Piedmont Mountain Bike Team wraps up season at Six Sigma

Olive Reining, co-captain of the Piedmont High School Mountain Bike Team, at Six Sigma Championships

The Piedmont Mountain Bike Team, which includes High School club racing and a junior development (DEVO) middle school team, ended their final races over two weekends at Six Sigma Winery, a private ranch in Lower Lake, CA. Piedmont High School is part of the NICA NorCal League, East Bay/Central Region, which includes hundreds of teen mountain bikers from the East Bay, where Berkeley High School founded the national league and neighbors Marin, where mountain biking as a sport originated. 

The final races were held over two weekends, the fourth and final race of the regular season on Saturday, May 11, 2024 and the Norcal League High School Championships on Sunday May 19, 2024. Six Sigma Winery includes rolling and rocky terrain through oak trees around a meadow where teams camped. PHS MTB Head coaches, Jukka Valkonen and Eric Hsia, and Team Director Heidi Sawicki managed from the team pit alongside the parents that supported the racers.

The high school course lap for varsity riders was 16 miles with 2000 feet of vertical, JV 1 was 12 miles with 1500 feet of vertical, and JV 2 was 8 miles with 1000 feet of vertical. The weather was hot and the trails were dusty.

The 9 members of the Piedmont High School Team in Division 1 compete against eight other high schools, including much larger schools such as Berkeley High (73 members), Salinas High (27 members), and San Ramon Valley MTB Club (17 members). For the Championships, the East Bay/Central Region competes with the Redwood Repack Region, which includes racers from Marin, including Archie Williams High (San Anselmo) and Tamalpais High (Mill Valley), and racers from the foothills including Granite Bay High (Folsom), and Nevada Union (Nevada City).

Graduating seniors, varsity riders Mark Hsia, Max Rivera, co-captain Matteo Scanu, and Schuyler Sawicki completed a high school career of racing finishing in a close pack placing 23rd (1:13:40), 24th (1:13:54), 26th (1:14:22), and 28th (1:14:24) at the Six Sigma Slinger (race 4). They swapped some positions in the championships, making a great showing in the combined league race. They ended the season with Max Rivera in 38th (1:42:05), Matteo Scanu in 40th (1:43:14), Schuyler Sawicki in 43th (1:44:02), and Mark Hsia in 47th (1:45:33). Each looked like they gave it their all, which included plenty of dirt and sweat that are part of the perfect mountain bike post-race glow.

Junior and incoming team captain, Cary Ward had a very strong result placing 8th (55:20) in JV1 Boys D1 at the Six Sigma Slinger and 36th (1:20:45) in the Championship. Sophomore, Caleb Canada placed 29th (45:11)  in JV2 Boys D1 and 53rd (1:03:32). Sophomore, and co-captain Olive Reining placed 28th (1:01:40) in JV2 Girls and 37th (1:34:37). Freshman Henry Call rode his first race at Six Sigma but did not finish. Overall, Head Coach Jukka Valkonen remarked that this was a strong season with great improvement in fitness, mental toughness, and race readiness. 

Sophomore Jasper Schuetz completed his second season on the podium. Jasper battled Casey Warren from Berkeley High School all season and swapped the lead multiple times in their race. Going into race four, the two were tied for the Leader Jersey. Ultimately, the final sprint for the JV1 Boys D1 race ended with Warren in 1st (50:22) with Schuetz only 3 seconds behind in 2nd (50:25). This put Jasper Schuetz of Piedmont High School on the podium in second place with 530 points for the 2024 NiCa NorCal East Bay Central Region Season. At NorCal Championships, Schuetz was the top East Bay/Central Region rider on the JV1 podium, placing 4th (1:10:46), ending the race in a tight pack right behind Dylan Corteville of Redwood High School in 3rd (1:10:45) place finishers from Redwood Repack Region. This was a big move, in the largest field of the day, as the top finishers are national racers and some are on professional teams. Jasper Schuetz is also racing for the Specialized Sacramento Development Team.

The middle school Piedmont Devo team also raced at Six Sigma for the fourth race, supported by head coach Marisa Strong. The Junior Development Course was 6 miles with 700 feet of elevation gain. 8th grade girls went first with Josephine Schuetz placing 9th (39:29), Rose Reining placing 10th (40:28), Olivia Bailey placing 12th (44:25), and Mina Hergott placing 13th (44:40). 8th grade boys went next with Kai Hsu placing 58th (40:42) in his first race. 6th grade boys included a fantastic result for Carter Lew in 7th (31:21), a big improvement for Quincy Aguilar in 24th (36:58), and Laszlo Weber in 27th (37:19) for his first race. Head Coach Marisa Strong was very proud of her middle school riders, and feels confident that the 8th graders are going to be a great addition to next year’s High School Team.

Racing is only one part of the Piedmont Mountain Bike Teams. The teams also welcome those who prefer mountain biking as an adventure. With the racing season over, the team will be riding trails on their own, meeting up again in the Fall (October). Come meet the mountain bike team at the Piedmont 4th of July Parade. To learn more about the Piedmont High School or Junior Development Teams and how to join, see piedmontmtb.com/ and piedmontdevo.com.

Photos by Andrew Hergott Photos of Six Sigma.

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *