Competing against 885 other middle and high school racers, 13 student athletes from Laguna Beach participated in a recent race and four clinched spots on the podiums, including three first place finishes.
Only in their fourth season of racing, Laguna Beach Interscholastic Mountain Bike Team made a strong showing in the SoCal division of National Interscholastic Cycling Association at Lake Perris on Feb 24-25.
Thurston Middle School students, sister and brother Morgan and Dylan Zevnik, placed first and second in their respective divisions. “I got nervous when Morgan lost her lead on the first lap by going off course,” said Sharon Zevnik, the duo’s mother.
Dylan finished second in his first race ever.
Brady White, also a Thurston student in his first NICA race, placed first among 61 riders in the eighth-grade boy’s division.
Brandon Thede crossed the line first in the freshman field of 37 riders.
Finishing among the top 15 in their respective divisions were sophomore Dylan White and freshman Tasha Zentil.
“Team riders applied the drafting tactics we practiced this winter to use the wind to their advantage. They also crushed the paved climb thanks to weeks of hard work doing hill repeats. Lots of sand on the course also played to Laguna’s advantage as we often encounter sand when riding in Aliso, so the riders had no problem finding good lines and navigating the deep sand,” said coach Larissa Connors, a pro rider.
Four more races are scheduled this season. With the town’s mountain biking trails and coaches such as Connors and former MTB pro Mike Lee, riders learn not only how to race, but also trail stewardship and nature conservancy, says a statement. The team welcomes riders in grades 6-12. For more info: www.lagunabeachmtb.org.