Wyncote, PA July 10, 2023 – The USA Cycling Cross Country National Championships held at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie, PA, witnessed an exceptional display of talent and determination from four promising student athletes over the weekend of July 7-9, 2023. Henry Berson, Emmaline Schadel, June Pezalla-Granlund, and Logan Vanderpool, all hailing from the greater Philadelphia region, showcased their skills in this prestigious national event.
Henry Berson, from Elkins Park, represented Guys Racing Club, while Emmaline Schadel and June Pezalla-Granlund, both female from Cheltenham, raced for Circle Cycle Racing. Logan Vanderpool, a male athlete from Abington, also competed for Circle Cycle Racing. These dedicated student athletes, who participate in their local NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling League) team SoMont Cycling Youth Mountain Bike team, demonstrated their passion for the sport and their commitment to their craft.
Bear Creek Mountain Resort, a renowned local race venue in Pennsylvania during the summer and a popular ski/snowboard resort in the winter, hosted the national championships. Although the athletes were familiar with Bear Creek due to their previous participation in local events, this marked their first time competing in a national USA Cycling event. Despite the challenging weather conditions and demanding course, their resilience and skill were evident throughout the races.
“Racing the mountain bike national championship, only an hour away from my home, was an incredible opportunity. I set out with a goal of pushing myself, and I accomplished that.” – Henry Berson, 12 grade Cheltenham High School
The SoMont Cycling Youth MTB Team, along with its parent non-profit youth development organization Independence Youth Cycling, has been instrumental in nurturing the talents of young mountain bike athletes in southern Montgomery County and the greater Philadelphia region. All four student athletes owe their introduction to the sport of mountain bike racing to their involvement in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League, also known as PICL.
Circle Cycle Racing’s directeur sportif, Kenric Strohm, expressed his admiration for the composure, maturity, and performance displayed by the student athletes during their first national USA Cycling-affiliated event.
Dave Berson, coach and parent of a rider from Guys Junior’s Racing Club, acknowledged the formidable weather conditions and the demanding nature of the course, highlighting the perseverance and excellent performance exhibited by all riders.
“Nationals was my first time witnessing so many female racers gathered in one place! I could sense the passion and dedication from everyone present. Seeing other women who share the same love for racing as I do was truly invigorating and affirming.” – June Pezalla-Granlund, 11th grade, Cheltenham High School
Pro riders Savilia Blunk and Christopher Blevins won the 2023 Cross-Country National Championships. Andie Aagard, Nicholas Konecny, Maddie Munro, and Brayden Johnson won the Junior and Under-23 categories. Both Blevins and Blunk were part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) in high school, as were many of the athletes at the USAC event.
Although the local athletes did not secure podium finishes, their participation in the USA Cycling Cross Country National Championships provided invaluable experience and served as a stepping stone for future success. Armed with this newfound knowledge, they eagerly anticipate the return of USA Cycling to Bear Creek in 2024, where they will undoubtedly demonstrate their growth and talent once again.
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