mountain biking

Interest on the rise as HCMTB closes out high school season

Submitted photos

By Ray Hamill — It appears as if more and more young local riders are hitting the trails in Humboldt County, and that rise in popularity is evident in the numbers competing for the local high school team.

The Humboldt Composite High School Mountain Bike Club (HCMTB) recently concluded the 2022 season at the NorCal Interscholastic Cycling League’s Championship Race in Lake County.

And numbers have never been higher.

“We had the most riders we ever had, so it was a really successful season,” team director Sean Robertson said.

The local club traveled for four events this spring, with 21 riders competing, including a few up-and-coming middle schoolers who gained some valuable experience.

Eureka High’s Maggie Odell followed in her older sister Elizabeth’s footsteps and enjoyed a hugely successful season, winning the regular season Redwood Region race leaders jersey in the JV Girls division.

“Her sister was another series leader and won a lot of races, so there’s something about the family,” Robertson said. “And they train hard and have been riding a long time, and those are important factors.”

Teammate Isaac Johnson also enjoyed a big spring competing in the JV Boys division and consistently placed among the leaders, while Malcolm Seeman, Aaron Shapiro and Hailey Kroeker each also impressed for the HCMTB.

“We had a lot of new riders and they all improved through the year,” Robertson said. 

The local club, now in its seventh year, features high schoolers from Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville and Northcoast Prep, as well as a lot of younger riders who have taken up the sport in recent years.

“It’s a composite team, so we draw kids from all over the county,” said Robertson, who had 25 middle schoolers on hand this spring, including six who traveled regularly to compete.

And the reason for the growing popularity of the sport is twofold.

“We saw a big boost from COVID because it was one of the few sports activities kids could do outside,” Robertson said. “And with the development of more trails (locally), there’s a lot more kids out there. When I’m riding the trails myself, I see more kids out there.”

The next season begins in October, but Robertson expects some of his riders to compete in a number of races over the summer months, including events in Weaverville, Mt. Shasta and in Oregon.

The HCMTB middle school boys at a race earlier this season.

At the season-ending league championships, Seeman, Shapiro, Lane Corse and Daniel Shaver all competed in a field of 72 riders in the JV boys race.

Shapiro led the way and placed 22nd, followed by Seeman in 38th in his final high school race.

Shaver placed 53rd.

In the JV girls event, Odell, Hailey Kroeker and Camille Shaver all competed in a field of 52 racers.  

After an early setback when she was thrown into a fence in the starting corridor, Odell fought her way back up from 20th to place ninth, while Kroeker finished 17th and Shaver in 47th.

Sierra Paliaga led the way for the HCMTB in the Sophomore girls race and placed 18th, followed by teammate Sasha Love in 21st.

The HCMBT high school girls.

In the Sophomore boys race, Brandon Stephens led the way for the local contingent and placed 48th, followed by teammate Nico Costanzo, who overcame some mechanical difficulties that had him doing trailside repairs to place 51st.

“We had a really great season,” Robertson said. “All the HCMTB riders should be proud of the progress they made through the year.”

The team director also praised the efforts of coaches Errin and Brenda Odell for “elevating our organization, training, and junior high development riding program this season. It’s been a tremendous benefit for our team.”

And while the team will graduate a couple of talented seniors, the future appears bright.

“We have a couple of good racers graduating this year, but we have some really talented young people coming up through the ranks,” Robertson said. “I’m really excited to see what the next couple of years bring and invite mountain bike enthusiasts to try out for the team. I would also like to thank all our amazing coaches, parents, supporters and sponsors, we couldn’t do this without you!”

Categories: mountain biking

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