The St. Andrew's-Sewanee mountain biking team concluded its fall season over the weekend of November 10-11 with the Tennessee High School Cycling League State Championship race. The event was hosted by SAS, with 359 high school and middle school riders competing. Riders took advantage of a course pre-ride on Saturday to check the route and technical trail features, then participated in an entertaining co-ed relay on a short course before enjoying dinner and a senior slide show on campus. On Sunday, athletes raced distances ranging from 4 to 16 miles on the challenging course, navigating technical rock sections, several tight uphill switchbacks, and a long climb near the end of each lap.
SAS had thirty-one riders (6th through 12th grade) competing in the final race for 2018. Aidan Smith (3rd - varsity boys), Finn Michler (5th - JV boys), Zolon Knoll (5th - sophomore boys), and Gus Croom (8th - freshman boys) earned top ten finishes on Sunday. Other competitive finishes from SAS high school boys on Sunday included Evan Fox (15th – JV boys) and Eli Thompson (17th – freshman boys). Smith and Michler also finished the four-race season in 5th place overall in varsity and JV categories, respectively. Knoll earned 6th place for the season in the sophomore category while Croom earned 10th place in the freshman category.
The SAS middle school program was well-represented at the championship race with thirteen riders participating. Libby Neubauer pushed the competition hard in the 8th grade girls' category, finishing less than one minute behind the leader to earn 2nd place, with Madeline Sumpter earning 5th place. Sixth-grader Julia Sumpter completed the race lap with determination to earn 4th place in her category. Neubauer and Madeline Sumpter earned second and fourth place finishes, respectively, for the season race series, while Julia Sumpter landed a 5th place spot overall. Chris Moore had a strong showing in the sixth-grade boys' race, finishing in 7th place on Sunday and in 6th place for the season. Dylan Kiningham (14th), Huxley Hume-Allingham (15th), Caleb Palmertree (17th), and A.J. Clements (18th) also competed hard together on Sunday, crossing the finish line less than one minute apart on their home course.
SAS coaches Speed Baranco, Beth Pride Ford, and Michael Short are grateful to their SAS riders for representing the school and biking program with hard work and good sportsmanship throughout the season. They especially recognize and express their appreciation for volunteer coaches Jill Mollica, Karen Singer, Barbara Fox, John Fox, Steve Holt, Alex Neubauer, Alex Krongard, and Pete Mollica, and for support from team families, the Sewanee community, SAS faculty and staff, and Woody's bike shop.
Because of efforts by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), mountain biking is becoming a popular sport across the country for kids in middle school and high school. Future growth for interscholastic mountain biking will require community awareness and participation, trail accessibility, and financial support from individuals and businesses. More information about how to support interscholastic mountain biking can be found on the national website, www.nationalmtb.org. Community members and local businesses interested in sponsoring the Tennessee league may also find information at www.tennesseemtb.org.