Proctor’s Mountain Biking team hosted its first race of the season when more than 250 riders from nearly two dozen schools around New England descended upon the Proctor Ski Area Wednesday afternoon. Highlights of the afternoon included Scott Johannen ‘17 earning a podium finish for the Boys’ Class A division and Dani Xu ‘19 winning the Girls’ Class C division and Proctor winning the overall team win.
Over the past decade, the Northern New England Mountain Biking League has grown leaps and bounds. From its earliest phases as the brainchild of Bill Farrell (current Proctor coach Chris Farrell's father) and Chris Darling from Kennett HS in 1998 the league has come a long way. Proctor head coach Josh Norris became involved in the league in 2004, and has witnessed its evolution into the comprehensive mountain biking league serving high schools in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Norris notes, “Our main goal is to teach kids to be safe, competitive, and enthusiastic mountain bikers. Every year we strive to be as competitive as we can at the races, but more importantly to teach kids about how fitness, nutrition, and sleep can affect their performance on and off the bike. While we want the kids to find success on the race course, ultimately we want them to have fun and become life long advocates for the sport. I am so excited to watch mountain biking grow into a mainstream high school sport.”
Of the 250 riders at Wednesday’s race, 10% were Proctor riders. The enthusiasm of Proctor’s 25 riders, including eight ninth graders, was palpable before, during, and after the race. The excitement around the sport at Proctor continues to grow thanks in part to an incredibly dedicated coaching staff (Josh Norris ‘92, Jennifer Summers, Chris Farrell, and Chris Grotnes) who rides with the team daily around Proctor’s 2,500 acre campus.
One of Proctor’s strongest riders during his freshman and sophomore seasons, senior captain Scott Johannen (Chelmsford, MA) took the opportunity of a lifetime to study on Proctor’s Ocean Classroom program last fall. Returning for his senior season, he is both a leader for his team and for the sport of mountain biking in New England. Johannen notes, “Our team this year is the most motivated group of riders that we've had since I've been here. It seems like everyone on the team is super excited just to be on their bikes, and having so much fun learning how to get faster and stronger.”
Johannen was mentored by older riders during his first two seasons and now the roles are reversed and he is able to serve as an example for newcomers. He notes, “The team is now mostly comprised of relatively new riders who have never raced before and were very eager to compete against the hundreds of other kids in the C category. I’d like to see the team continue to dominate and take the season overall. I think this win could encourage our returning riders to continue to strive to improve their skills.”
With one race under their belts, Proctor’s Mountain Bike team is set to take on all the challenges that will come their way over the next eight weeks, including a new Enduro Race later in the season featuring downhill sections and a focus on endurance. Be sure to follow the team for updates throughout the season!