El Cerrito High graduate Sean Bennett won the Junior Men 17-18 Category 1 race on July 18 at the USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Championships in Macungie, Pa. He won by over a minute on the four-mile course with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 37 seconds. Garrett Gerchar of Boulder, Co. was second in 1:18:40.
Bennett won despite dealing with a flat tire that occurred on the first lap. He fell to 30th place before moving up and catching the lead riders on the last lap. He also placed fourth in the Junior Men 15-18 Category 1 race for Short Track Cross Country on July 20.
RABB BATTLES FOR NATIONAL SPOT: Bishop O'Dowd High's Ivan Rabb is one of 33 players who are vying for a spot on the USA Men's U17 World Championship Team at Colorado Springs. Finalists for the team are expected to be announced on July 26 and the 12-member squad will be named prior to Aug. 1.
LYNCH AND JOHNSON TALK TO TEENS: A pair of NFL players with Oakland roots encouraged East Bay youngsters to ask for help and seek their own path during a motivational speaking appearance on July 15.
Seattle Seahawks running back and former Cal star Marshawn Lynch, along with fellow Oakland Tech High grad and 49ers backup quarterback Josh Johnson, a backup quarterback with the 49ers, talked to two dozen teens on a sunny day outside Pleasanton.
Dressed in a black "Beast Mode" sweat outfit, Lynch, 28, talked comfortably about his own childhood in Oakland, where he could have permanently taken a wrong turn. He explained how he went to Piedmont to steal bicycles and shoplifted from grocery stores as a grammar-school kid. Then things got serious.
After attending a funeral for a neighborhood friend slain at the age of 7, Lynch told himself, "I don't want that to be me."
Still, he struggled in school and tried to hide the fact that he was enrolled in resource classes. Finally, after receiving a recruiting letter from thenNotre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham that he couldn't read because it was written in cursive, Lynch asked for help.
"I would have never imagined going to Cal," he said.
Lynch and Johnson, whose Fam 1st Family Foundation hopes to open a community center in downtown Oakland within a couple years, devoted 90 minutes trying to convince youngsters they can also aspire to big things.
-- Jeff Faraudo