Golden Knights Weather the Storm, Ride to Successful Finish

Photos provided by Coach Lee BIRD Daniel Balsam, above, narrowly missed a top spot finish in last week’s competition. Steven Ayoob (inset) finished 23rd after a first lap crash.
Photos provided by Coach Lee BIRD
Daniel Balsam, above, narrowly missed a top spot finish in last week’s competition. Steven Ayoob (inset) finished 23rd after a first lap crash.

Contributed by Coach Lee Bird

This past weekend, the St. Francis High School Mountain Bike Team competed in the third event of the six-race SoCal league series at the Keyesville Wilderness Area near Lake Isabella. A fast approaching rain storm and tough weather conditions made for a very exciting weekend of competition as the Golden Knights overcame Mother Nature’s wrath and performed well.

Saturday’s weather for the team’s practice on the Southern Sierra course saw 75 degree temperatures and beautiful, blue skies. However, the weather forecast for Sunday was ominous and ugly. Sunday did turn out to be a rainy and cold afternoon and the Golden Knights recognized that it was going to be a race of attrition.
Steven Ayoob
In preparation, the team dialed-in its race-day nutrition plan and warm-up in hope of being better prepared when the riders reached the starting line. Podium finishes and solid results from all of the Golden Knight racers at Keyesville validated that the team’s extra work and focus was worth it.

In the Freshman Division 1 class, Golden Knights Austin Hamilton and Skyler Payne just missed their third consecutive podium showings with a very strong sixth and eighth place finishes. Philip Saulny also finished in the top 50% of the field with a very solid 16th place finish. Rounding out the field of Golden Knights were Remi Roth in 30th and Nathaniel Blakely in 36th.

The day’s first podium finish occurred in the Sophomore Division 1 race with Daniel Balsam narrowly missing the top-spot with a hard earned second place finish and his second podium result so far this year. Hunter Nalley earned a strong finish in 13th, and Keenan Koch battled for 21st.

As the JV and varsity riders approached the starting line for their afternoon start, the clouds darkened and the wind began to howl. The Golden Knights would be competing in the cold and rain.

Working hard and never giving up, Sean Bird overcame some mechanical problems with his bike to earn his top finish ever, a second place result in the JV race. The strong JV results continued with Scott Marshall working his way up from 17th to finish in 11th.
Matt Misetich1
As they have done all season long, JV riders Matt Kubly, Connor Haas, Carl Demolder, and Cameron Aubert also finished strong, completing the race within seconds of each other and securing 13th, 14th, 15th and 18th place. Battling back from a first lap crash was Steven Ayoob in 23rd place.

In the varsity contest, Christian Breitschwerdt continued to improve racing to 25th and Matt Misetich came back from a first lap crash to finish in 27th.

Overall, the Golden Knights came away with two impressive podium finishes as well as some excellent individual results across all categories. Each success motivates the team to continue to work hard as it looks forward to the second half of the SoCal League racing series.

The Golden Knights will return to Vail Lake for the season’s fourth race on April 15. Vail Lake was the site of the team’s best race this season at stop #1 and the team hopes to perform well there again.