Temescal Canyon Cycling Team off to a great start


Senior rider Vincent Huggins

The Temescal Canyon High School (TCHS) Cycling Team took a 2nd place podium finish in their classification during their first event of the 2017 season, the Lake Perris Beaches to Boulders race. Sophomore and Canyon Lake resident, Kenny Thomas, took 4th place in his category.

2017 marks the 4th year that Temescal Canyon High School’s Titan Cycling Team will be competing in the SoCal High School Cycling League. The team races cross country mountain bikes in a series of competitive events throughout southern California from February to May. Students begin training in December.

During the 2016 season, the Titans had four top-5 finishes earning 4th overall in the SoCal League and 11th in the state. They accomplished this without the added points of having a varsity rider.

Eight of the 11 students who make up this year’s team are Canyon Lake residents. They are: Vincent Huggins, Wesley Toups, Ian Sirrs, Casey MacDonald, Jade West, Kenny Thomas, Ethan Clark and Austin Moreno.

The TCHS Cycling Team is coached by TCHS teachers Robert and Kathy Parks. The duo are responsible for assembling the first official Mountain Biking Club within the Lake Elsinore Unified School District. Robert is in his 15th year teaching Engineering at the school,  Kathy is in her 17th year teaching Health. The pair met at the school and married 10 years ago.

Early in the 2016 season, Robert and Kathy Parks were awarded the National Coaches of the Year by NICA. They received their awards at a ceremony in Berkeley, which was attended by Olympic athletes, presidents of some of cycling’s largest companies and many other supporters of high school cycling in America.

Founded in 2009, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA ) develops interscholastic mountain biking programs for student-athletes across the United States. NICA provides leadership, services and governance for regional leagues to produce quality mountain bike events, and supports every student-athlete in the development of strong body, strong mind and strong character through interscholastic cycling.

NICA oversees the 19 state leagues throughout the country. TCHS competes in the SoCal league which is comprised of students living south of San Luis Obispo. During the 2016 season, 1,005 students competed in the league. NICA and the SoCal league are reflective of CIF which governs traditional high school sports.

Students race in classes depending on their grade level. Freshman race freshman, sophomores race sophomores. Junior Varsity is composed of both juniors and seniors. Varsity riders are not chosen by the coaches; they must qualify for the field based on their previous year’s results. This very elite field takes only the top 15 percent of all riders.

Races range from 12 to 25 miles in length, depending on the class the students are competing in. The courses emphasize physical endurance and bike handling skills.  Successful competitors excel at climbing.

Female competitors race on the same course as male racers with the only change being in the number of laps they ride. Female riders are a key component to a successful team due to scoring rules.

The Titans compete as a Division 2 team, meaning they can have no more than 11 students on the team. Division 1 teams include more than 12 students with no limit on their size.

Titan Cycling members train 3 to 4 days a week with the team but most students put in additional time for training. It is not uncommon for team members to ride over 300 miles in a week. Students also receive lessons on proper nutrition to fuel their bodies during the race season.

The team regularly practices at the Santa Rosa Plateau in Murrieta, on the North Gate trails outside Canyon Lake and at Indian Truck Trail in Corona. They also travel to many other locations for training as well.

Although not considered a “traditional” sport at Temescal Canyon, Robert says the team has been embraced by the campus being recognized at pep rallies, on the weekly Titan TV program and in the yearbook. Students can also earn a varsity letter for their efforts just like any other athlete on campus. At this time, they do not receive PE credit for participating on the team which is something Robert and Kathy hope to change in the future.

Robert says, “Some of the greatest praise given by the students includes the comradery of the team, the feeling of family on the team, the pride they feel for competing well during the extremely challenging races and the personal attention Kathy and I give them.”

Academic performance is stressed by the team in addition to success on the race course. Seven of the 11 team riders earned a 4.0 GPA or higher in 2016. The team was led in the second semester by senior Jared Cheng who earned a 4.667GPA and now attends college at University California, Davis.

The 2017 team roster is made up of 11 students. They are:

Canyon Laker Vincent Huggins – Senior – Varsity

Jenessa Sanchez – Senior – Varsity

Canyon Laker Wesley Toups – Senior – Varsity

Canyon Laker Ian Sirrs – Junior – JV

Canyon Laker Casey MacDonald – Junior – JV

River Pellerin – Junior – JV

Canyon Laker Jade West – Junior – JV

Canyon Lake Kenny Thomas – Sophomore

Steven Iosbaker – Sophomore

Canyon Laker Ethan Clark – Sophomore

Canyon Laker Austin Moreno – Freshman

The team will be competing at the 5 SoCal League events and the state championships in NorCal. The team schedule is as follows:

February 19 – Lake Perris State Recreation Area

March 5 – Vail Lake, Temecula

March 26 – Keyesville, Kern River

April 9 – Vail Lake, Temecula

April 30 – SoCal Finals, Tehachapi

May 14 – State Championships, Petaluma

The team receives no financial support from the school. Students must provide their own bikes, equipment, uniforms and transportation to practices and events. Subsequently, the team is looking for individuals and companies who would like to support the team with donations. Donors can give a monetary donation to the team through the school and receive a tax deduction. Another option is to purchase needed equipment and supplies through donations or scholarships.

For more information about Temescal Canyon High School’s Titan Cycling Team, or to inquire about support the team, contact Robert and Kathy Parks at titan.cycling@leusd.k12.ca.us.