Kanati Tires Buckwheat 100: Women's Race Report
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (October 11, 2023) - Just because we’re nearing the end of the season doesn’t mean the women are slowing down! The female athletes geared up and bundled up for a chilly one at The Kanati Tires Buckwheat 100 in West Virginia this weekend for Round 11 of the 2023 Progressive Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship.
The WXC ATV class was nothing short of exhilarating to watch. At the throw of the green flag, Traci Pickens took the BNR Motorsports holeshot on her GBC Tires/Yamaha Racing/Fly Racing machine. Able to maintain the lead, Pickens checked in for lap two with only five seconds between her and the next FOUR machines! Jessica Elioff, Kate Osburn, Chloe Harper, and Hannah Hunter followed wheel to wheel…
Pickens led for another lap, but by lap four, points leader Jessica Elioff had taken over the lead on her BNR Motorsports/GBC Tires/Fly Racing ATV with Hannah Hunter and Chloe Harper just two seconds behind and a gap building from the rest of the pack. White flag was out, and the battle was on! As the GNCC fans eagerly awaited at the checkered flag, it was WXC newcomer Pro Graphx/Penske Racing Shocks/Lonestar’s Chloe Harper who emerged first to take her second win of the season! Defending champion, Hannah “Hurricane” Hunter, gave it everything she had to the line and finished on Harper’s back wheels for second, just .3 seconds off. Jessica Elioff raced in for third only 1.4 seconds behind. Talk about coming down to the finish!
Here’s what they had to say on the podium about the wild race and how they feel heading into the final round at Ironman.
“It feels good to be able to win again,” said Chloe Harper. “I won on a Honda and now I won on a Yamaha, so it feels good to be able to win on both. It actually feels pretty good, I had to work pretty hard for this today. I feel like I've earned not only to be in the WXC class but to be able to compete with these amazing women up here. At Ironman I want to run a strong race, and hopefully finish in the top 3, if not win!”
Hannah Hunter commented, “I felt great! Last race we had a broken bike, it put us down, but we’re back up on the podium and we’re happy. It’s definitely a mind game for sure. I work on my own bikes, so I've been putting countless hours just prepping it and going to the gym and going to work to make money to come here and I'm pretty happy. I'm feeling great, all I can do is give it my best at Ironman and see what happens.”
“It was a battle from start to finish,” said Jessica Elioff. “I had a good start going third into the woods and then just made a pass on Kate, got into second, made a small mistake on my own, I think it put me back to fourth. Then I was able to make it all the way back up to first and then a couple more little mistakes. I mean the pressures on, it's hard to ride a clean race, I just had to put my head down and finish at least on the podium. It's just as much a mental game as it is physical. You have to be mentally calm and focused and know what you need to do and in good enough shape to get you there. I like Ironman. It was my first race ever at Ironman and I did good, and it was my first win ever at and you know maybe it could be my first championship but anything can happen, I’ve been telling everybody that it’s a two hour long race and a lot can happen in those 2 hours that you don't see.”
The WXC Bikes lined up Sunday morning for their shot at the Buckwheat 100. It was almost Deja vu to the Mountaineer start with AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer and Trail Jesters KTM’s Korie Steede charging for the Trail Jesters holeshot, only this time Archer was able to snag it. To follow up clinching the 2023 WXC Championship last round, Rachael would lead from start to finish to take the checkered flag with two and a half minutes to spare.
“I led the whole race,” Archer said. “The track was sick; I had a lot of fun today. I didn't even know if I'd be lining up this weekend, I busted my foot at a local and have nine stitches in my toe and a couple broken toes. I'm actually wearing a size eight boot on my left foot and a seven on my other so yeah, I managed to wrap it up and it felt alright, I dabbed it once on a rock and that hurt pretty good but other than that pretty good.”
Korie Steede was able to maintain a strong strong race to finish second. “Me and Archer were pretty tight off the start,” she said. “She grabbed the holeshot and honestly, good ride to her, obviously she has some broken toes so that's pretty gnarly but yeah not just wasn't my day out there for sure. We're going to make some adjustments and come out swinging at Ironman for sure.”
Prestin Raines was able to take her third podium of the season on her new GasGas machine. “I put a lot of work in this whole summer,” Raines commented on the podium. “...and Beckley didn't really show it, so I'm glad this weekend we got to put it on the box. I couldn't do it without Taylor and the whole Bonecutter team backing me. Just a solid ride today, there was a girl in fourth that I battled back and forth with for a bit and kind of pulled away in the end. All in all, good day, I kept it up on 2 wheels and I'm really proud of today.”
The Bikes and ATVs were able to have a manageable track, but with a rain shower at race time on Friday the EMTB’s had some muddy fun in store for them. Ashley Hendershot battled through for the WXC EMTB win!
“I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn't expect it to be that bad,” Hendershot said. “I came out of the woods in one spot and looked up and everyone is sliding back down the hill, and I was just like ‘oh boy!’. It was definitely slick, but I just tried to keep it upright and keep pedaling.”
The Women’s Bike class always shows up to race in big numbers, but the Buckwheat 100 welcomed big bike newcomer Addison Harris to the class after wrapping up her Girls Supermini Championship in the youth division. Not only did she try her hand at the competition, but Harris also took the win! If that wasn’t enough excitement for this class, Ruby Fustini took second in the race, but it was just what she needed to wrap up the Women’s Bike Championship with one round to spare. We’re excited to see what the future holds for these two.
We’re seeing the move of up and comers already this season. Malia Crump wrapped up the Women’s ATV Championship at Round 10 and set her sights on WXC for Round 11 taking a solid 7th place.
Makenna Bruderly was able to command the lead for the Women’s ATV class and finish with time to spare. Kalla McCormick chipped away through the pack each lap to finish second, and Tory Mittendorf third.
Madisyn Marsh in the Women’s EMTB class made a final lap charge in the gnarly conditions from third to first, for her first win of the season! Megan Lipscomb led most of the race and held onto second. Charly Bates stays consistent in her podium finishes for third. We love seeing this class grow!
More growth happening in the youth girl’s division! Paisley Stout wrapped up her Schoolgirl Jr ATV Championship at Round 10 and decided to give the Schoolgirl Sr class a shot. She followed points leader Isabella Gouker closely for a few laps before making the pass and racing into her first win. We’d say she’s off to a great start! Gouker would take second for the day, and Ryleigh Dearing third.
Zoey Kimble and Madison “Maddog” Harmon battled closely in the Girls Supermini Bike class for the majority of the race. Kimble made the pass stick by lap five to build a gap and bring it home for her second win of the season. Harmon maintained second, and Lola Grozbean battled through the pack to make her way into third before the checkered flag.
Less than two weeks until the final round of the year at Ironman MX for one of the most popular races on the circuit! Now is the time when these athletes are looking to finish strong to set the tone for the 2024 season, stay tuned on Instagram @Women.Of.Moto.