NAG Title Chase Update: BOYS 'n MEN
USA BMX NAG POINTS BATTLES UPDATE: BOYS CLASS
June 2018 - Update No. 4 - by Jacob Smith
After a short break in the USA BMX National schedule, things are kicking back off with the Midwest Nationals in Rockford, Illinois from June 15th-17th. With that in mind, it is time to take a quick look at the current NAG standings and see how everyone is stacking up in their age groups. Girls/women cruiser, boys/men cruiser, and girls/women class have all been covered, which means it is now time for the boys/men class to take the spotlight. The NAG Standings take each points-paying class (girls cruiser, cruiser, girls, boys), divides the riders up into their age group, and ranks them based on the amount of National points they have earned over the season. USA BMX counts a rider’s best eight National scores, and any rider who has at least four National scores can be eligible for a NAG Plate. A NAG Plate is one of the most prestigious accomplishments a BMX racer can achieve in their career, and that is why keeping an eye on the current NAG points can be very exciting and a vital part of being a BMX racing fan. Be sure to get out to a National whenever it is convenient to experience the thrill of racing at a National, or the joy of watching some of the biggest USA BMX races of the season take place.
With all of this said, it is time to break down some of the biggest storylines going on the NAG standings right now. In what age groups are their close battles for the top spot? Who is on the verge of being in place to earn a NAG plate? Who should people keep an eye out for at upcoming Nationals? Who has been tearing it up on the National scene lately? Hopefully, all of those questions will be answered here, and others as well. Keep in mind, the Top 20 riders in boys/men classes earn a NAG plate, as opposed to the Top 10 in all other disciplines.
BOYS/MEN CLASS (Top Twenty earn a NAG plate)
5 & Under - Kicking things off is the 5 & under boys class, which is currently led by Californian Hudson Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the only 5 & under rider to top 1,000 points, and he has a 162-point lead over No. 2 Jacob Lachowicz. Trace Litherland is not far behind in third, and then it is Collin Pierce and Ramsey Chadwick rounding out the Top Five. Chadwick has made a big splash in the past month or so on his way to fifth, while other riders, such as Tegan Gilliam (sixth), Jackson Stauffer (fourth), Grayson Toscano (tenth), and Tucker Harwell (eleventh) have also been making big moves recently.
6 - The Top Five in the 6boys NAG ranks has stayed pretty consistent recently, and they all have passed the 1,000-point mark on the season. Current leader Jay Smith has nearly passed the 2,000-point mark (he is at 1,992), and with that he leads No. 2 Kane Schultheis by 139 points. Jordan Johnson, Talon Griffin, and Knox Perkins round out the Top Five, and then sixth through eighth (Wyatt Christensen, Logan Custer, and Kuba Badanik) features riders who have been moving up in the NAG ranks lately. Levi Burmeier and Maddox Lowe round out the Top Ten.
7 - There is a ton of talent in the 7boys ranks, as the Top Twelve impressively all have over 1,200 points. Leading the way at the moment are two riders who have over 2,000 points on the season, and they are Joseph Mather and Connor West. Mather leads West by just 15 points, and then they both have a small cushion on current No. 3 Keegan Skinner. Skinner has 1,807 points on the year, but fourth place Ian Brunetti has 1,806, and fifth place Henry Leners has 1,800, so the battle for third through fifth is very, very close. Considering the sixth through twelfth riders all have between 1,560 points and 1,203, there are a lot of battles within the 7boys points to keep an eye on.
8 - It's another tight battle between 2,000-plus point riders in the 8boys class, as Eli Staton leads Hayden Passanisi by just 18 points. Staton just recently went three-for-three at the Music City Nationals in the 7boys class (he'll move up by the end of the season), while Passanisi grabbed Main Event wins in 8boys on the first two days of the National. Kole Berg has moved up a few spots to third with 1,755 points, and he is followed by the talented Dylan Patterson and Wyatt Hicks, who round out the Top Five. Dominic Buch and Nathan Walker sit sixth and seventh, after recently moving up from outside of the Top Ten, and tenth and eleventh place Alexander Booth and Eli Bundy have moved up from outside of the Top Twenty.
9 - Holding onto a slim lead atop the 9boys NAG ranks is Matteo Pigo, who races out of Dallas, Georgia. Californian Daniel Waters sits 81 points behind Pigo, but it was not too long ago that Waters was sitting in the No. 1 spot. Most of the rest of the Top Ten has been pretty idle, but Ryder Willett, who is fifth, is one rider who has made a big jump recently, and Aidan Ragle (ninth) is another who moved from outside of the Top Ten into a single digit position. The Top Thirteen riders in this age group have over 1,000 points, and sixth through thirteenth is separated by under 300 points, so expect this class to be an exciting one all season long.
10 - There has been a bit of movement inside the Top Five for the 10boys ranks, and some of that movement includes the emerging of a new points leader. That leader is Gaige Gomolicke, and Gomolicke has moved into the lead with 2,171 points. Cane Wood sits right behind Gomolicke with 2,096 points, and then it is Karter Montellano, Tommy Bruney, and Cohen Bundy (who has made a huge recent jump into the fifth spot) rounding out the Top Five. Starting with Bundy, the fifth through ninth place riders are all separated by just 50 points, and the Top Fourteen all have over 1,000 points on the season.
11 - One of the most talented classes in the boys ranks has to be the 11boys group. For evidence, look no further than the Top Three, as Cole Frederick, Marshall Gehrke, and Joshua White all have over 2,150 points, and are some of the top ranked boys/men riders nationally. Frederick leads with 2,241 points, while Gehrke has 2,177, and White has 2,158. Current No. 4 Sean Day is just under the 2,000-point mark with 1,988, and the entire Top Seven has over 1,700 points. One rider in that Top Seven is Ryder Lawrence, who has jumped from outside the Top Ten to sixth. Lawrence, Gehrke (who has jumped from sixth to second), and Hunter Harrell (up to thirteenth from outside of the Top Twenty) have been the big movers recently.
12 - Team USA representative Ronnie Kim, who represented the U.S. at the UCI BMX World Championships, leads the way in the 12boys ranks. Kim has an astounding 2,255 points to his name, and that puts him over 150 points ahead of current No. 2 Robert Connelly, who has eclipsed the 2,000-point mark himself. This is another talented group to watch for, and recently Charles St. Romain, Banyan Howell, and Treyson Dillon have been riders to watch out for. St. Romain is up to fourth after being in eighth, Howell is up to No. 11 after being No. 17, and Dillon has lept from fifteenth to just outside of the Top Ten in twelfth.
13 - Things continue to stay fast and talented in the 13boys ranks, and so far no one has been faster in this group than Cannon Wood. Wood leads this age group with 1,966 points, and while he appears to have a decent points lead over most of the Top Ten and beyond, there is still a ton of talent right behind him. Jayce Bartlet, Tyler Grigsby, Noah Miguel, and Tyler Bailey round out the Top Five, and then riders like Nathan Kitchen, James Cutter Williams, and Music City Nationals sweeper Gavin Stazetski are also in the Top Ten. At Music City, Stazetski topped Wood, Bailey, and current No. 14 Ethan Popovich in impressive fashion, while Wood, Bailey, and Popovich each ended up on the podium twice over the three-day event.
14 - Do not blink during a 14boys expert Main Event at a National, otherwise you may miss the race. Leading the way in this super fast class is none other than Brandon Crain. Crain has over 2,200 points at the moment, but so does current No. 2 Peter Choat. Crain leads Choat by 42 points, and then he leads No. 3 Angel Montoya by 145. Montoya (13boys) and Crain (14boys) each won two Mains over the Music City Nationals weekend. Evan Enserro and Blaise Pereira round out the Top Five, but recent riders who have moved up the standings like Tyler Knight, Ryan Bramer, Kyle Hewig, Chase Craft, Gavyn Bowers, and Landry Wycough deserve mentions as well.
15 - The one and only rider in USA BMX that has over 2,300 points to his/her name is Dylan Wood, and one can find Wood leading the 15boys NAG ranks at the moment with his 2,320 points. Wood leads a very tough class, and at the moment he leads top rivals Jack Kelly by 112 points and Henry Chudzik by 192 points. There have been a few big movers in this age group over the past few weeks, and that includes Tyler Wright (No. 7), Bryce Homan (No. 9), Eric Drotar (No. 11), and Daniel Delvasto (No. 12). Rounding out the Top Five is Justin Houldson and Amakye Anderson, who both have over 1,500 points.
16 - Orangevale, California's Nicholas Adams leads the way at the moment in the 16boys ranks. Adams holds a slim 38 point lead over Gavin Freewalt and a slim 93 point lead over Patrick Coo, and all three of those riders have over 2,000 national points on the 2018 season. As far as the Top Ten goes, there has not been a whole lot of big movement lately, but Camron Mason is new to the Top Ten after jumping up from the No. 14 spot recently. At the Music City Nats, Freewalt swept the 15boys class over some tough competition that included current No. 6 Matthew Meekins (who was third on Day #1), while current No. 15 James Plummer went 1-3 on the first two days of the event in 16boys.
17 to 20 - The 17-20men class is extremely full of talented riders, and nearly the entire Top Twenty appears to have over 1,000 points! The new leader of the group is Spencer Cole, who has jumped up from the No. 5 spot. Cole leads Anthony Bucardo by 18 points and Rayne Lankford by 111 points, but No. 4 Braxton Elsen and No. 5 Jesse Welch are also within 200 points of Cole. Riley House and Markwane Billingsley have been the biggest movers as of late, as House has gone from outside of the Top Fifteen to No. 8, and Billingsley has gone from out of the Top Twenty to No. 11. Speaking of Billingsley, he went 1-1-2 in Music City, while riders like Welch, No. 7 Justin Richmond, No. 15 Alex Antil, and others also battled for podiums.
21 to 25 - There is another Californian atop a NAG ranking when it comes to 21-25men, and this time it is Shane Harlow leading the pack. Harlow has 1,959 points on the year, and that puts him 76 tallies ahead of Luke Roarty. After Harlow and Roarty, there is a bit of a gap to third place, but then things tighten right back up. Alec Nesbitt is the current No. 3, but Jared Johnson and Kyle Luse are both within 125 points of him, and they round out the Top Five. Nesbitt, along with No. 7 Brandon Propheter, No. 8 Douglas Widdows, No. 9 Jacob Abbe, and No. 12 Brad Lewis, have been notable movers in the standings lately. Widdows was the only 21-25expert to land on the podium all three days in Music City (he went 3-3-1).
26 to 35 - The biggest male age group in USA BMX, other than 51 & Over, is 26-35men, and it is currently a big battle between Matt Wilcox and Robert Patterson for the top spot. Wilcox currently holds it after a complete sweep of 26-35expert in Music City, but Patterson is just 15 points behind. Wilcox and Patterson have distanced themselves from the pack a bit, but there is a big battle going on for third between Evan Steinberg, Christian Ricks, and Chris Sutton. Steinberg holds the No. 3 spot with 1,562 points, but Ricks is right there with 1,526, and Sutton is just behind with 1,505. Not to go unmentioned, No. 6 Matt Calvin, who has made a big push in the standings recently, just went 2-3-2 at the Music City Nats.
36 to 40 - Making a big push to the No. 1 spot in the 36-40men class has been Greg Custer. Custer, who was previously out of the Top Five altogether, now leads everyone by over 300 points, and he finished on the podium two times in Music City (including a win on Day #2). Leeangelo Valencia is currently Custer's closest challenger, but Valencia has competition for that No. 2 spot with Justin Brunner, Eric Baca, Adam Scott, Jason St. Romain, and Richard Gresham all within 175 points of him. Speaking of Scott, he impressive went 1-2-1 in Music City, and he beat out top competition like Custer, St. Romain, Gresham, and No. 14 Geremy Jones.
41 to 45 - The man with the biggest lead in the NAG standings on the men's side is Chad Street. Street has 2,041 points on the season, and that puts him over 600 points ahead of second place rider Jason Silva. That is impressive, as was Street's complete sweep of the 41-45expert class in Music City. The talent in the rest of the field should not be undermined, as nearly the entire Top Ten in the 41-45men ranks has over 1,000 points. Two of those riders are current No. 6 and 7 Christopher Diaz and Cory Skinner. Diaz went 2-2-2 in Music City, while Skinner finished third on two of the days. Both Diaz and Skinner are involved in a big fight for the fifth spot along with No. 5 Yo Thach, No. 8 Paul Moreira, and No. 9 Grad Stimits.
46 to 50 - Make no mistake about it, the 46-50men class is one of the most competitive in USA BMX. As proof, look at the Top Four in the NAG standings. Shawn Diprete now leads the way with 1,998 points, but Jean Marc Durviaux is just 72 points back, Renato Silva is only 96 points behind, and Jim Nelson is right there, 163 points away from the top spot. Silva has made a big jump in the rankings recently into his No. 3 spot, while No. 9 Jason Carnes, No. 11 Jeremy Thompson, and No. 14 Gerry Erickson have also been making moves towards the front. In Music City, Diprete, No. 6 Mitch Bingham, No. 7 Drew Motley, and Carnes all found spots on the podium, and Diprete (twice) and Bingham (once) won Main Events.
51 & Over - Rounding out the boys/men NAG standings is the 51 & Over age group. On the top spot at the moment is Eric Rupe, and while he should be considered a favorite to take home the No. 1 plate at the end of the season, he has some very tough competition right behind him. Eric Sweets only trails Rupe by 60 points, while John Pringle and Robert Raymonde are both within 230 points of Rupe. Melvin Hayes rounds out the Top Five, and in this talented group, the entire Top Twelve has over 1,000 points on the season. Pringle, No. 7 Alfonso Gigani, and No. 13 Tim Merritt have been the most notable movers as of late. Back at Music City, Rupe went 1-1-1, while Giganti went 2-3-2, and Pringle went 3-2-3.
*National boys/men class Update (Top 99 earn a National plate)* - While on the subject of the NAG standings, a look at the National standings would be a good idea as well. This is where every rider with National points gets ranked no matter what their age is to determine who earned the most points overall for that subject of bike (girls/women cruiser, cruiser, girls/women am, boys/men am), and it helps to determine who really brought their best stuff to the National Series on the year when the lights were the brightest.
National - As mentioned before, only one male rider in USA BMX has over 2,300 national points, and that man is 15expert Dylan Wood. As a result, Wood holds down the No. 1 spot for the boys National rankings at the moment, which puts him ahead of all-stars like Ronnie Kim, Brandon Crain, Cole Frederick, Jack Kelly (who make up the rest of the Top Five), and countless others. Wood leads Kim by 65 points, Crain by 76, Frederick by 79, and Kelly by 112. Kelly is just six points ahead of No. 6 Peter Choat, and then it's 11expert Marshall Gehrke in seventh. Gehrke was previously outside of the Top Forty, so he has made some big moves in the National rankings recently. No. 8 Gaige Gomolicke, No. 9 Nicholas Adams, No. 10 Joshua White, No. 12 Spencer Cole, No. 13 Gavin Freewalt, and No. 16 Anthony Bucardo are other riders who have made a notable climb up the rankings lately as well. With the National Season only around halfway over, and with around thirty different male riders over 2,000 points on the season, the coveted National No. 1 plate is still anyone's to grab.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacob Smith races out of New York as a 17-20 Intermediate ("at the moment"), along with his brother (who is 21-25 Inter). THey both rode when they were younger in the NBL days, and just recently returned to the sport they love.
Jacob is an avid writer, who has dabbled in sports media, writing in the past as part of cnywrestling.com - a website that covers high school wrestling in the central New York area, and newyorkwrestlingnews.com, which has a similar goal as cnywrestling.com, but is based more around New York State as a whole. Smith is currently enrolled at SUNY Cortland as an Adolescent Education: English major.