When thinking of school sports, the usual come to mind: football, basketball, and baseball. But there is another sport that is starting to gain some traction, and it has made its way into the high school ranks:
Both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools have club teams, and although it is not recognized by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, that doesn’t mean it is any less competitive.
The bikers race in a series of races put on by the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona, or MBAA. They are awarded points for their place in the finish. The racer with the most points at the end of the series wins the state title.
Ahwatukee residents Luke Brocco took home the title for the boys 9-11 age group and Kristen Kollus won second place in the women’s 15-18 age group.
“As parents we are super proud of the little man,” said Brocco’s father, Tom. “Being titled the state champion is quite an honor, and we keep telling him it’s OK to brag a little.”
The young champion had grown up around bike racing, starting at age 4 on the back of his parents’ bike. He played a few other sports before finding his passion.
“I just started riding, and then my dad signed me up for a race,” Brocco said.
In his first year of competitive racing, Brocco earned three first-place finishes, and finished in the top three in all six races.
He didn’t have much to say about his accomplishments, but he couldn’t say enough good things about the friends he made and the sportsmanship of his competition.
“I like that everyone is really nice. There’s only one kid that bullies us,” Brocco said.
His mom, Stacia, said there are even a few older kids who hang around and cheer the younger kids on to the finish.
Like Brocco, Kollus grew up around mountain biking and now she races for Mountain Pointe, and her father is her coach.
“I like my dad coaching me because he knows everything about me and he has really good tips, because he knows everything about mountain biking since he’s been doing it forever,” she said.
Kollus’ father, Bryon, used to race with Stacia Brocco as part of the Landis team. Now, both of their kids sport the Landis gear in their races.
“I really like it. It’s a great way to meet lots of new people and have your own team that you belong to,” Kollus said.
She didn’t have quite the same success as Brocco, but that didn’t stop her from making the most out of her season.
“I worked my way up to second overall and I had to really work for it. But I enjoyed racing all the girls,” Kollus said.
She added that she has to stay mentally confident in order to build upon her second-place finish this year to earn the state title in her junior year.
As for Brocco, he says he will keep riding and training as he enters middle school and on through high school.
“I look forward to racing in high school, especially for Coach Bryon,” he said.
• Will Argeros is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.