Six Sigma Showdown / Conference Championships May 12, 2019
The Albany High School Cougars MTB Racing Team entered the final race of the regular season with the goal of claiming a team trophy, having won the Division 2 HS award at 3 of the 4 races to date. Returning to the Six Sigma Ranch & Winery for the second weekend in a row, the Cougar riders faced a brand-new course opened just in time for the Conference Championship. At about 6 miles overall with 700 feet of climbing per lap, the new course was longer with more passing opportunities than the original course.
The day dawned bright and clear, and all the Albany riders took the opportunity to pre-ride the course and reported back that the course was fun but still very bumpy and there were a lot of corners with loose dirt that would likely cause some spills.
4 Albany riders lined up for the opening wave of races, with Angie Parafina first out of the gate. Angie overcame last-minute mechanical issues by borrowing team captain Alexa Albert’s bike for the 3 lap Varsity race. Riding an unfamiliar hardtail on a bumpy track didn’t faze Angie as the sun relentlessly pushed the mercury up towards forecast highs in the upper 80’s, she stayed hydrated and rode steadily for almost 2 hours to finish 9th on the day. Cougars Allison Marten and Maisie Long were second out of the starting gate in the JV Girls category. Allison stayed just behind the lead group and finished strongly to claim 3rd on the day, with Maisie cranking her way into 20th. In the Sophomore category first year racer Artemisia Matera pushed herself hard and was rewarded with a medal and 5th place podium finish.
2 Albany riders lined up in the Sophomore Boys Division 2 category for the second wave of the day. The presence of Cougar racer Mateus “Cube Guy” Goncalves de Lima generated quite a buzz. Many in the crowd had witnessed his performance in the Norcal talent show the night before doing one-handed pushups while solving a Rubik’s cube. Mateus still had some reserve strength to tap into even after doing 20 one-handed pushups, he was able to pick off riders on the second lap to move up four spots and finish 28th. Teammate Lincoln Chapman got boxed out at the start and slipped back to tenth place heading into the first climb. Overcoming drag from faulty rear brakes he steadily closed gaps to end up 5th on the day and earn a place on the podium.
Milan Ferus-Comelo faced 3 long laps in the brutal heat as the third wave of the day got underway. He completed lap 1 at the 33-minute mark at a slightly slower pace than normal. On his second lap the dust and heat were causing breathing problems, but a quick stop to use an inhaler relieved the congestion enough that he could push on and maintain his record of finishing all his races this year.
At the awards ceremony the Albany Cougars MTB Racing Team celebrated a first ever team championship by hoisting the Division 2 High School team trophy. Individual season highlights for Albany included a 3rd place on the year for Allison Marten in the JV Girls category and a 3rd place on the year for Lincoln Chapman in the Sophomore Boys category. Congratulations to all the riders and to head coach Dana Albert and many assistant coaches who made this season so successful.
AHS Cougar riders, coaches and parents also send a big thank-you to the sponsors whose support enables our MTB Racing Team to compete, including Albany Subaru, Trek Bicycle Berkeley, Velocity Lock & Key, Mechanics Bank, Benchmark Pizzeria, Precision People’s Car Repair, Ice Chamber, Steve’s Auto Care, Bicycle Trails Council East Bay, RC Imports, Little Star Pizza, McNally Realty Advisors, and the Albany Rotary Club