By Bob York
When Deerfield Academy’s cycling program turned three this spring, the guests of honor didn’t need any training wheels to make it to the party.
They haven’t been around long, to be sure, but these new kids on the block have made the most of their trips around New England’s highways and byways. After finishing third in the Class A competition of the New England Prep School Cycling League during its first year of competition, the Big Green earned a second-place showing last spring. This season, Deerfield made it back to the podium for the third straight year as it pedaled home with another silver medal stashed away in its saddlebag.
And the only thing—other than a gold medal—that could have possibly made coach Rich Calhoun any happier was the fact that there were more kids around this year to help blow out the candles on that birthday cake. “We went from 10 to 13 boys this year and we now also have four girls on the team … so we’re growing,” said Calhoun.
The schedule, on the other hand, shrank this spring, as three of Deerfield’s seven meets were cancelled. One cancellation was due to lightning, another to a snowstorm. The third, meanwhile, which was scheduled to take place at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., was called off when rain storms combined with oil, which had been deposited along the race track’s surface by an array of race cars, caused the track’s surface to become slick “and made it too dangerous for the riders to race,” said Calhoun. So, the Big Green had to make up for lost time.
And with Rhys Louis ’12 leading the way, it did just that. Louis turned the abbreviated four-race schedule into a first-place finish in the final individual standings, while the Big Green finished second as a team. It made the podium, looking up at only Andover in the final team standings that featured a field of 19.
Calhoun has been blessed with some outstanding riders in the program’s three years. Tom Burrow, who is now competing at MIT, was the pace setter for the first two years. And now, it’s Louis’ turn. Louis, who won this year’s Coaches’ Award and who has been named next year’s team captain, showed, as a junior, that he’s already able to hold his own on the collegiate level. During an invitational meet early in the spring at Dartmouth College, he not only competed, but finished 20th out of a field of 350 collegiate cyclists.
And make no mistake, Calhoun isn’t anticipating any U-turns by his riders next spring. He’s looking for a fourth straight strong showing, as Louis returns and certainly should be the preseason favorite, considering “he’s the only non-senior to finish in the top five this year,” according to Calhoun.
Deerfield opened the campaign with a 5.4-mile trek at Mt. Killington, which featured a 1,000-foot climb, and Louis, as he did all season, led the team with a second-place finish in 23:24. Nolan Bishop ’11 and Brad Marshall ’12 wound up 15th and 16th respectively, while Chandler Cain ’11 wound up 18th.
“After having our first two meets cancelled, this was a tough way to open the season, not only for us, but for the other 18 teams in the league as well,” said Calhoun. “Some spots in the race were so steep many of the bikers had to dismount and push their bikes to the top of the inclines.”
Louis led the entire pack at the Exeter time trials, as he posted a winning time of 20:45 over the 10-mile route. The Big Green finished the day by placing five of its bikers in the top 20. Bishop was 11th, while Cain was 12th. Arden Arnold ’12 wound up 15th and Marshall was 19th.
New Hampton School hosted the third race of the season, a 24-mile trek, “with a steep 700-foot climb at the end,” according to Calhoun.
Despite the challenging course, Louis posted a second-place finish, just 21 seconds off the winning time of 1:06.53. And, as usual Deerfield had a number of point producers in the field. Marshall finished 14th, while Bishop was 17th. Arnold came in 24th, and Cain was 25th.
In the finale, which took place at Newfound Lake in N.H., Louis finished up first, and the blue-ribbon performance allowed him to finish atop the final individual standings—and the Big Green to finish second in the final team standings. Helping out were Marshall, Bishop and Cain, who all wound up with top-25 finishes.
Bob York is a Greenfield Recorder wire editor. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.