By Justin Graves
HSU at Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals Tahoe – Day 3
The HSU Cycling Team’s final day at Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships at North Star was focused on the men’s downhill race. HSU riders Justin Graves and Kevin Pabinquit qualified high in Saturday’s 4x and were favored to do well in the weekend’s final event. Because of forecasts for a thunderstorm Sunday afternoon, race organizers changed plans for the downhill. As sprinkles greeted riders in 8am practice the organizers canceled seeding and moved the finals to 9am. This meant racers could only get a brief practice on the downhill course, and it was possible trail conditions would change.
The rain eventually held off until the very end of the awards ceremony, leaving the course dry. Riders were seeded by their 4x qualifying finishes, placing Graves second to last. Pabinquit posted a fast DH time early that took a long time for any other riders to break. He eventually placed 16th on the day. As more riders descended the hill, times continued to drop. Graves crossed the line and went into the hot seat with one rider still on course. Graves caught and passed a slower rider in his run. Top 4x qualifier Blake Carney of Cal Lutheran was within sight of the same passed rider at the finish. There was some confusion over who had posted the fastest time as the announcer mistook one time for another. But Carney slid out in his run and lost valuable time. Graves’ run would claim the Division II Collegiate Men’s Downhill National Championship for The Humboldt State Cycling Team.