MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - “Every kid cheers for every other kid. It doesn’t matter what team they’re on,” founding director and head coach of the Mankato Cycling Team Mike Busch said.
That’s not something you typically hear at a state final, in any sport.
But, for the Minnesota High School Cycling State Finale, it’s all about the chance to race on the most complex trail of the year, with every team in the state, while enjoying the experience.
“Really the big connections with the kids came when the bike became a secondary part of it and when that happens it’s really a neat feeling,” Busch said.
To successfully achieve that dynamic, league scoring is structured around being inclusive.
“The point is always to be inclusive and so that’s why we have co–ed scoring. That’s a big thing for us and so in order to have a successful team, you need to have female participation. But, the other thing we do with our scoring model is every single kid that races is counting towards their team. There are no bench warmers, there are no try–outs. Everyone is riding. Everyone is racing," executive director of the Minnesota High School Cycling League Josh Kleve said.
The Minnesota league is the second largest in the country, made up of students from more than 100 schools.
Since 2013, Mount Kato has hosted the finale, which is also the home of the Mankato Cycling team.
The Mankato team is made up of students from 15 different schools in the Greater Mankato Area.
“I know for me, I live about 45 minutes south of here, so I’m one of those people that gets to come to practice and meet people all around in Mankato that I would’ve never known,” biker and Blue Earth high school senior Brady Olsen said.
The team began in 2014 and since the team has seen great growth.
Coach Busch is helped alongside 15 other coaches.
“It’s so important, especially in a sport like this, that you can have that really small ratio – coach to student athlete ratio – and they get a lot of individualized attention,” Busch said.
The finale began on Saturday with the middle schoolers and concluded today with the varsity boys and girls.
The bike trail is spread across 4 miles of Mount Kato for 4 laps.
“They just rode out of their minds. And again, it’s individual, but it’s a team sport and a lot of the kids just turn themselves inside out, you know, for the team,” Busch said.
This year’s season is now one for the books and the league is eager to welcome in more talent for the upcoming season.
Visit minnesotamtb.org for more information.