Merritt Secondary School places in top 20 per cent at mountain biking provincial championships.

On May 24, approximately 450 racers from 102 schools across B.C. went to Squamish to participate in the championship, with four of the competitors from Merritt.

According to MSS woodwork teacher and team sponsor Sam McKibbon, this is the first year that MSS has officially had a mountain biking team in over a decade.

“Being that this is the first year that the mountain bike club has run in quite a number of years, it’d be going back to Darren Coates who used to run a mountain biking program here at MSS, that would be more than a decade ago,” said McKibbon. “I was really proud of their performance and how they represented MSS.”

McKibbon started the mountain bike club during the pandemic however this is the first year McKibbon’s club has run as an official MSS team.

McKibbon attributes the team’s success to the students having experience in mountain biking prior to the competition.

“We’re just really focusing on a lot of these kids already have good mountain biking skills, and refining that with both fitness, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the downhill, enduro or XC discipline, fitness is a huge part of that,” said McKibbon. “And then refining the things that they already knew how to do naturally with some good coaching techniques.”

In preparation for the championship, the MSS mountain bike team would ride the trails around town every Tuesday for two hours MSS student Abigail Thoms placed 27th in the senior girls division. Thoms attributes her success in the enduro race to attending practices and staying calm during the competition, describing the competition as “a little nerve racking.”

“It was pretty muddy but I really like trying new trails and stuff and it’s definitely a different terrain in Squamish so it was nice to see what other places, other trails are like,” said Thoms.

For Thoms, her key takeaway from the competition was learning to get out of her comfort zone.

For McKibbon, his key takeaway from the competition is understanding how the sport is organized at the provincial level. “I would really love to bring a high school enduro series to Merritt,” said McKibbon. “I’m now talking to the race sponsors about bringing a race to Merritt, to showcase Merritt riders, Merritt trails, and to get exposure for us as a town because we are really growing in a significant way.”