Epple to compete in dirt bike regional

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Jake Epple, 15, of St. Anthony, practices jumps on his dirt bike outside his home on March 27. Jake has been riding since he was seven and now races motocross competitively. While the tracks he races are much bigger, he practices skills like balance on the smaller jumps at home.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

Jake Epple remembers how bummed out he was that he couldn’t do what he loves, racing dirt bikes, at a qualifying competition in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“(I was) pretty bummed because I can’t do nothing else,” Epple said. “All you can do is sit around, go outside, do nothing, really.”

Now, he’ll be doing something because the Road to Loretta’s is back on for him. March would have been the qualifier for regionals, but Epple was one of 72 competitors chosen for the regional this weekend at the Muddy Creek MX in Blountsville, Tennessee.

The incoming Forest Park junior will race in the three-moto format this Saturday and Sunday with the chance to qualify for the Aug. 3-8 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

Jake Epple, 15, of St. Anthony, fixes a dirt bike jump outside his home on March 27.

Epple first found out three weeks ago that he would be competing in this event. The 16-year-old has been riding since he was 7 years old. He might go to his father John’s house or to his grandfather Jim’s place to practice. Jake might put in eight hours in a day at a practice track. He likes to spend a lap engaging in different styles on the bike.

“This is his passion,” his mother, Sherry, said. “This is what he wants to do. This is what he trains to do. It’s his basketball or his football compared to some other kid.”

Jake told the Herald back in March that he loves doing this because riding is a matter of reacting and not thinking. He says he has improved his balance since the last time he spoke to the Herald. Jake called riding dirt bikes the only thing that he is good at, and knows he has to try his best and keep going, no matter what, in order to qualify for nationals.

While Jake feels that he’s ready for this weekend, he would still like to have another five or eight hours on the bike. He’ll get that opportunity to practice today before the competition takes place Saturday and Sunday. He left for the event Thursday.

Jake told the Herald on Wednesday that he wasn’t nervous at the moment, but thought he would be nervous when he’s there.

If he were to qualify, Jake would get a whole month to practice for nationals.

“It would mean everything to me to actually make it,” he said.




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