Last year, in his first year of coaching Tam’s mountain biking team, coach Paul Kundrat would go to races and notice that competing teams had something that his team didn’t — female riders.
“Going to races last year and seeing other schools with a full squad of girls simply had me scratching my head. I just didn’t understand why we couldn’t do that…Well I knew we could,” said Kundrat.
Kundrat proved to be right and this year, five female riders have joined the team. Although there have been girls in the past on the team, this is the first time that Tam has had enough female riders to field a full girls team.
The girls team consists of sophomores Amanda Moe, Lisa Martinez and Mae Puckett, junior Anna Lipman and senior captain Sophie McGuinness (McGuinness and Puckett are both Tam News staff). The female riders are led by new coach Christy Allen, who was brought in this year by head coach, Paul Kundrat.
“I hired an amazing coach for the girls, Christy Allen, who is an accomplished athlete herself with a coaching background… It was Christy’s charge to develop and foster the girls team and she’s done an amazing job. We now have five outstanding girls on the team who compete regularly,” said Kundrat.
Although the girls had little bike racing experience, many decided to join the team in order to try something new.
“I didn’t want to do swimming so I decided to join the team. I didn’t know other girls who did biking, but the team is great. It’s a great thing being with the other girls,” said McGuinness.
According to junior boy’s team captain, Spence Peterson, one of the team’s main goals going into the season was to get more girls to join and the team has already succeeded in that. As an added plus, team sponsor Jeff Jungsten, who owns a local construction company, followed through on a previous promise to double his support if enough girls joined the team. Jungsten’s support is incredibly important in helping cover team costs, according to Peterson. Because biking is considered a club sport, the team is responsible for raising all funds.
Despite having little experience, the female riders have performed well so far this season.
“They all [girls team members] have little cycling experience but have a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm for the sport. They’ve rode straight into the cycling culture and, within half a season, integrated themselves into the thick of the team. They are forging what will clearly be a groundbreaking season for the Tam High team,” said Kundrat.
In the Central Coast Classic race on March 18 in Fort Ord, Martinez placed ninth while Puckett placed eleventh in the sophomore girls division. At the April 1 Laguna Seca Grand Prix race in Monterey, Puckett placed eighth.
Male riders have also been performing well this season and the boys team hopes to continue the success that they had last season, which culminated in a tenth-place finish at the state championship race in Los Olivos. This year the team consists of many returning members, including senior co-captain Bob Siegel, junior co-captain Spence Peterson and juniors Dillon Charlton, Skyler Taylor, and Dominik Cinka, who all placed in the top 10 at state last year.