Another fantastic report, from our man in the field, Chris Cullins-
The 2011 Youth Nationals just concluded this weekend at the Trials Training Center here in Tennessee for riders 15 & under.
Ty is our only regular national competitor who is still eligible. He has so far won his class every year since he was 6 and this year would be going for his seventh in a row. The National takes place over a three day period, with each day being a separate national. Being 12 Ty moved up to the 13&under class this year.
Since he was here, our 7 year old Cole also competed in the 7& under class. Last year’s youth national was Cole's first and only time to ever ride a trial and he's probably only ridden about 10 times since before the week of training here at the TTC; he's into riding horses and other activities.
Well the weekend sure didn't go as I expected. I figured it would be relaxing. Cole hasn't ridden enough to really be competitive and Ty should win again without too much of a problem, plus I was minding for Cole and Chase Harker was minding for Ty.
Day 1- I took Cole to the same spot I took Ty when he was that age for the morning warm-up before the trial. He was riding pretty good for him, though he was still dropping his shoulder and leaning into the turns more than he should and putting down small dabs. Ty went off and practiced with Chase in the morning.
The sections for the 7 year olds where challenging, but nothing really too hard. They rode 2 loops of 6 sections. I was very pleased with Cole's first loop when he came away with a 2! Cole was thinking he could do even better for his second. Well it didn't work out as he dropped a dab in a section, got a little squirrelly in another for a 3, and crashed in another for a 5. A 9-point loop. He wound up with 11 for the day. Fortunately this was good enough for the podium in 2nd place! We were also happy to see his 2-point loop tied with the winner for the best loop in the class. There were 5 riders in his class.
Ty's class rode 4 loops of 8 sections. Ty's first 3 loops were solid and well ahead of the others. His 4th fell apart with two 5's, but he still won by 18 points.
Day 2- Cole started off really well; he cleaned some really rough rocky sections in the creek, made it over the huge logs (for him) and didn't dab once on his first loop!. Unfortunately he rode through a wrong gate in one section and stopped before the exit gate in another! The result was a 6 point loop. His second loop he didn't ride as well and scored 4 points. Still good for him- we were pleased. Well, as it turned out his competitor really messed up his first loop and Cole got the win! Not what we expected! The 7& under championship would come down to the final day!
When I caught up with Ty & Chase on their second loop they told me Ty had also missed a gate on his first loop, but had cleaned all the other sections. At this point there wasn't too much worry as he has always been able to come back before. He dropped one dab on his second loop. I stayed at the scoring board and watched the scores go up. Another kid scored 1 point on his first loop, then started coming in with clean loops! Ty cleaned his 3rd loop. By then it was obvious though, he wasn't going to be able to make up the points. By the time he went out for his fourth loop he knew he wasn't going to win and may end up third. I was proud of him for not giving in and he came back with another clean loop. He finished 2nd, tied with 6 points with third which he beat with cleans. 1st place rode a great trial with only 1 point for the day.
Day 3, 4th of July-- I didn't get much sleep that night. Both my boys could win national championships if they won. Ty expected, Cole a fun surprise. Cole's first few sections where challenging for him and he cleaned them all. Sections 5 & 6 had some tough turns that he would usually dab in, but not this time. He bobbled a little yet kept his feet on the pegs for a clean loop! He took a little break before his second loop. Before we went out I saw his competitor had loop scores of 1-0! That meant just 1 dab tied them up and 2 dabs and it was over. I didn't tell Cole this. As he rode the sections my heart almost stopped every time Cole dropped his shoulder or leaned to the inside, but he was determined and kept his feet on the pegs for another clean loop and a clean day. With that, Cole is the 7&under champ!
Fortunately the sections where tougher for Ty's class today. He bested the others on every loop. He won with a score of 16, 2nd had 39 points. There where 7 riders in his class. Ty has now won 7 youth championships in a row.
I'm proud to say we'll be coming home from this long trip with 2 champions and 3 championships (counting Ty's junior championship from the adult nationals)
Thanks again to all who donated at the Youth Trial.