Dixie High School graduate Gwen Sepp finishes fourth in the cross country event at the US Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championship, Durango, Colorado October 15, 2021 | Photo provided by Gwen Sepp, St. George News
ST. GEORGE – A Dixie High School graduate, Gwen Sepp is making a name for herself as a mountain biker at Utah State University.
The former Flyer secured a spot on the USU Mountain Bike Club team as a freshman and finished fourth in the cross country event at the National Mountain Bike Championship college in the United States.
Sepp was one of two Aggies with solid finishes at the event, which was held October 13-17 in Durango, Colorado.
“It was crazy conditions, it had snowed over 6 inches on the course before the race,” Sepp told St. George News. “People were out there with shovels trying to get all the mud, ice and snow off the trail.”
The trail is normally 8 miles long but had to be shortened because the conditions were really bad.
Even though this was her first time competing in such conditions, Sepp said adversity actually helped her mentally prepare for the race.
“I slept like a baby the night before which almost never happens before most races,” she said. “It took the stress away. As soon as I saw the course I thought I would be super grateful if I could just finish. So I didn’t care where I was or how I was going to run.
The race turned out to be a battle against the course, not against the other bikers. Sepp said the main difficulty in these conditions is that the mud sticks to the bike chain and causes it to slip off the sprockets, making pedaling impossible.
“Fortunately I was able to avoid this and finished strong,” she said. Sepp was joined in the top 10 by USU senior Bailey Nielsen, who finished seventh.
USU senior Trevor McDonough won two national titles, placing first in the men’s club double slalom and men’s club downhill, sweeping gravity events.
McDonough became the first USU cyclist to win a national championship and the first-ever Utah state club champion.
Sepp said that initially Dixie’s transition to the USU club squad was a bit difficult.
“I didn’t know anyone when I went to the first race,” she said. “We ended up being really good friends now, but it was a whole new start for me.”
Sepp added that the hardest part of competing in the club team was getting used to mountain biking competition without his father, who was his mechanic during his high school years.
“It’s cool to compete at the college level after coming in from Dixie,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I’m one of the first kids they had to run in college.”
Sepp is majoring in Kinesiology Exercise Science at USU.
“I love the mountains here in Logan, and it was super exciting to be part of the mountain bike club team,” she said. “I’m already training for next year.
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