By COACH LEE BIRD
Published: Monday, March 25, 2013 | 2:07 PM
This past Sunday, March 24th, was a day of many firsts – the first podium of the season and the first ever varsity podium finish in the history of the St. Francis Golden Knights Mountain Bike Team! Held at the beautiful Lake Perris State Park, the Golden Knights tackled a very unusual mountain bike course, one that featured sand, asphalt, and very fast speeds. Each 5.2 mile loop took the riders from the beach sand to high, mountainous boulders. The addition of high temperatures and challenging conditions tested the riders to the fullest.
The first race of the day featured four Golden Knight freshmen taking on 46 other freshman riders from across Southern California. In only his 3rd mountain bike race, George Orloff showed his strength and power and continued improvement with a fine 8th place finish, his best result yet. Close behind were his teammates Andrew Schiller and Andrew Palaski, in 12th and 14th, and battling through the tough conditions was Michael Vega in 20th. Once again, the Golden Knight freshman team showed great ability and represented the Golden Knights well.
Four riders from St. Francis represented the Golden Knights in the Sophomore Division 1 class. Remi Roth used his climbing talents to full-effect to gain ground on his competitors and ended up with his best result ever, a fantastic 7th place finish. Nathaniel Blakely earned 12th, and Skyler Payne and Alex Marshall battled through the heat to earn 20th and 23rd.
By the time the JV Division 1 race got started at 1:00p.m., the temperature had reached close to 90 degrees. Austin Hamilton paced himself well with very consistent lap times within 10 seconds of each other to earn a solid 8th place. Daniel Balsam was the next Golden Knight JV rider in 19th. Matt Kubly rode the final mile of the race through sand and deep grass with a flat tire and narrowly missed a top-20 result, coming in 22nd. Hunter Nalley and Kenny Larsen both had their best results of the season coming in 26th and 35th. Will Towne worked hard through the heat for 30th, and rounding out the Golden Knight JV field were Keenan Koch in 42nd, Carl Demolder recovering from a flat at the beginning of the race to finish in 45th, and Chris Perez with his best result of the year finishing in 46th.
The Golden Knight Varsity team was once again represented by junior Sean Bird and senior Scott Marshall. Sean felt that the fast-paced course would be well-suited to his road race background, and he was right! Sean helped set a very high-paced tempo and led or was in the leaders group most of the 4-lap race. Sean sprinted with another rider out of the beach sand to the finish line and narrowly missed a win, but still earned an incredible 2nd place finish. This was the first Varsity podium result for the Golden Knights in their 5 season history, and the first podium result for the team in the 2013 season. Scott Marshall also rode a smart race to narrowly miss a top-20 result, coming in 21st.
The Golden Knights again showed grit, courage, and perseverance to have all 19 riders complete their race. That’s 22 straight races without a single DNF! The Golden Knights head to race # 4 in Keyesville (near Lake Isabella) in three weeks. More intensity in their upcoming training should help them improve on their speed as they enter their final two races and the State Championships.
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.
For more more information, call Andy Burghdorf at (818) 790-0325 ext. 513 or e-mail email@example.com.