CHS mountain biking team rolling along; team roundup
Mountain biking is a difficult sport. The athletes need top conditioning for hill climbing, combined with the confidence and bicycle handling skills necessary to navigate the downhills. Add to that the competition itself, with riders jockeying for position, passing on a curve and sprinting for the finish.
Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, the local high school league is growing by leaps and bounds, including the Claremont High School team, which is in its fourth year.
Mountain biking is not a California Interscholastic Federation sanctioned sport—the events, teams and competitions are part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Claremont competes in the SoCal Cycling League which began in 2008.
The league includes races for middle school age students and four levels of high school students: freshman, JV one, JV two and varsity. They have five races during the regular season, three of which are in the books, and a state championship scheduled for Tehachapi on May 18-19.
To qualify for the state, meet racers need to reach a certain level of accomplishment depending on their category, which ranges from a podium appearance to placing in the top 15. All varsity racers advance to state.
Blaine Pike has taken over the top coaching spot at CHS from Eric Grubb, who now functions as team director. The pair are making plans to expand the program which has 30 riders this season, compared with 17 last year. They also now have one girl, freshman Brooke Morgan.
“She brings a positive attitude and competitive spirit to the team,” Coach Pike said. Plus she invites her friends to the races with the intention of convincing more girls to join.
Mounting biking is a Pike family affair, with Coach Pike’s son Blair E. Pike racing on the middle school team and his wife Cari Pike filling one of the many assistant coach roles. They also go on mountain biking vacations together including last summer’s trek to the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to spend time with my son and instead of sitting on the sidelines I get to ride with him,” Coach Pike said.
Organizing the training rides takes a fair amount of work, so Coach Pike divides the team into three groups by ability. This requires at least six coaches for every ride because, as he points out, they will be stretched out across the trail on a typical day.
“I would like to thank the parents who sign up to coach. It [practice] doesn’t stay on one field, but you ride 10-15 miles with 25 kids, it’s a lot of work,” he said.
This year one of the biggest challenges has been the weather, with countless practices cancelled because of rain. “Thank goodness for Bonelli [Regional Park], at least we could do loops on the paved roads.”
He is reluctant to single out riders as being the best on the team, saying that they all work hard and are performing well. However, he noted that junior Garrett Cox has made the podium at all three races, including a third place last weekend at Vail Lake in Temecula. A new rider, seventh grader Cameron Vollaro, has been winning races, including his heat on Saturday at Vail Lake.
The top team spirit award goes to freshman Olson Grubb, who broke his chain during the race and then pushed his bike for two miles to the finish line. He could have stopped at the team tent for a repair, but that would have triggered a five-minute penalty.
“He ran right by us and up the hill,” Coach Pike said “That epitomizes the discipline and strength necessary to do difficult things on a bike.”
The next race will be Cruise the Keys at Keysville on April 27-28, followed by the Intergalactic Finals at Tehachapi on May 11-12.
Anyone interested in joining the team is welcome to come out and watch a race, but will have to wait until fall to join the team so that they can receive the proper training. There are also partnership programs at local bike stores including Jax in Claremont, Competitive Edge and Incycle where students can get a discount on a bicycle.
Coach Pike plans to come back next year and for a few years to come. Asked why he is willing to give up his free time for the Claremont team he responded, “I want help kids develop a love for mountain biking that will hopefully last a lifetime.”
Track and field
Claremont High School won a dual meet with Bonita last week at CHS, with the boys varsity team getting a pretty easy 91-45 victory. However, the girls meet was closer at 73-63. Both Claremont teams advance to a 4-0 Palomares League record.
The boys dominated across the board in several races, such as the 4×100, that were either uncontested by Bonita or in which the Bearcats had only one athlete on the field.
They swept three races including: Junior Nevah Cobb first in the 100-meter hurdles, followed by junior Brooke Bachman, second, and sophomore Juna Garcia, third; senior Levi Gardner first in the 200-meter dash, followed by junior Nathaniel Oluseyi-Oke and Gabriel El-Jaouny. Gardner was first in the 400-meter run followed by junior Isaac Martinez and El-Jaouny.
Additionally, the boys took the top two spots in several competitions: senior Aaron Reyes first in the 1600-meter run, followed by senior Vicente Huerta; senior Nathaniel Gadsby first in the 100-meter dash with Oluseyi-Oke, second. Senior Jacob Moran was first in the 800-meter run, followed by Jack Keough-Lansford; Junior Diego Denson first in the 3200, with Rowan Orlijan-Rhyne, second; sophomore Robert Davis first in the triple jump, followed by sophomore Andrew Truttmann.
CHS also came in first in the 4×400 relay, with junior James Settles, freshman Theo Chinn, senior Andrew Patterson and freshman John Warnke. Finally, junior Nathan Hoon was first in pole vault.
Claremont girls also swept a number of competitions including: senior Kalinda Reynolds first in the 1600-meter run, followed by junior Azalea Segura-Mora and senior Grace Dorantes; senior Sydney Hwang first in the 800-meter run, Reynolds was second and Gabriella Cerrillos third; freshman Maddie Coles first in the 3200-meter run sophomore Angie Gushue, second and senior Monica Fonseca, third.
Other top results include: freshman Selah Eum first in the triple jump, followed by sophomore Chelsea Lin second; freshman Halle McDaniels first in shot put, followed by junior Tatiana Sosnovsky; freshman Bella Sanvictores first in the pole vault followed by senior Dylan Rees; Sosnovsky first in discus.
Following last week’s victory over Colony, Claremont got another victory, this time a 3-0 win over Patriot High on Thursday in Riverside. Pitchers Aiden Ross and Diego Cruz combined for 10 strike outs with Ross earning the win.
The Pack had six hits, with senior Jonah Paez and sophomore Steven Mara both getting two hits including a double each. Paez had two runs while Mara added a run and an RBI to his stats. Junior Josh Kennedy had one hit and one RBI.
On Monday the Pack lost a competitive Palomares League game to Bonita, 3-0, in La Verne. Senior Michale Navarro had two of the pack’s five hits.
On Wednesday the Pack lost again to the Bearcats, 4-0, at home. With the loss they are now 6-17 overall and 0-8 in league.