2020 Nabholz Bounce Back Nationals Race Report
When the final gate of the Lonestar Nationals fell on March 8th, 2020 none of us knew how our lives would change in the coming weeks. As Covid-19 initiated a pause in human activity all around the globe, BMXers wondered if and when they’d be able to get back to doing what they loved.
At the beginning of May the Governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, started an advisory group to reopen their state. They appropriately chose the name of the “Bounce Back Advisory Group.” A few days later an opportunity to host an event in Pryor, Oklahoma arose, and the Bounce Back Nationals were born.
Mayes County BMX was constructed just under a year ago and sits inside MidAmerica Industrial Park, a 9000 acre facility making it one of the largest in the country. Its home to over 80 companies including familiar brands such as Google, Dupont and Gatorade. You can read more about the Stem Program offered there in the March 2019 issue of Pull Magazine.
Lets talk racing. A late spring heatwave bombarded the area with temps in the 90’s and humidity levels that most weren’t ready to contend with. Despite mother nature’s wrath the racing action was awesome.
Pro Open kicked things off with a full gate of racers from coast to coast. The 2019 National #1 Amateur and rookie pro Riley House was in attendance as was the elder statesman of the AA Pro class, Jeff Upshaw. These two duked it out all three days with Jeff taking the lions share of laps, sealing victories on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was all house in the 1 lap takes all main event. AA Pro Jake Peebles and superfast A Pro Austin McKan also made appearances on the podium.
Did we mention that racers from 39 states traveled to Pryor to get a piece of the action? With that level of talent some great racing was bound to happen. The “Baby Mangler” Malia Alvarez dominated the 6 & Under Mixed Open and 6 Girls Expert classes, doubling each day. For those who are wondering about her nickname, it comes from her team manager George “the Mangler” Andrews who is one of the most decorated amateur racers in our sport’s history.
While at breakfast on Sunday we got word that “Lil JT” Jemma Tollefson hasn’t touched her bike in months. We certainly couldn’t tell as the young Box superstar never lost a lap in the 8 Girls Expert class which she just moved up to a few weeks ago.
Arizona’s Leighla Paguia hasn’t been on the national scene for very long but trust us, she will be a factor. She pulled off her first national wins ever in the 11-12 Girls Cruiser class on Friday and Saturday.
Speaking of big bikes, 56-60 cruiser was a battle between Scott Sloan and Ben Troia. These two traded elbows in every main event but in the end Troia took all three wins back to California.
Alpha’s 10-year-old super skilled young lady Annalyse Solano almost secured a triple on day one but BMX Sharks’ Sage Gazan spoiled the celebration. Sage is another up and coming rider that you’ll surely being hearing more about soon.
The 14 year old expert showdown continued between Cedric Cade and Ronnie Kim. Cade got the best of the world champion this weekend taking two of the three wins to be had in Oklahoma. With the way rider count has been looking in this class, these two will definitely be in the hunt for the amateur title come Tulsa time.
I cannot remember a time that more people came up and thanked the USA BMX staff for such an awesome event. We definitely couldn’t have pulled this event off in 28 days without the assistance of John Schaffitzel, Dale and Cindy Riley, and all of the volunteers at Mayes County BMX. You all have sparked something that will hopefully continue to shine for many years to come.
We’ll see you all in Phoenix in a few days.