Since December 1st, the St. Francis Mountain Bike Team has been preparing for the upcoming 2013 SoCal League High School Mountain Bike series, the 5th season in the league for the Golden Knight cyclists. As a member of the SoCal league, the Golden Knights will compete against 55 other high schools on challenging cross-country mountain bike courses throughout Southern California.
Under the guidance of Head Coach Lee Bird and Assistant Coach Patrick Donovan, the Golden Knights are hopeful that they will be able to continue building upon a stellar 2012 season that resulted in 18 podium finishes and 2 podium results at the State Championships. More impressive though is that the team has not had a single DNF in its previous 4 seasons, a testament to the hard work put in by the students. “Each year we have worked hard to improve the infrastructure of this program so that we can provide an environment for the students to learn how to safely and competitively race mountain bikes”, says Coach Bird.
The team includes returning seniors Carl Demolder, Matt Kubly, Scott Marshall, and Michael Togneri. Scott and Matt finished 12th and 15th respectively in the JV D1 class in 2012 and look to improve on those already solid results. “Our seniors will compete in the JV or Varsity class this season based on how their training continues to go. They have worked hard and I am hopeful that they will continue to improve”. Carl Demolder and Michael Togneri both had interrupted seasons in 2012 and are looking to represent the Golden Knights throughout the 2013 season.
Representing the junior class and racing in JV for the Golden Knights will be Daniel Balsam, Keenan Koch, Kenny Larsen, Hunter Nalley, Chris Perez, and Will Towne. Daniel Balsam finished 3rd overall in the sophomore class last year and should be a real threat in the JV class this season. Keenan, Hunter, and Will all return for their 3rd season of racing and have greatly improved their fitness in hopes of improved results. New this year to the team are juniors Kenny Larsen and Chris Perez.
The Varsity class will be contested by junior Sean Bird. Sean finished 3rd overall in the JV class last year and 4th at the California State Championships. Since leaving basketball, Sean has focused his athletic efforts on cycling and has represented the Golden Knights impressively through his two seasons on the team.
Racing in the sophomore class will be Nathaniel Blakely, Austin Hamilton, Alex Marshall, Skyler Payne, Remi Roth, and Owen Shain. “Our sophomore team is very deep. Nathaniel, Austin, Skyler, and Remi all finished in the top 20 overall last year as freshman with Austin and Skyler finishing 5th and 8th respectively at the State Championships” says Coach Bird. New to the team this season are Alex Marshall and Owen Shain. Alex and Owen have shown great improvement in their technical skills through training and should make an impact in the upcoming season.
The Golden Knight freshman class has always been well represented and the 2013 season should be no different. New to the team this year are freshman George Orloff, Andrew Palaski, Andrew Schiller, and Michael Vega. “I really enjoy working with the freshman class each year. The students are excited to be able to race mountain bikes for St. Francis”, says Coach Bird. Andrew Schiller and Michael Vega both have prior mountain bike experience and have looked very strong in practices. George Orloff and Andrew Palaski are working hard on the skills necessary to compete on the mountain bike and will be strong contenders for the Golden Knights.
“I am very grateful to the administrators and staff of St. Francis for supporting our team. The school sees the value of our program and has really supported us since the beginning”, says Coach Bird. “I am also grateful to our sponsors and the parents and parent coaches for all of the time that they have put in to help make this program strong. Because our races are all over 2 hours away, there are lots of logistics and coordination that requires many volunteers. I’m grateful for their help”.
Follow the Golden Knights all season on their website at http://stfrancisracing.blogspot.com/.