competition. These kids are tough and when they finish their grueling race, the pure look of satisfaction on their success is so great.

Overall, the Growlers came away with a 15th place team finish with only two high school racers on the day, scoring 974 points overall. Team scorers were Alex Kemnah with 540 points and Amon Oliver with 434 points.

The R.E. Brooks Construction racer of the day goes out to Malakai Hagenbuch. The WREN Sports racer of the day goes out to Mckenzie Hagenbuch. The Preferred Mutual racer of the day goes to Alex Kemnah. The In-Motion Designs racer of the day goes to Margaret Kemnah.

The POC Sports racer of the day goes to John Gracey. The Skylla Engineering racer of the day goes to Carter Newton.

The NBT Bank racer of the day goes to Elijah Mondics.

The Todd’s Electric racer of the day goes to Malakai Hagenbuch.

The Magro’s Pizza racer of the day goes out to Amon Oliver.

The Principal Design and Engineering racer of the day goes out to Alex Kemnah.

The Hoffman Excavation racer of the day goes to McKenzie Hagenbuch.

The Galena Growlers are now preparing for race five of five, the final race for the spring season. Race five, “The NICA NY Championship” will take place in Cooperstown, NY at the Glimmerglass State Park on Sunday, June 9. Come cheer us on as we build strong minds, bodies, character and communities through cycling. Again, we thank our Community and all our great sponsors that support us getting #MoreKidsOnBikes. Please honk at us or give us a yell if you see us out riding!

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-Information from the Galena Growlers