Spending your day covered in mud and mushy peat is not to everyone's liking but, for diehard motocross riders, it is the greatest challenge of all.
Otumoetai College riders were covered in it from head to toe as they performed superbly as a team and individually at round two of the Hauraki Plains College Moto X Invitation Tournament held at Patetonga.
Otumoetai joined 18 others, including local Bay of Plenty schools such as Tauranga Boys and Tauranga Girls, among 170 competitors taking part, and it was Otumoetai College that were first overall in the total school points.
It was the first competitive motocross event the school has won and was a fitting finale to a much-improved year for the team.
The Hauraki Plains event was broken up into several classifications of Pro 250cc, Pro 125cc, Pro 85cc, Intermediate 250cc, Intermediate 125cc, Intermediate 85cc and 150cc, Girls All In, Beginners 85cc and 150cc, and Beginners 125cc & 250cc.
The classifications were grouped into categories ranging from beginner to pro, to keep the race schedule manageable, with points awarded based on lap times and scoring based on the accumulated points.
The overall school score was based on the total accumulated points by all team riders, so it meant every competitor's performance mattered.
With tarps up, bikes prepped, and riders geared up, each category had a single practice session and then the battles began. The weather was a real mixture, ranging from overcast skies, violent downpours, and blue skies. Sheets of rain came down during a few races, turning the track into a slippery mudpit and making it challenging not only for the riders, but also for the announcer and audience to determine who the riders were once they became covered in peat.
Otumoetai College had 10 competitive riders represented in six of the classes. All riders put in strong performances despite the weather, with half the team claiming podium finishes which reflected how the riders' skills have developed this year.
There were plenty of outstanding individual performances on show.
Cameron McCaskie was first overall in the Pro 250cc and Matt Kenyon was first overall in the Pro 125cc. Evan Hawkless came third overall in the Pro 125cc. There was great excitement for Brad Holmes, second overall in the Intermediate 250cc, and Matt Nielson, second overall in the Beginners 85cc and 150cc - their first podium finishes in a school race.
It was not just about the podium finishers though, as there were several other meritorious results in the difficult conditions.
Tristan Tolley was sixth overall in the 250cc Intermediate, Adam Greenslade came 24th and Cameron Farley 21st in the 125cc Intermediate. Jaden Rodgers was sixth in the Beginners 125cc & 250cc, while Chris Pederson placed 13th overall in the practice timed laps but was restricted from points because of his bike classification.
Matt Kenyon set the fastest lap time of the day and was awarded "Fastest Rider of the Day"and Cameron McCaskie came in third overall on lap times. It was a huge achievement for Adam Greenslade to be recognised as the "Most Appreciated Person" by Amanda Fitzpatrick from the Hauraki Plans MX team, for his complimentary and supportive comments on Facebook prior to the event. She said it was so welcoming in the midst of all the queries and requests for information to receive a Facebook message that read: "Hows the weather for tomorrow? ;) So amped! Thank you once again from me and the OTC team!"
She said it made it all worthwhile for her to see the excitement and enthusiasm.
Otumoetai College coach Cliff Tolley said it was gratifying to see the team come together and to witness the improvements all of the riders have made over the last year.
"I was not only proud of all of our riders for their stellar performances, but also that our team was recognised for showing respect and gratitude to the organisers and officials. That was like a double win as far as I'm concerned. I would like to also recognise the team members, Christina, Margaux, and Stefan that came out to help their fellow teammates even though they weren't riding, from sharing riding gear to helping with cleaning mud off equipment.
"It was real team spirit. My gratitude goes to our team parents who support the sport and their kids, and special thanks to Eric Farley for the time and effort he's put in with our beginner and intermediate riders over the last four months.
"They have really progressed as a result of his investment. This year has been full of learning opportunities for our riders, our team, coaching, and team organisation, but it took all riding classes to get us here. We are really looking forward to progressing the team next year and growing recognition of the sport in the local schools."
The trophy Otumoetai College won was presented to principal Dave Randell and is proudly displayed in the school's trophy cabinet.