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Three straight provincial mountain bike titles for Pemberton Secondary School

Rebecca Beaton, Isla Inglis and Patrick Tarling led their team in Squamish

Chalk up a third consecutive B.C. High School Mountain Bike Championship for Pemberton Secondary (PSS), which continues to punch above its weight class despite being one of the smallest schools in the field.

Rebecca Beaton struck gold at the Provincial senior girls' enduro by clocking 12 minutes and 23.50 seconds while her teammate Isla Inglis put down a fifth-place result (13:00.50). 

Patrick Tarling likewise finished fifth among senior boys in Squamish (10:52.90), mirroring Emily Wilson's effort in the junior girls race (12:58.40). 

Tarling did manage to secure bronze in cross-country (45:52.20), as did Inglis (1:02:39.30) while Beaton ended up fourth (1:03:08.90). 

“It's huge for the kids, especially the seniors that are going out on a bit of a swan song,” said first-year head coach Kevin Glavas. “They’ve always created a contagious energy [around mountain biking]. The banner is awesome. I think it gives them a huge sense of pride and showcases the fact that there's a lot of really talented kids here, especially on the girls' side.”

‘We’re shocked again’

New rules limited the number of athletes that each school could bring to Provincials, and PSS was allowed to field 30 riders—leaving over 20 more on the outside looking in. Why were these changes implemented? Squamish is more accessible to Lower Mainlanders than the tournament’s previous hosts in Langford and Rossland, creating a surge in registration.

Pemberton’s provincial team was assembled from the ranks of top point-getters in the North Shore Mountain Bike Series. 

"Three years ago when we won [our first banner], that was a huge deal because it was so unexpected," recalls Beaton. "This year, we weren't really sure how things were going to go. We kind of expected that we weren't going to win because we just couldn't have as many we're shocked again." 

Sam Tierney, whose best placing was 11th in senior boys' enduro, feels that healthy group dynamics went a long way towards securing victory.

"Provincials is one of the few instances in mountain biking where everyone really works together as a team," he said. "I think [this banner] really exemplifies how we have a solid team all around. It represents how much of a biking-focused community we are that we can come out and win three in a row.

“The coordination and teamwork of everybody involved [was on point]. Our coaches are great, staff from the school helped manage and they were great. Everyone really came together and did their best." 

Glavas certainly helped make the wheels turn, pun intended. The local parent stepped up after various other commitments dragged former coach Nicole Jean away from the PSS bike program. In addition to being a lifelong hockey player, Glavas has participated in numerous races himself and brings a holistic approach to this new role. 

The keyword here is “fun”. Athletes often end up riding faster and more safely when they’re enjoying themselves, while an excess of pressure—especially on youth—may obstruct positive skill development.

Glavas feels that he and other local parent volunteers mainly do grunt work in support of the bike team. They organize practices, manage logistics, ensure that their kids are hydrated and fed, and offer bits of advice…but it’s the riders who put in the legwork. 

“You'd be surprised at how adaptable and supportive all the kids are to each other,” Glavas said. “Leading up to Provincials, they were riding with us two days a week and most were riding four to five days a week by themselves.” 

PSS students had heaps of praise for their new coach. 

“Kevin’s the GOAT,” Tarling quipped. “He killed it. We missed Ms. Jean, our old coach, but we couldn’t have done it without Kevin, for sure. He did a lot of [mechanical work] too, and he’s really just a man of many talents.” 

Adds Tierney: “I can only ever say good things about [Coach Glavas]. He always did a good job managing the team, keeping spirits high and making sure everyone was motivated. If you came to him with a problem, he always knew how to solve it.” 

Keeping things interesting

Three-peats are rare in sport. The last major professional franchise to earn one in North America are the Los Angeles Lakers, which won NBA titles from 2000 to 2002. It may sound weird to put “Pemberton” and “dynasty” in the same sentence, but that’s how dominant Spud Valley’s young mountain bikers have been in recent memory. 

It’s not easy to acquire both the high fitness demands of cross-country riding and the technicality of enduro, but the depth of the PSS team buoyed it to victory. Most athletes finished within the top 10 of any given event and displayed consistency all year long.

Girls contributed their fair share to the success. 

“Our team is really unique in that we have a really strong group of girls,” Beaton remarked. “That's something that a lot of other schools don't have, and most we see are super male-dominant. It means a lot to me personally to see that many girls having fun and doing so well.” 

Glavas believes that a rising tide lifts all boats. He’s seen more overall participation this year from other Sea to Sky schools, including Whistler Secondary (WSS) who grabbed North Shore banners for their Grade 8 boys and Grade 8/9 girls. 

It’s the end of the line for Beaton, Tarling and their fellow seniors, but others like Tierney and Inglis are poised to carry the torch next year. If PSS does lock down a fourth straight banner, they would replicate the dominance of the NHL’s New York Islanders (1980-1983) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners softball team (2021-2024). 

Beaton would love to see it, but she isn’t getting too carried away. 

“I'm of course sad that I won't be there next year, but I feel really confident that there's so many other kids that we as seniors have been able to support and encourage,” she said. “They’re going to come up and just fill our shoes, and it's going to be another amazing year.

“But at the same time, I feel like we could give another school a turn. We’ve got to keep things interesting.” 

Full enduro results are available here, and cross-country here.

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