What is it like to be 16 years old and one of the top athletes in a sport?
Kelsie Bernholtz, a junior at St. Ursula Academy, is ranked 24th in the nation in a sport that doesn't get much recognition.
"Motocross Racing is a race on dirt bikes where we race each other around a dirt track," Bern-holtz said. "It's the most awesome sport ever."
Bernholtz has been racing competitively since she was 9 years old, and she was ranked as high as sixth nationally when she was 13.
She first got on a bike at the age of 4, but she made her competitive debut in Delta five years later.
"Unfortunately I am 24th in the nation right now because of some injuries I've had," Bernholtz said. "But by next year I will work and train harder."
Kelsie's mother, Jennifer Bernholtz, is amazed with her daughter's performances, but worries about injuries.
"It is pretty extraordinary," Jennifer said. "Not a whole lot of girl riders have accomplished what she has and when we go to different tracks everyone knows her. But I do worry because she has had some concussions and other injuries."
Kelsie has competed in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
"Kelsie has been to Florida three times in nine months, including the Mini-Olympics in Gainesville at the Gator Back Track," Jennifer said.
"My favorite race is the Loretta Lynn [in Tennessee], because it is so competitive," Kelsie said. "Only the best of the best competes in that race."
She prepares for these races at local weekend races in Michigan and in her father's backyard in Delta.
"My dad [Brian Bernholtz] built the track in my backyard, but he is also my coach, trainer and mechanic," Kelsie said.
Kelsie also has a support group in her friends and family.
"They are really supportive, Kelsie said. "My grandpa just loves talking about me and telling stories."
She owns her own motor bike, a CRF-450, which is one of the biggest and most powerful dirt bikes around.
"I'm riding with the big boys," Kelsie said. "They are set up for people 180 pounds and bigger, and I am nowhere near that, so it pulls me a little bit."
She is sponsored by Championship PowerSports, based out of Wauseon.
Kelsie, a 4.0 student at St. Ursula, plans on riding a lot longer, but also has plans to attend medical school.
"I love riding and I want to ride as long as I can," Kelsie said. "But I have to start thinking about my future, and I want to go to med school."
One of Kelsie's favorite things about Motocross is the camaraderie.
"I just love the closeness of the racers," Kelsie said. "It's just like one big family."
So what is the best part of racing?
"Winning is definitely the best part of the racing. It is just awesome." Kelsie said.
Contact Adam Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6110.
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