Hellbenders compete in first race

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Coach Dan Nuckols (top, left), Kevin Hayes, Elizabeth Bashlor, Coach Josh Edwards, Jean-Francois Suteau, Coach Clay Elkins Middle: Coach Sarah Elkins (left), Jean-Marc Suteau, Marie Suteau, Irie Beaver, Noah Edwards, Pierre Suteau, Bottom: Head Coach Max Hammer (left), and Tad Elkins. (Photo by Josh Edwards)

On Sunday, Sept. 1, the Greenbrier Valley Hellbenders Youth Mountain Bike Team competed in their first West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League race at Little Creek Park in South Charleston.

The Hellbenders are the newest of 13 teams across the state. Six student-athletes competed this weekend, all completing a challenging single-track course that included grueling climbs and technical terrain.

The team has been training under the guidance of head coach Max Hammer, assistant coaches Dan Nuckols, Sarah Elkins and Josh Edwards. Team director Clay Elkins also assists in coaching and manages the team’s state and national requirements.

“This was our first race, so we approached the weekend as a learning opportunity. I was just hoping all the kids would finish the course. Not only did they all finish, we had an astounding four kids on the podium. I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” says coach Max Hammer.

The West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League is a chapter of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). As one of 21 leagues across the country, WVICL organizes a mountain bike racing league for middle and high school student athletes. Above all, WVICL is a youth development organization, whose goal it is to build strong body, strong mind and strong character in our student athletes, with an unwavering focus on inclusivity and equality in everything we do.

The Greenbrier Valley Hellbenders Youth Mountain Bike Team is seeking new student athletes to join the team. Students in 6th through 12th grade are eligible to participate. Students are not required to race to be a member of the team. Practices are held on Thursday and Sunday evenings from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Greenbrier Valley State Forest. Parents should contact a coach before attending practice to learn more about necessary equipment.

For more information, email Sarah Elkins at sarah@sarahelkins.com or call Coach Max Hammer at 304-646-7409. Learn more about the WV league at www.westvirginiamtb.org and learn more about the local chapter by visiting the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HellbendersWV.