On March 24 was 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 Lake Perris State Park, the Golden Knights tackled a very unusual mountain bike course that featured courses of sand and asphalt, and very fast speeds. Each 5.2-mile loop took the riders from the beach sand to high, mountainous boulders. 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 third mountain bike race, George Orloff showed his strength and power and continued improvement with an eighth place finish, his best result yet.
Close behind were his teammates Andrew Schiller and Andrew Palaski, in 12th and 14th. Battling through the tough conditions was Michael Vega in 20th. True to form, the Golden Knight freshman team showed great ability and represented the Golden Knights well.
Four riders from St. Francis took part in the sophomore Division 1 class. Remi Roth used his climbing talents to full effect, gaining ground on his competitors and ending up with his best result ever, a seventh 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 p.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 eighth place. Daniel Balsam was the next Golden Knight JV rider; he cam 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 was Keenan Koch in 42nd. Carl Demolder recovered from a flat at the beginning of the race to finish 45th and Chris Perez has his best finish of the year at 46th.
The Golden Knight varsity team was represented once again by junior Sean Bird and senior Scott Marshall. Bird felt that the fast-paced course would be well-suited to his road race background – and he was right! Bird helped set a very high-paced tempo and led or was in the leaders’ group for most of the four-lap race. Bird sprinted with another rider out of the beach sand to the finish line and narrowly missed a win, but still earned a second place finish. This was the first varsity podium result for the Golden Knights in their five-season history and the first podium result for the team in the 2013 season. Marshall also rode a smart race to narrowly miss a top-20 result, coming in 21st.
The Golden Knights showed the grit, courage, and perseverance that has been their hallmark with all 19 riders completing their race.
The Golden Knights head to race No. 4 in Keyesville (near Lake Isabella) in three weeks.
The Golden Knights mountain bike team is 100% volunteer managed and coached. Support has been given from parents, alumni, and 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.
Submitted by Coach Lee BIRD