TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute North junior-to-be Rachel Gutish, a recent state finalist in the IHSAA girls pole vault, didn’t stop having fun when her high school track and field season ended June 1.
On Saturday, the versatile 16-year-old athlete qualified for the upcoming Summer X Games at Los Angeles by riding her KTM 200cc motorcycle to a sixth-place finish in the women’s pro class of a GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series race inside the Power Balance Pavilion at Sacramento, Calif.
That means she is one of 10 riders — three who had pre-qualified based on their 2011 X Games finish, six who qualified in 2012 and one wild-card entrant from Germany — who will battle in the Women’s Enduro X event July 1 inside the Staples Center.
According to the espn.go.com website, ESPN2 will air several X Games events July 1, including Women’s Enduro X, between 9 p.m. and midnight.
“I’m incredibly excited,” Gutish told the Tribune-Star on Monday. “That’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time. There were a lot of girls there who were really fast.”
Saturday’s four-lap feature race in Sacramento was the second round of X Games qualifying, with the first round having taken place May 4 at Las Vegas. Gutish’s combined finishes in the first two rounds put her fifth in the point standings, good enough to qualify for the biggest race of her career so far.
Believe it or not, Gutish is not the youngest Women’s Enduro X qualifier in 2012. She said a 15-year-old from Canada also qualified, but she will be the second youngest in a group of mostly adults. She added that six of the 10 qualifiers are from the United States.
“I think I have the potential to win,” Gutish assessed, looking ahead to the five-lap Women’s Enduro X race. “But that’s only if everything lines up right.”
This is only the second year for Women’s Enduro X being included in the Summer X Games. Maria Forsberg of Seattle captured the first gold medal in 2011. This year, the 25-year-old Forsberg and 22-year-old Louise Forsley of Bernardston, Mass., are considered two of the favorites to win.
“My goal is to finish in the top five because these are the best riders in the world I’m competing against,” Gutish said, adding that the top three will be invited onto the podium afterward to receive medals.
A member of three different motorcycle-racing federations, Gutish will compete in a National Enduro Series event Sunday in Wyoming.
Gutish’s primary sponsors are Competition Cycle of Terre Haute, Moose Racing, VP Racing Fuels, KTM North America, Rekluse Clutches, Black Dog Racing, Smith Goggles and Spectro Oils. Members of her crew on race days include her father Andy Gutish, younger sister Bridget Gutish and mechanic Kevin Striegel.