Seventh grader wants to bring a new sport to BEA
It is no secret that Faribault County sits on some of the flattest land in Minnesota. When looking toward the horizon, one can see landmarks, fields and even other towns that are several miles away.
However, Brady Olsen, son of David and Suzie Olsen of Blue Earth, does not let an excess of flat land deter him from practicing his newest favorite hobby mountain biking.
Brady is a member of the Mankato High School Cycling Team in Mankato.
The team is only one of 38 other registered groups that make up the Minnesota High School Cycling League, which began in 2012.
Last fall, Brady competed alongside students from Mankato West, Mankato East and Loyola on the junior high cycling team.
“They didn’t have enough riders between the three schools, so they opened it up to kids in the surrounding area,” says David Olsen in regards to his son being the only Blue Earth Area student in the Mankato cycling group.
Despite the low enrollment rate for students in both Mankato and Blue Earth, David claims that there are more than 500 riders in the state who are in grades seven through 12.
Among those enrolled, riders are categorized into five different groups to determine scoring: seventh and eighth grade students score together; ninth graders score as a group; 10th graders score as a group; and 11th and 12th grade students score together in either the JV category or the varsity category, depending on individual skill and experience.
Brady, who scored as a seventh grader for the 2014 season, plans to petition up to compete in the ninth grade category.
“I have a friend who is moving up to ninth grade scoring,” he explains. “We rode really good together and I want to keep riding with him.”
According to David, his son has met all of the requirements to be able to petition up.
In terms of individual scores, Brady took home a second place, a fourth place and a seventh place medal.
As a team, the Mankato Mountain Bike Team placed 4th out of 21 teams overall.
Because he placed among the top 10 riders in three of the season’s five races, Brady is able to petition to ride at a higher level.
“You always want to place in the top 10 overall,” he explains.?”You only get a call to compete if you’re in the top 10.”
The Minnesota High School Cycling League chooses only the top 10 riders from each category to compete in the next race.
Therefore, when the young rider did not place in the top 10 after the first few races, instead of growing hopeless, he trained even harder.
In fact, during his race at Buck Hill in Burnsville, he wound up in 19th place after the chain fell off of his bike.
“I?had about a half a mile left,” Brady says. “I?couldn’t get the chain back on and I was losing time.”
So, rather than call it quits, Brady ran across the finish line, a half mile ahead, while carrying his mountain bike.
“It really shows your character when you do something like that,” says David. “He didn’t have to cross the line, but he was determined to finish.”
Brady is also determined to spread the word about his latest passion in order to recruit some of his Blue Earth Area classmates to the team.
“I know of one guy who is interested,” he says. “But there is no where to practice around here.”
Later, David added that if enough students at BEA expressed interest, Faribault County could have it’s own mountain biking team.
Bent on sharing his new hobby with his friends, Brady Olsen began building his own mountain bike path on the Olsen family farm.
The seventh grader is in the process of building a quarter mile bike loop that runs through the grove.
The loop, complete with roots, switchbacks and obstacles, is composed entirely of elemental materials such as logs, exposed roots, mud and dirt.
“By next summer, I hope it will be about a mile loop,” Brady says, grinning. “It will take up the entire grove.”
With full permission from his parents, the Olsens hope that perhaps the new practice ground will encourage other BEA riders to join the team next fall.