The Wiseco John Penton: Women's Race Report
MILLFIELD, Ohio (May 26, 2023) - The Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, returned to Millfield, Ohio at the Wiseco John Penton for round seven of the 2023 season. The women of GNCC had their hands full after steady rain Friday into Saturday to make for one heck of a muddy weekend! Here's how the female athletes performed after tackling the John Penton mud.
In the WXC bike class, eight of the fastest women in the world eagerly awaited the sound of Mikey Waynes' "ten second" call on Sunday morning. As Ricky Towery waved the green flag, it was GasGas/OverandOut Moto's Rachel Gutish grabbing a big Trail Jester's holeshot into the second turn to lead the pack into the woods.
Defending champion, Ampro Yamaha's Rachael Archer would take over the lead before checking in for lap one with Rachel Gutish in second, and Korie Steede in third on her Trail Jester's KTM. At this point in the weekend, the John Penton mud was a sticky mess, causing bottlenecks and weighing heavy on the machines. On lap two, a battle for the lead ensued between Gutish and Archer. Gutish was able to take the lead and build a 35 second gap as she reached the checkpoint to begin lap three. Steede had unfortunate issues getting stuck on lap two, dropping back from the leaders quite a bit, but managed to stay in third.
After building her lead to close to a minute, it was a heartbreak of a race for Rachel Gutish as a mechanical took her out of the battle. Rachael Archer was able to inherit the lead, Steede moved into second, and Prestin Raines into third.
Rachael Archer reached the checkered flag with ample time to spare to take her fifth win of the 2023 season. Korie Steede rode a strong, consistent race after her second lap struggle to bring it in for 2nd. Prestin Raines proves she's a strong WXC contender, taking her first podium of the season in 3rd.
"The first lap was sick. I got a good start, I was second on the holeshot. Rachel Gutish crashed a few corners in and I was able to ride away and pull a bit of a gap. The second and third lap were so slippery and the mud was so heavy. I crashed one time and looked down and my heart rate was at 198 and I was dying. Me and Gutish went back and forth over 10 times that second and third lap. Her bike kept dying and I knew her bike was probably not going to make it. I finally got back out front and saw a pit board saying I had a big lead so I just tried to ride it in for the last lap. The track's actually sick now!"
"It was a solid points day, but man it was a struggle out there for me today. That second lap, I came up to a bottleneck and tried to go left up an off camber hill. I fell back and my peg got lodged into a root. It took me and three other guys to eventually get the bike out. After that I was just trying to keep moving forward. The whole KTM crew and my mechanic were out there pointing lines and they don't know how much that meant, it was a huge help."
"This feels awesome. It's been a struggle of a season this year, these girls are no joke. Just trying to figure out where I stand and I want to belong on the box. This was fun. Last race I told myself I wasn't a mud rider and I sucked, and I needed to get better. I've been working hard on my mentality and just being able to ride in the mud. I had fun today."
The WXC ATV Class was in for a muddy treat Saturday morning as the rain continued to fall. Hurricane Hannah/Fly Racing/OBOR Tires/HMF's Hannah Hunter was able to make it to the BNR Motorsports Holeshot line first, but swung wide allowing Jessica Elioff to make the pass and head into the woods first on her Elioff Racing/BNR Motorsports/GBC Tires/Fly Racing ATV.
The standing water, sloppy mud, and bottlenecks throughout the race made for lots back and forth before they would see the checkered flag. Elioff managed to hold the lead through lap one, but as they rolled around for lap two, Hannah Hunter had made her way into the lead with Chloe Harper and Elioff close in tow. On lap three, Elioff made the pass for second and was just one second behind the defending champion. Harper maintained third place, and Emily Wise had moved up into fourth place having come all the way from the back of the pack on lap one.
Eager for an epic race for the win, we were bummed to see Elioff have trouble on lap four and drop back sixth. Hunter was able to build on her lead, with Chloe Harper moving into second, and Emily Wise into third. The top three held their positions through the final lap and Hannah "Hurricane" Hunter saw the checkered flag first to take her third win of the season. Chloe Harper, in her first season of racing WXC, took a career best second place finish, her second podium of the year. Emily Wise raced in for third and was all smiles after grabbing her first WXC podium in two years.
On the podium, Hannah Hunter said, "I felt great out there. I pulled the holeshot, which was surprising to me. Jess got by me and we rode together for a while. We hit a bottleneck, a lot of bottlenecks. Chloe was ahead of me at one point, Jess was ahead of me, then I was ahead of her. We just battled back and forth. I finally got in the lead and just tried to ride smart and stay out of the bottlenecks. Honestly I didn't even know if Jess had passed me or not, I was stuck in a bad bottleneck on the last lap and there were people passing me, so I didn't really know how I would finish, I just wanted to bring it in."
"It was a blast," said Chloe Harper after the race. "It's definitely great to be on the podium at basically my hometrack. I'm so happy I was able to put it on the box again and race against all these women. And be able to just fight through and finish with a second place. It might've not been fun for everyone out there, but I loved it. I had big Maxxis tires on and was able to run through everything. It was just so much fun."
"That was the most fun I've had in a long time!" Emily Wise said after her first WXC podium in two years. "I might just go out and run the afternoon! It was terrible out there, I mean this was a Snowshoe track. It was slick, it was nasty, there were bottlenecks everywhere. I never got stuck once and I think that's why I finished here! It was fantastic."
In the Women's bike class, Cate Nash took her first win of the season! Ellie Winland took second and Ruby Fustini third. In the Women's Vet class, Elizabeth Allen grabbed her third win in a row, with Valerie Horensky taking second, and Claudia Danielewicz taking her first podium of the season. Ellie Nash holds onto her Women's C class points lead with a mud race win at the John Penton, Kyleigh Fridley took second, and Megan Davis third.
Tory Mittendorf grabbed her first win of the season in the Women's ATV class! Malia Crump and Makenna Bruderly took second and third, keeping their points battle tight as we move into the last half of the season. Caidyn Stringfellow keeps the record breaking trend going with her first win of the season in the Women's C class, Katie Young took second, and Catrina Crump third.
Tiffany Valentine-Horwatt grabbed her fifth win of the season in the Women's Vet class!
The mud wasn't stopping the youth girls at the John Penton either! Addison Harris took her sixth win of the year in the Girls Supermini bike class, with Zoey Kimble second, and Calli Propst taking her first ever podium. The Girls 65 class has been so fun to watch this season, and round seven was no different. Baylee Arsenault tackled the mud to take her second win of the year, Paisley Harris took second to hold onto her points lead, and Auburn Boyer grabbed her first podium of the season.
Avery Collins continues to crush it against the ATV boys with a fourth place in the YXC2 class. Isabella Gouker is proving to be a force in the Schoolgirl Sr. in any conditions with her fifth win of the year, Madision Luckadoo stayed consistent for second, and Neveah Mulholland took her first podium of the season.
The girls are eager for another showdown as we head into Round Eight at the Parts Unlimited Mason Dixon in Mount Morris, PA!