Two riders on Desert Vista High School’s mountain bike team placed for state in their respective divisions to end the season.
Martin Fuller, a junior at Desert Vista, and Griffin Solle, a freshman, both represented the Thunder on the state podium at the fifth and final race of the Arizona Interscholastic Cycling League season on Nov. 2-3 at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park in Waddell.
Fuller, who competed in the JV2 Central Conference, placed first overall after ending the season with 1,996 points throughout the five races this season. Fuller beat out Cactus Shadows sophomore Alex Hernandez and Horizon sophomore Guy Randolph for the title.
Solle, who raced in the freshman Central Conference, finished the season fourth overall with 1,873 points. Solle, along with Fuller, were two of four racers representing Desert Vista on the podium in the final race.
Sam Monson, a junior, and Levi Shoemaker, a seventh-grader at Altadena Middle School racing with Desert Vista, were the two other podium placers for the Thunder.
“Griffin and Martin were both new to the team this year,” Desert Vista mountain bike coach Mike Dale said in an email. “Griffin has a background of successful road bike racing, while Martin has been an accomplished cross country runner. Both were able to participate in their first Mountain Bike Race with us and found success very quickly. It was simply awe-inspiring to see how hard they both worked this season.”
It’s Desert Vista’s seventh season competing in the AICL, which has 75 total teams taking part in the league, including Mountain Pointe and several others across the East Valley. The Thunder have grown each season, adding both boy and girl riders as young as the sixth grade. This year, Desert Vista was represented by 28 riders.
While some are experienced, others are competing for the first time. Dale believes this creates a balance on his team and thus, makes them come together to help each other learn.
“We take great care to help all of our riders develop their riding skills and endurance by breaking the riders up into smaller groups to focus on what they need,” Dale said. “At the start of the season, we work with each rider to assess their current state and create a plan for them to improve throughout the season.
“Anyone with a positive attitude, willingness to work hard and participate, will find an amazing community of riders and families to support them.”
Each rider is responsible for buying their own mountain bike and necessary equipment. The team has set up a support network to assist riders, however, so those looking to participate aren’t held back in any way.
The 2019 race schedule began on Sep. 7 in Flagstaff at the Fort Tuthill County Park. There was a two-week gap between each race, which took place in Prescott, Fort Huachuca, Fountain Hills and most recently, Waddell.
Out of his now three seasons coaching the team, Dale admits this season was the most memorable. Every week was filled with great competition from Desert Vista and other teams. But most importantly, the team had fun.
“We were able to introduce many new riders to the world of mountain biking and give them the base skills for a lifetime of fitness,” Dale said. “The race results and success were the icing on the cake. The supportive culture of this team is unique and very special.”
For more information on Desert Vista’s mountain bike team or the Arizona Interscholastic Cycling League, visit http://www.arizonamtb.org.