The Trojans High School Mountain Bike Team pedaled over most of the competition at the National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s California State Championships May 15, earning second place in Division II.
Thirty-nine teams representing the NorCal and SoCal regions raced to the finish line in Los Olivos “and we came in second,” said proud coach Mark Ferry. “My team is awesome.”
The spot on the podium is especially sweet for a team that has only existed for two years and, compared to others at the championships, is relatively small. It’s also waiting for recognition from its namesake high school. The mountain bike team has private funding and is not an official Oak Ridge High School team. A second-place finish and growing interest could soon change that, said Ferry, who, along with several volunteer assistant coaches, oversees 30 high school mountain bikers and 80 kids on the juniors teams.
“It was great, very exciting,” said freshman Aleck Crofoot, 15, said of the championships.
“Very surprising,” added the team’s only senior, Maren Cosens, 18.
Cosens ran cross-country and track at Oak Ridge and got into biking to help her train for races. But she liked the riding better than the running and joined Ferry’s team when he started it during the 2009-10 school year. “I like the challenge, how much you have to push yourself,” Cosens said. “You really have to train hard.”
Ferry marveled at Cosens progress since she first strapped on her helmet a couple of years ago. “She’s gone from a beginner … and now has her ‘pro’ card,” he said.
“After college I’m definitely going to pursue a professional racing career,” said Cosens, who will attend Cal Poly in the fall.
Varsity riders like Cosens made three, 6-mile laps on the championship trail that included a 650-foot climb, a creek and several rock obstacles.
Freshmen like Crofoot and Brett Maur, 15, had an equally challenging 12-mile course. Maur, like Cosens, said he loves the challenges mountain bike racing provides. “You go out there and push yourself as hard as you can.”
The outcome of the race depends solely on the rider, but the teammates agreed that a strong coach definitely helps motivate them. “If you don’t have a good coach you won’t be good, “Maur said.
Ferry takes the Trojans High School Mountain Bike Team though practice rides four times a week and the serious riders compete in about 20 races each season. What’s nice about the El Dorado Hills team is its diversity, noted sophomore Dan Folwarkow, 16; riders at every level can participate. That mix also builds good relationships between beginning and more experienced riders, Cosens added. “The teammates really support each other,” she said. “We all train hard.”
And that hard work has paid off, not only in the form of a second-place award but also through individual riders’ successes. Nine Trojans qualified for the national championships scheduled in mid-July in Sun Valley, Idaho.
“Every kid this season seemed to progress forward,” Ferry said. “Everyone got better throughout the season.
“This whole thing couldn’t have been done without all the volunteers,” he added. “I just feel blessed by their enthusiasm.”
National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s California State Championship stats