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Tony Cofrancesco is a young man of many talents and interests. The 14-year-old Havre de Grace High School freshman is highly involved with school and sports, especially the extreme sport of cross-country mountain biking.

Tony started bike racing about three years ago. When his dad broke his leg skiing, the family decided they needed an alternative sport and mountain biking aptly filled the void.

Cross-country mountain biking is an off-road extreme sport that takes place across 7.5. to 12 miles of rough and rugged terrain.

“There’s not really too many places to do down hill riding around here,” Tony said.

Tony’s interest in biking took hold quickly. Tony, his father, Mark Cofrancesco, and his older brother started going to the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area for regular rides. As they continued riding and improving, they decided to take part in a race at Fair Hill.

“Then we said OK, we’ll come back next year,” Tony explained.

That first season, Tony participated in two or three races. His 18-year-old brother raced then, but does not race any more. Tony appreciated the experience of riding with both his father and brother.

“It was real nice because you get to learn a lot and you get to encourage each other,” Tony said.

Over time, the activity became a bonding activity between Tony and his father.

“Riding with my dad is real great,” Tony said, brightly. He explained that when his father was a kid he rode motocross. Tony credits his father’s background in motocross as one of the things that make him invaluable in training.

“He knows a lot about training and he gives me tips,” Tony said.

Tony values his father’s racing advice, be it on the nuances of technical terrain or safety. One of the pieces of advice Tony gained from his father is the importance of being safe. His father reminds Tony that riding recklessly is counterproductive. No matter how fast he goes, Tony said, if he crashes he won’t finish well in a race.

“I don’t think I’d be as good as I am today if I didn’t have my dad helping me,” Tony said.

Tony humbly recognizes the role of his father, his sponsors and God in his racing.

Tony and his father usually go riding once or twice a week for about 15-20 miles. The rides turn out to be about two hours each. Sometimes they even ride in the winter, depending on the weather.

“We’ve been riding when there’s a few inches of snow on the ground,” Tony said with a laugh.

If they have a race coming up, Tony and his father ride to train; other times they ride just for fun.

In competition, Tony participates in the Mid Atlantic Super Series with races throughout Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Tony rides a hardtail bike, which means that it has a front suspension but no rear suspension. The bike is one of two main choices in cross-country bikes, the other being one with a full suspension.

Hardtail bikes are considered better for technical terrain, including rocks and obstacles, because they are lighter and more durable.

Tony usually practices at Fair Hill, which is about 40 minutes from his home. This venue is his favorite because of the variety of trails. He ride trails of all difficulty levels and practices on technical and hilly terrain.

If he doesn’t have the opportunity to get all the way out to Fair Hill, sometimes Tony and his father will ride at Susquehanna State Park. Tony says this is not his favorite option. He prefers more of a challenge.

Challenge is something Tony meets head on. In the Mid Atlantic Super Series, Cofrancesco finished second for overall points in the Junior 2 category for racers age 13 to 15.

“Last year I ranked second in my age group, and here we are today,” he said.

In addition to excelling in cross-country mountain biking, Tony plays volleyball, indoor and outdoor track, is an honors student, serves as vice president of his student government association, is a member of his school’s mock trial organization, and is a member of the speech and debate team.

“It gets kind of busy sometimes,” Tony said.

Surprisingly, Tony enjoys mock trial more than mountain biking. While mountain biking is certainly high on his list of priorities, mock trial is his favorite activity right now.

“I mean, mountain biking is really fun, but I really like mock trial,” he said.

As a member of mock trial he gets a case and the chance to portray a lawyer. He was even recognized as a mock trial all-star. His interest in mock trial may have something to do with his goals for the future.

“I would like to go into politics somehow, but I’m also thinking about medicine,” he said.

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