By Marty Gordon
Everyone knows Blacksburg High School for football and girls’ volleyball, and of course, the school’s prowess in the running sports. But did you know there is another sport that is taking the state by storm, and the Bruins are one of the top teams?
High School mountain biking is gaining steam, and this fall, Blacksburg High School’s team finished second overall and tops in all public schools. The Miller School of Albemarle finished as the top team and is considered state champion.
Laura Hamm is Blacksburg’s head coach. She said mountain biking is considered a club one as it is currently not an official Virginia High League sport.
Founded in 2009, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) develops interscholastic mountain biking programs for student-athletes across the United States. Virginia’s high school cycling team are part of the NICA with participants from middle school through high school.
The 2019 season was Blacksburg’s fourth year of existence with 27 bikers on the team. The squad rode in four statewide races and placed second in each individual race along and in the overall race series.
Hamm said there was no real state championship race. Instead, the overall title holder was determined from the combination of the four races.
The races are divided into different categories based on age and experience. Each of Blacksburg’s top finishers completed the race series in the top 5 in Virginia within their class.) The top four finishers were Cullen Herring – first place varsity boys; Alison Herring – fourth place varsity girls; Malayna Cherbaka – first place jayvee girls; Maggi Williams – third place sophomore girls; and Lucy Bowman – fifth place freshman girls.
“We will continue to race as a BHS club team in the NICA Virginia fall series,” Hamm said. “And we will begin holding some off-season rides in the spring. The team is open to anyone interested in mountain biking at BHS regardless of experience or skill level.”
The team practices at Pandapas Pond on the Poverty Creek Trails System and at the new Blacksburg Rotary Mountain Biking Skills Park.