Three BYU students excel at national cycling competition

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Hadley Peay, left, and Chris Jorgensen competed at the 2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships. (Chris Jorgensen)

Three BYU students hope their successful mountain biking season will encourage the school to start an extramural mountain biking team.

Chris Jorgensen, Andrew Conover and Hadley Peay each competed in two events at the 2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in California held the weekend of Oct. 11-12. 

“I hope it shows BYU that we have some pretty good bikers here and a lot of potential,” Jorgensen said. 

At the championship, they competed as “Utah Independent” racers because the group is not sponsored by BYU. They are talking with the extramural office to become affiliated with the school so they can receive financial help to pay for competitions and officially represent BYU. 

“We’re doing it because we love the sport, and we’re willing to put in that money and time,” Jorgensen said. He finished in fifth place in the men’s dual slalom, an event where two bikers race on a track with curves and jumps. 

Mountain biking is like other sports where athletes compete in conferences. Jorgensen, Peay and Conover raced against other schools in Utah as part of their conference competitions. Their races at the conference level qualified them to compete at the national competition.

Conover, a full-time student at BYU, said he trains for upwards of 15 hours a week for competitions. He placed 11th in men’s cross country and also competed in short track.

Andrew Conover competes at the 2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Biking National Championships. (Andrew Conover)

“It has been a little bit hard,” Conover said. “You definitely have to have a pretty strict schedule.”

Most of the competitions at the conference level have been on the weekends and nearby so the students didn’t have to miss class to compete. Conover said professors were pretty understanding when he had to miss class for the national competition.

These students not only balance school and training but they also have to plan their own travel to competitions.

Peay said she drove to California with her family for the competition and that traveling with a bike posed its own challenges.

“We stopped in Vegas at a hotel, and they wouldn’t let us take my bike into the hotel room,” Peay said. Peay and her family left the hotel because she needed a safe place to keep her bike. 

Peay placed sixth in women’s cross country and second in women’s short track. 

The three BYU students showed their school pride and wore BYU jerseys at the event even though they are not affiliated with the school.

“You’re representing the school, but you’re also representing the Church,” Peay said. “I’m representing something that’s so much bigger than me.”

Officials from the extramural office on campus have attended different mountain biking competitions, and the students hope that in the next year or two they will be recognized as an official BYU team.

Morris Havea, BYU Extramural Sports program manager, said there are no finalized plans to add mountain biking at the moment.

“It’s one of those things where we’ll have conversations. I’ll do the research and do the reporting,” Havea said.

The conversations might start with Havea, but others decide whether or not to create an extramural team.

“There’s a ladder that it climbs, and all of us are in conversation. Then decisions get made after that,” Havea said, adding that higher-level administrators will make the final decision.

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