2013 GREAT NORTHWEST NATIONALS
By Tracy Stephens / Photos by Mike Albright
The Great Northwest Nationals weren’t just great. They were EPIC.
After six years at the Hooker Creek Event Center, you never know what to expect when you roll into Redmond, Oregon. While we (gratefully) didn’t see minus-degree temperatures, snow or rain, the winds did blow in more than 250 motos of spectacular racing action.
This year, the GNW’s were one of the additional Vet Pro races of the series, and Free Agent/Rockstar’s Cristian Becerine owned the weekend. Oregon local Adam Treadwell, who has really stepped it up the past couple of years, battled hard in an attempt to put the Blackbox/Tradition colors on the podium, but it was the usuals - SE’s Javier Columbo and Dan’s Comp’s Matt Pohlkamp who joined Becerine both days in the top-3.
Continuing on the fast track through the A-Pro ranks, Northwest fan favorite Josh Klatman, in his first year of Pro, put the Redline colors on top for Saturday. Klatman dominated most of his rounds on day one but Yess’s Jim Brown and Anarchy’s Austin Hiatt kept the pressure on. On Sunday, the class kept Klatman locked up in pack traffic, leaving Anarchy’s Hiatt turnin’ up the cranks and grabbing his first career pro win. Alberta’s Brown - now on the Ken Cools training program, stayed right on Air-Austin’s tail and ended his weekend with two 2nd place paychecks, while Phoenix’s “Mini-Coop” - Kristian Cooper, slid in to the three spot.
While many in the Northwest look up to riders like Redline’s Joshua Klatman and Phoenix’ Lain Van Ogle, I discovered who these riders look up to. Klatman said of 9-year-old Chris Yoho, “He inspires me.” Having to come back from a serious injury in 2011, he has overcome any obstacles or setbacks, and continues to improve. With support from Scott Benson and the Breakout BMX team, Chris was soon on a new bike and within a month of his accident, was back on the track. Yoho is now an intermediate and came out to tackle his first national ever. “It’s hard to think that a 9-year old racer can inspire me, as a professional,” Klatman said, “but I think about him when I’m going through a rough time.” Riders like Chris are truly an inspiration to us all, and we look forward to seeing him climb through the ranks, on up to expert someday.
The amateur action kicked off Saturday with the entertaining mayhem and action of the Striders riders. These little rippers are launching their BMX careers as young as age 2. Redmond’s own Luke Lyman - who came out pedaling when he was born during the weekend of the GNW five years ago, is now a seasoned national competitor, and picked up the 5-year old win. Wins also went to local Nolan Finch who snagged the 4-year old division along with 3-year old Isabella “The Gremlin” Leija of Chico, CA. And in the youngest age group of all, it was 2-year old Samuel Trerise scoring the victory. These little guys and gals can set their sights on moving up in the BMX world and perhaps one day we’ll see them competing in the USA Cycling Development series.
...speaking of the Development Series, this weekend Vendetta/Elite’s Makieva Hopson was consistent and smooth out of the gate. “The Hulk” was out in front all weekend, taking double wins. Boise up and comer Michael Boyle put the power to the pedals for Eight 01/Extreme BMX Products, and took the 2-spot on Saturday, while Phoenix’ Brian Ensey pulled it out on Sunday. Damian Ontiveros slid into thirds both days - doing it for 510 Bay Area BMXers.
One of the many new faces on the national circuit this year is Blackbox/Tradition’s Olivia Armstrong. A strong local competitor for many years in Oregon, “Sweet Pea” is now showing she’s a viable contender in the USA BMX big leagues and picked up wins in both 13 Girls and 13-14 Girls Cruiser. Crupi’s current leader of National Girl points is 12-year-old Anna Johnson - out of Texas. Her and veteran Vendetta/Elite’s Patty Metzger both stepped up and grabbed double-doubles, with wins both days in class and cruiser. If winning once at a national is good, what do four wins make you?
Cruiser riders at the GNW’s were doing anything but cruising. There were double wins from 14 of the 30 classes. The “California Kid” - Tyler Grigsby, was hot on the pedals all weekend and fell just shy of bringing home all wins this weekend. While only 7 years old, Grigsby regularly snags the podium spot for Vendetta/Elite and has now risen to No.5 spot in current national standings.
The Tangent cartel has an up-and-coming powerhouse in 8-year-old Justin York - who picked up double wins in open and class, and also with last years’ surprise Grands winner Dustin Hammond (14x). Hammond was just one win shy of a scoring perfect weekend. One of the best races to watch this weekend was anything involving 16x’s. While corner carnage messed with the back of the pack, the battle up front was between local Redmond rider Taylor Stephens and California’s Alden Volle. Phoenix’ Stephens was on top of his game with the hometown crowd behind him and worked hard to hold off the driving Dans’ Comp rider. Each of them took a win in open and class, splitting the weekend evenly, and you can expect we’ll see more of this heated rivalry throughout the year.
Factory Felt’s Marquise Montgomery looked to be the one to beat in 17-18x and Phoenix’ Bryce Betts looked to be the one to do it, but came up just a bit short on Saturday. Betts had the lead on Sunday going into corner two but left a little room and Montgomery, trying to make the move, left them both taking dirt samples. Tangent’s Tanner Puckett was on the gas and was right there to capitalize on the carnage and claim the win.
Whenever the 19-27x’s hit the track, it’s always guaranteed edge-of-your seat excitement. In one of the biggest shockers of the weekend, PULL magazine’s cover-boy, Robby Patterson, watched Saturday from the infield, while 510 Bay Area’s Brandon Cato and Redman/Rockstar’s Kyle Bastin cranked out the one and two finishes. But Sunday was a different story, as Extreme Team’s Patterson backed up his two cruiser wins and pulled off the move of the weekend out of turn one and never looked back to put the Sunday win in the books and climb up the national standings ladder into the No.2 spot.
Although it’s only April, there’s a lot more action to come ...and likely, a lot more carnage. Whether you’re headed to Louisiana or out for some sun in Cali, the USA BMX big rig will be rolling into a national near you soon. See you at the races!