The Stillwater Mountain Bike Team recently wrapped up its fourth consecutive championship in the Minnesota Cycling Association’s All Team Finale on Oct. 30-31 at the Mount Kato Ski Area in Mankato.

In addition to a victory in the finale, the Stillwater High School and Middle School teams each finished atop the overall cumulative season team points lists.

This latest victory extended Stillwater’s run of titles that started in 2017 and continued in 2018 and 2019. Regular racing during the 2020 season was not conducted due to COVID-19.

More than 100 student-athletes make up the Stillwater Mountain Bike Team, which includes riders from 6th-12th grade. This is the 10th year for the Minnesota Cycling Association and more than 80 teams and 2,400 student-athletes participated this season.

There are Middle School (grades 6-8) and High School (grades 9-12) categories with schools competing in Division 1 (larger schools) or Division 2.

Seven regular season races are conducted around the state, with each team competing in four of those seven races — with all teams competing in the final race at Mount Kato.

The Stillwater High School Team placed first in all three of its regular season events, notching victories at Lake Rebecca in Rockford on Sept. 11-12 and Course No. 1 (Sept. 18-19) and Course No. 2 (Oct. 16-17) at Whitetail Ridge in River Falls. Team results from the race at Redhead in Chisholm were not included due to weather-related cancellations.

Those strong performances led up to the All Team Finale, where Stillwater outdistanced runner-up Southwest Minneapolis 4,439-4,217 for the top spot. Hopkins followed in third with 4,215 points.

“The all-inclusive state finale is quite a spectacle,” Team Director Dan Ralston said. “With every team there, every rider wants to pop a great race and show off for the huge crowds. Our Stillwater riders were amazing. We focused on staying consistent, keeping our goals realistic, and riding smart. The riders had fun, and the superb results speak for themselves. They crushed it with the whole Minnesota mountain bike community there to see.”

Contributing to the scoring for Stillwater wit top finishes were Vincent Ramirez (4th) and John Kubiak (6th) in varsity boys, and Rowan Malmberg (9th) in the varsity girls division. Stella Powell and Cate Koelzer finished first and second in the freshman girls category while Lily Ward and Meredith Christensen placed first and third in the JV2 girls field. Jack Ralston added a fifth-place finish in the boys JV3 category.

It was a much tighter battle in the Middle School Division 1 team standings as Stillwater held off Minneapolis Washburn by just a two-point margin (2,069-2,067). Brainerd was also not far off the pace in third place with 2,061 points.

Eloise Powell (8th grade girls) and Camden Gage (6th grade boys) help lead Stillwater with third-place finishes in their age category. Charlie Sanderson finished fourth in the seventh-grade boys division while Marg Minich (6th grade girls) and Jack Kalmon (7th grade boys) each placed seventh in their classification.

“Eloise, Camden and Charlie consistently placed in the top five in every race this season and helped power the middle school team at state,” said coach Chris Lemme. “But several other riders stepped up with their strongest efforts of the season, which was critical to edging out Washburn for the championship. I’m just so proud of the whole team.”

Stillwater finished among the top three in each of its middle school races this season, including a victory in Chisholm on Sept. 9-10. Stillwater also placed third at Lake Rebecca and second in both races conducted at Whitetail Ridge.

Girls make up about 15 percent of the Stillwater team, but at state half or more of the team’s overall top scoring points came out of the girls divisions, according to coach Kristina Smitten.

“The breadth of female cycling talent on the Stillwater team is extraordinary,” coach Jim Cassell added. “It was great to watch Cate Koelzer, Stella Powell, Lily Ward and Meredith Christensen encourage and push each other, both during training and at the races. There is a lot to look forward to for these girls again next year.”

Here are some of Stillwater’s top performers and where they placed on the total points list for the season:

Boys

Category Athlete Place

6th grade Camden Gage 2nd

6th grade Donaven Chase 9th

7th grade Charlie Sanderson 2nd

8th grade Brecken Makowski 6th

7th grade Charlie Sanderson 2nd

JV2 Charlie Johnson 7th

JV3 Jack Ralston 4th

Varsity Vincent Ramirez 4th

Girls

Category Athlete Place

8th grade Eloise Powell 4th

9th grade Cate Koelzer 1st

9th grade Stella Powell 2nd

JV2 Lily Ward 1st

Jones honored by MCA

One of the primary organizers for the Stillwater Mountain Bike Team when it began nearly a decade ago was Calvin Jones, who was the original team director.

The Minnesota Cycling Association presented the 2021 Volunteer Power Award to Jones in recognition of his significant contributions to the team and to the league.

Jones served as the team’s director for eight years and also created the SASCA, a nonprofit organization that supports the team and local trails.

Jones is credited for starting the Equipment Manager Program and Bike Maintenance Mondays. He helped build and maintain the team’s local trails and serves year-round to promote broader community use and enjoyment of the trails. He also repaired and maintained a supply of donated bikes to loan to riders.

The MCA stated in its announcement: The true magic of Calvin Jones’ contributions lies within the impact he has on the people around him. As the lead of the Equipment Manager Program, he taught student-athletes how to master critical thinking skills that apply to life in general.

“He is part Yoda, part father figure, part cheerleader, and part bike professor, all rolled into one,” expressed a coach. “Calvin has been a key person in my life, teaching me many things about bikes and pushing me to my mechanical limits, helping me and many others to learn their bike as … a tool for success in riding, racing, and most importantly: life,” writes one student-athlete.

Calvin’s volunteer efforts resemble the iceberg analogy, with what you see at any given moment just a fraction of the huge base of “tireless commitment,” “selfless service,” and “genuine drive to impact the lives around him” that he has contributed throughout the years to not just his team, but to his community and the sport of mountain biking.

For his exceptional and sustained commitment, enthusiasm and dedication to riders, team and community, we are honored to present Calvin Jones with the 2021 Volunteer Power Award.

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