Along with the more mainstream high school sports, some schools in Southern California also take part in sports that are a bit more specialized.
In the state, there are schools that field lacrosse, equestrian, gymnastics and even surfing squads.
There is a group of athletes from Burroughs High that has fielded a team to compete in one of those fringe sports. Today, the Indians mountain biking team will take to the course for its first competition of the season.
“We have seven riders registered for the first race, and that’s not bad at all this being our first year,” Burroughs Coach Mauricio Barba said. “The guys have been working out very hard to get prepared for the season … we’re looking forward to it.”
That race is the Vail Lake Challenge, which will take part at Vail Lake in Temecula. The race is one of five sanctioned events during the season.
Teams in the competition will take part in either Division I or Division II varsity, junior varsity and sophomore-freshmen races. Because Burroughs is a first-year program, it is prohibited from racing on the varsity level for its first season.
The riders compete on a cross-country mountain biking course that can include steep climbs, rough terrain and bumpy roads.
“The freshmen riders will be going two laps, which is about 12 miles, however most of the teams will be actually doing 18 miles,” Barba said. “In this race there is about 500 feet of climbing for one lap, so over three laps they will be doing over 1,500 feet of climbing. It’s pretty challenging.”
Barba said none of his athletes have ridden competitively before, and this will be their first taste of a big race.
“Some of them heard about us starting a team and they went out and got dirt bikes for their birthday or for Christmas,” Barba said. “They just wanted to be a part of the team.”
The Indians have co-captains in senior Stephen Dela Cruz and sophomore Angelique Margve.
“We’re all kind of excited and nervous, this being our first race,” said Dela Cruz, who said he has been cycling for a year. “We’ve been training hard for this day. We have an awesome team and they have taken it to the next level.”
The events are part of the SoCal High School Cycling League — governed by the National Interscholastic Cycling Assn. — which was organized in 2008 to provide a well-defined race season for high school student, as well as promote the formation of teams at public and private high schools.
The league was started in Southern California after the sport began to take off in Northern California. In 2010, more than 600 athletes took part in leagues in Northern California. Several League alumni athletes from Northern California leagues are now racing on professional teams at events like the Tour of California.
“The goal is that by the year 2020 they want to have leagues across the country,” Barba said.
There will be a state championship this season that will bring together the top riders from the two regions.
Within the area, Crescenta Valley and St. Francis also has a mountain biking teams.