BMX holds first-ever state race |

BMX holds first-ever state race

Darin Olde, Tribune staff writer
Jim GrantJim Severt, winner of the 28-and-over expert class, rises to the occasion during the first-ever state qualifier in South Lake Tahoe on Saturday

With Saturday’s race, the sport of BMX in South Lake Tahoe passed a major milestone in the eyes of racers with the American Bicycle Association.

South Lake Tahoe BMX held its first-ever state qualifier, which allowed racers an opportunity to earn points toward the NorCal state championship.

The first-of-a-kind event in South Lake Tahoe drew approximately 80 racers, about 30 more than and average district race, but not as many as race organizer John and Lauren Thomaselli expected.

Without state qualifiers in Marysville and South El Monte, which took place the day before and the day after, respectively, Lauren Thomaselli said they would have had some 50 more participants.

Matthew “Gunner” Lynch, 11, of South Lake Tahoe, raced against more riders than usual. He finished as runner-up behind Jack Lyle, also from South Lake Tahoe, in the intermediate division.

“I like having more competition,” he said. “It’s more challenging for me.”

Aaron Volle, 14, of Penryn, Calif., said he usually races in larger events, where the competition is stronger. Volle, who finished first in his division, is currently ranked 16th out of 67 riders in total points in Northern California.

“This is different from the others because it’s smaller,” he said, “but it’s fun.”

The smaller numbers didn’t keep Jim Sebert, 32, from Reno, and his son Michael, 11, from pushing the pedals just as hard.

“It’s always competitive. You have to stay on your feet and stay sharp. If you let up, they are right there to beat you,” he said. “One slip can move you from third to first.”

Racers were allowed at least two races before the main and final event in their age groups.

“Phew, man, I’m tired!” said Howard Cato, 34, of Oakland, after finishing first in his division.

Cato, and his 8-year-old son, Brandon, travel to state qualifiers to compete, and to spend time together. Howard is currently ranked eighth out of 29 riders in the 31 division.

One of the first things Howard noticed about the new state qualifier in Tahoe was the altitude.

“It’s great practice training for us, and it’s not hot,” he said. “You get a good break here. We like it.”

Riders are allowed three qualifier scores before the final championship in Roseville, Calif., on Sept. 15.

The four-score total determines the NorCal champion.

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