Powless wins U23 women's cross country national championship

Shayna Powless (BMC Development Team) raced to victory in the U23 women's cross country race on a very hot and humid Friday morning at Bear Creek Resort in Pennsylvania. Kaila Hart (NoTubes Women's Elite Team) and Deidre York (Gear Movement) completed the top three

In the beginning of the three-lap race, Powless was battling with defending national champion Lauren Catlin (Durango Devo).

"We went out pretty fast. Lauren took off right from the start, and I was just trying to hang on the first lap," said Powless to Cyclingnews. "She maintained a good distance, but then I passed her going up to the climb. I didn't see her or anyone else after that."

Catlin had a rear wheel problem and pulled out going into the second lap.

"It was a fun race and it was tough. I definitely had to clip out a few times because it was pretty technical, but it was one of my favorite races so far," said Powless. "I could hear the announcer talking when the others came through, but it was hard to tell where they were."

Powless soloed onward for the win - her first cross country mountain bike national title.

Hart could frequently see her rival up ahead.

"I was just pinning it trying to stay with Shayna and Lauren in the beginning," said Powless. "My race was awesome - it was so fun. The course was awesome - even though I was suffering the whole time, it was so fun."

"It wasn't as hot as I was expecting. In Wisconsin last weekend, our race was at 1 pm, and that was brutally hot. I was glad we were racing in the morning. I remembered to drink a lot and poured a lot of water over me."

Hart's strategy was to focus on Powless in front of her, rather than on those chasing her. She improved upon her fourth place finish from last year.

In third place, York had a disappointing day.

"My race wasn't as good as I would have liked, but I'll take third," said York, still seeing the good part of the day. "The riding was great and the course was suited to me. It was just a bad day for my body - you can't do anything about that."

"I was going back and forth with the girl in fourth. She was a better climber than me, and I'd pass her on the descents. On the last lap, she unfortunately got a flat," said York, who was second last year.

Jill Behlan (University of Wyoming) and Emily Shields rounded out the top five.

Junior women 17-18

Kate Courtney (Whole Athlete/Specialized) won the two-lap women's 17-18 race ahead of Kaylee Blevins (Durango Devo) and Mercedes Drummond.

Courtney started her on a good note. "There was a tough start lap with a big climb. I got in front there and was able to hold it the whole race," she said to Cyclingnews.

"It was a great race. I loved the course. It was super technical and fun which is kind of a change for this year. Everyone was super courteous out there on the trail. I loved riding that course. To me, it was a 'real mountain bike course'. It had rocks, it had roots, it had climbing. It was physically and technically challenging, which is fun to ride and pushes you."

It was Courtney's first junior 17-18 cross country national title, which she added to two previous junior 15-16 titles. Last year, she finished third at nationals in the 17-18 race.

"It's been a great season. I've had great support and I've been working a lot on technical skills and training to compete on the international level. This year I was able to hang more with the top girls, which was definitely my goal."

Ellen Noble (CF Racing) and India Waller (Durango Devo) were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Junior women 15-16

Haley Batten gave Whole Athlete/Specialized a second junior women's title by winning the two-lap 15-16 race. Despite starting in a wave behind her elders, she was quickly mixing it up with the U23 women and came through in seventh overall on the first lap.

"I've had bad starts recently, but I got off the line and was able to get into first on the prologue. I was first into the singletrack, and then I was having really good laps," said Batten to Cyclingnews. "I usually crash a lot, too, but I didn't, and I was feeling very smooth. It went well."

Batten, who was the junior 13-14 national champion last year, was off the front the entire time. "I was sweating a lot and feeling the heat a little bit, but I was trying to get it out of my mind, and that helped me a lot."

Emma Drummond and Ksenia Lepikhina round out the top three.

Lepikhina was in second place until the last lap, when Drummond got around her on a steep climb.

"It was a very hard race. The hills made it hard, and it was a technical course, but I liked it. Right before the first rock drop, I moved up into second," said Drummond.

Lepikhina said, "I finished third. It was a good race, but it was pretty hot out there. On a steep climb on the last lap, I was in second, but Emma passed me. I hit a heat wave and was tired, but it was a fun race."

Tiziana Dehorney (Get out! New Mexico) and Melissa Seib (Bikeman.com) completed the podium.

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
U23 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Shayna Powless (BMC Mountainbike Development Team USA)1:28:37
2Kaila Hart (No Tubes Elite Womens Racing)0:00:56
3Deidre York (The Gear Movement Pro Cycling Team)0:09:12
4Jill Behlen (University Of Wyoming)0:11:58
5Emily Shields0:14:19
6Hailey Sarausky0:17:45
8Nicole Miranda (Mirco Racing)0:13:45
DNFNathalie KrantzRow 7 - Cell 2
DNFLauren Catlin (Durango Devo)Row 8 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Junior women 17-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kate Courtney (Whole Athlete)0:42:08
2Kaylee Blevins (Durango Devo)0:03:55
3Mercedes Drummond0:03:57
4Ellen Noble0:04:33
5India Waller (Durango Devo)Row 4 - Cell 2
6Karen Brocket (Jet Cycling/Jetcycling)0:08:24
7Caroline Woods0:08:41
8Ginny Jeppi (Sublime Athletics Velo)0:11:01
9Jessica Kruse (Team Bulldog)0:13:33
10Sarah Ogden (Bear Development Team)0:15:36
11Angelina Palermo0:15:37
12Maddie Ortenblad (Bear Development Team)0:17:33
13Morgan Tardy (Bear Development Team)0:24:56
DNFEmily Schaldach (Durango Devo)Row 13 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Junior women 15-16
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Haley Batten (Whole Athlete/Specialized)0:42:48
2Emma Drummond0:02:30
3Ksenia Lepikhina0:02:46
4Tiziana Dehorney (Get Out! New Mexico)0:05:14
5Melissa Seib (Bikeman)0:07:37
6Emma Swartz (Brazen Dropouts/Junior Dropouts)0:07:56
7Katherine Santos (Borah Girls)0:09:57
8Avery Morin (Bear Development Team)0:12:26
9Daisy Ward0:21:51
10Emily Croft (James River Velo Sport)0:22:03


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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.

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