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Tuesday June 19th, 2018 6:34AM

High school competitors set to battle for state mountain bike title on Saturday

By AccessWDUN Staff

GAINESVILLE — While Atlanta and Columbus play host to various high school championships this weekend, Gainesville will also see a crown handed out to the best in the state.

More than 200 competitors will descend on Gainesville on Saturday to battle it out for the Georgia High School Cycling League's (GHSCL) Peach State Championship Race at The University of North Georgia Gainesville Campus.

Races begin with the high school boys at 11 a.m., with middle school boys and girls following at 1 p.m.. The high school girls will take off at 2 p.m. The championship series awards ceremony will take place immediately following the Individual and Team Race awards.

There could be plenty of local representation on the medal podium.

Last year's team champion, Habersham Central, is currently in third place after starting the 2015 season looking for another title and will have steep competition from the Hall County Prima Tappa Team, currently in first place. Fannin County Composite Team, currently in second place.

The Georgia league has enjoyed double the participation numbers from their inaugural campaign with 24 teams and 238 registered racers across the state of Georgia and one team in South Carolina. Several of the teams more than doubled their participation numbers from last season. The Hall County Prima Tappa team grew from just six riders in 2014 to 24 riders this season.

The GHSCL currently operates under the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) umbrella, providing exclusive mountain biking programs for high school students (grades 9-12), and beginning in 2015 (grades 6-8). The Georgia League is one of 16 overseen by NICA which was established in 2009. NICA has over 6,000 student-athletes and 3,000 licensed coaches across the nation, reflecting over a 1000 percent growth increase in six years.

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