Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 California State Championships

The St. Francis GOLDEN KNIGHTS Mountain Bike Team
“California State Championships”, Novato CA – May 19, 2013
The 2013 season for the Golden Knight’s mountain bike team concluded on Sunday with 13 members of the team traveling to Northern California to participate in the NICA California State Championships. Over 650 students would test their mountain bike racing fitness and skills against each other in this one-day event featuring the largest race fields ever for high school mountain bike racing. The race site was at Stafford Lake Park in Novato and featured a purpose-built technical course with over 5 ½ miles of distance and 700’ of elevation gain per lap. All classes would compete on the longest circuit of the year.

The Golden Knight freshman team started the day off with high-hopes. Unfortunately, Andrew Schiller and George Orloff both crashed in the first turn and were soon chasing from last place behind the field of 84 riders in their 11 mile race. Teammates Michael Vega and Andrew Palaski, who have both improved tremendously this year, would be the first Golden Knight’s in to the finish at 23rd and 30th place. Andrew Schiller would earn the “hard-charger” award, passing 49 riders to finish in 35th position, with George Orloff also working extremely hard to fight back for a very respectable 43rd place.

Four members of the St. Francis Sophomore Division 1 team traveled to Novato, but only 3 were able to race. Remi Roth would be unable to compete because of the flu, a disappointment for Remi who had worked very hard all season. In his place and ready to work hard were Skyler Payne, Owen Shain, and Nathaniel Blakely. Out of the 62 Sophomores who lined up, Skyler Payne would finish a season-best result of 12th place, covering over 16 miles! Also having a season-best was Owen Shain in 28th, with Nathaniel Blakely coming in at 37th.

Next up was the JV team. Not only would the lap distance be longer than normal for this race, but the JV and Varsity teams would race for 4 and 5 laps respectively, instead of the traditional 3 and 4 laps. The extra distance and time on the course would prove to be challenging for most of the riders. Like the freshman race, the JV race would see a huge field of 82 riders lining up. Hanging in there for over 22 miles of racing was Austin Hamilton, finishing in a very fast race in 23rd. Teammates Keenan Koch and Kenny Larsen battled and worked through tough conditions to finish in 65th and 72nd. Kenny Larsen said after the race that “it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.

The Golden Knight Varsity team was once again represented by junior Sean Bird and senior Scott Marshall. The deep Varsity field of 51 riders would be on course for over 2 hours, covering more than 27 miles! Sean Bird dropped back on the first lap because of mechanical problems, but clawed his way back to finish in 18th place. Scott Marshall wrapped up his high-school mountain bike racing career (over 20 races) with a hard-fought 41st place.

For the 5th season in a row, the Golden Knight mountain bike team completed every race without a single DNF! This is unheard of in a difficult sport where physical and mental challenges are commonplace, but testament to the hard work and dedication of the students. The Golden Knights will begin recruitment for the 2014 team in September, with the first practice on December 1st.

The Golden Knights mountain bike team is 100% volunteer managed and coached and is very grateful for all of the support they have received from the parents, alumni, and their generous sponsors, including: Design Imports, Hollandays, Merchants Building Maintenance, Mountain Pine Shutters, Strategic Law Partners, Nu-Hope, Kevin Martin/UBS, Stratz & Company, Financial Guaranty Insurance Brokers, Lucas Horsfall Murphy & Pindroh, Lantern CycleWorks, Montrose Bike Shop, Crescenta Valley Insurance, and Church and Larsen.  GO KNIGHTS!
Andrew Palaski

Owen Shain

Michael Vega

Andrew Palaski

Sean Bird passing 5 Varsity riders

Kenny Larsen

Keenan Koch - Smiling

Skyler Payne - That face says it all - Tough Sport!

Scott Marshall celebrating the finish of his final high school race!

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