High school sports. When you hear that term what do you think? Football, baseball, basketball, track, and volleyball? How about wrestling, tennis, swimming, and lacrosse? Soccer anyone? Well, if some folks out there get their way, you’ll be adding mountain biking to this list….maybe at the top of it, depending on where you live. In fact, in Northern California, high school mountain biking is really taking root.

Back in 2001, a man with a vision for a high school mountain bike league started a team at Berkley High. His name is Matt Fritzinger. His team needed competition, and several surrounding high schoolers came to compete in semi-organized teams. Now the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League boasts over two dozen organized high school cycling teams that compete in events, attend skills camps, and learn how cycling can lead to a life-long love for cycling that will benefit their health, raise awareness of their environment, and promote healthy relationships with others.

One of the newest teams formed in the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League is the Trojan High School Mountain Bike Team headed up by Coach Mark Ferry. Coach Ferry sent us the following story detailing the teams beginnings and recent successes. And check this out, out of the 14 riders he has on the Trojan team, 13 are riding 29 inch wheeled bikes. But before we get into that, check out the following story………

TROJAN MOUNTAIN BIKE RACERS WIN MEDALS IN LEAGUE OPENER
First Race for Newly Formed Team

March 8, 2010 – Eleven of the fourteen Oak Ridge High School student athletes participated in the Central Coast Invitational mountain bike race held in Monterey, CA over the weekend, with three Trojans earning medals for their winning efforts in their first-ever interscholastic bike race. Racing as the “Trojans High School Mountain Mountain Bike Composite Team”, which is not officially recognized by Oak Ridge High School, Maren Cosens took 1st place in the Junior Varsity girls division, Cody Kaiser earned 3rd place in the Varsity boys division, and Kyle Beasy grabbed 5th place in the Junior Varsity boys division.

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Some members of the Trojan High School Mountain Bike Team (L to R) Parker Eide (sophomore), Brendan Worsley (sophomore), Matt Decker (sophomore), Scott Derksen (assistant coach), Mark Ferry (coach), Maren Cosens (Junior), Amie Ferry (assistant coach), Coach Ferry’s children (McKenzie and Taylor), to the right of Amie is Reid Lionakis (Senior), Doug Cosens (proud father of Maren) photographer: Mark Taylor

This season opening race, which kicked-off the NorCal High School Cycling League’s 9th season, featured nearly 500 racers representing more than 40 high schools across Northern California. It was the first time the Trojan cyclists were able to see how they measured up against other high school racers in the region.

“It was a really exciting and fun experience,” said Cosens after beating her field of 32 girls by nearly one minute on the 12 mile, JV cross-country course. “I learned a lot during the race that will help me prepare for the rest of the season.”

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Maren Cosens powers her way to a first place in the Junior Varsity Girls division aboard her Fisher Mamba 29″er.(photo:Mark Ferry)

Cosens, who also runs cross country and track for ORHS, had never ridden a mountain bike until early December 2009. She credits her cross-training and coaching for her early season success. “Our coaches have been great,” said Cosens. “They have helped me with my bike skills a lot and they make the club fun.”

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Kyle Beasy drops in on his Sette 29″er in the first NorCal High School Cycling League event of 2010.(photo: Wayne Shen)

The Trojans Mountain Bike Club was formed in the Fall of 2009 under the guidance of El Dorado Hills resident, Mark Ferry, who saw the opportunity to involve more youth in a sport he’s been passionate about for more than 25 years. “Our team is really coming along great and Sunday’s race shows we are off to a fantastic start,” said Ferry. “It’s very rewarding to see each of these kids excel in both skill and dedication in such a short period of time. We are hopeful that the high school district will recognize our self-funded mountain bike club in the coming season.”

Scott Folwarkow, father of Freshman racer Dan Folwarkow and JV racer Rick Folwarkow agrees with Ferry. “This was an eye-opening weekend,” said the proud father. “I saw high school teams with 50+ riders. I think that’s more than some football programs. The enthusiasm these kids have for mountain bike racing is contagious; my Freshman son is really excited about the team and being able to race the next few years for his high school.”

The Trojans will be back in action again on March 21st as the second race of the high school series heads to their home track in Granite Bay. The Trojan High School Mountain Bike Team goes into this event as the #1 ranked team in Division 2.

To learn more about the Trojans mountain bike club, go to www.trojanmtbracing.com.

Twenty Nine Inches asked Coach Ferry why so many of his Trojan mountain bikers were riding 29″ers. He had the following answer: ” I think it was two things, myself and one of my assistant coaches (who is fast) Tom Hartman (Stumpjumper 29) ride 29ers and the kids know who is winning and when they see the top racers winning on 29ers their decision is made. Kids are smart and they want every technical advantage they can get.” Coach Ferry rides a Santa Cruz Tall Boy. You can find his thoughts on that bike in our post here.

We can’t help but think that not only will this sort of sport catch on in more places across the nation, but that it will end up being beneficial to these youths health and well being far beyond their high school years. It can’t hurt the prospects for future American mountain bikers to be more competitive internationally either if mountain biking as a sport becomes more prevalent at the high school level. Finally, we will be interested to see how this will affect racing and 29′ers in the years to come, especially if 29″ers prove to be as successful in high school mountain biking as the Trojan High School Mountain Bike Team are showing them to be.

Twenty Nine Inches would like to thank Coach Mark Ferry for contributing to this post. Good luck on the rest of your season!