A pair of brothers and STMA High School students, Alex and Ashton Antil, have been busting their tails on BMX bicycles since being introduced to the sport at St. Michael’s track four years ago, and late last summer their efforts were rewarded by earning spots at the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships.
The former competitive soccer players took a fast liking to the sport of BMX, and soon they had traded in their cleats and moved quickly up the ranks to expert riders. A rider is considered a novice until they have won 10 races, then an intermediate rider until they have won 20 more races at that next level. After that they become experts, a feat the Antil brothers accomplished in as little as seven months.
17-year-old Alex, the older Antil brother, received a factory sponsorship earlier this year with the Free Agent-Box team. He is currently ranked #1 in the state for the 17-18 Expert class. Alex has a trainer and typically spends 1.5-3 hour per day training for races. He competed in 12 national races this season, traveling all over the country to do so.
16-year-old Ashton is no slouch, either. He’s also in the expert class, races at many of the national races with his brother and also qualified for Worlds last summer, which was a difficult feat in and of itself. He was a top 10 points leader for his age group last year and received his first national ranking at a race last spring. Ashton and Alex both spend time coaching other BMX racers, helping run clinics and providing 1-1 mentoring at the indoor track in Isanti.
The boys’ mom, Rebecca, said the World’s competition in Rock Hill, South Carolina, was an intense experience, with top riders from all over the world traveling to compete. Alex placed in the top 32 in one class of racing at the world championships and top 64 in the other class.
“The riders had been training all this time, and they were laying everything out there. A lot of these kids were scraped up from head to toe,” Becky said. “What was really cool for me was that, in the end, they all care about each other. They’re still competitors but when race is done they care about one another and how you’re doing.”
The boys have missed a lot of school to travel to national races, but Becky said STMA High School has been ‘phenomenal’ to work with so they can stay in traditional school while participating at this level of racing. She said many BMX racers at this level must turn to homeschooling or online school, but STMA has made it possible for Alex and Ashton to pursue their athletic goals while keeping up with their schoolwork.
The boys typically leave right after school Thursdays on race weekends and miss school Friday. She said they have become skilled at going right back to school Monday morning, even if they didn’t return from their cross-country road trip until 4 or 5 a.m. that morning. This season’s travels have brought them to Washington state, Oregon, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ontario and several other locales.
“BMX is harder on your body than a lot of other sports,” Alex said. “You have to eat so well if you want to get to a certain point, [but] with BMX you’re traveling so much that it makes it hard to eat really good. You have to be creative.”
While Ashton isn’t yet sure what the future might hold for his BMX experiences, older brother Alex hopes his efforts on the track will pay off with the ability to get a scholarship for a college that offers a BMX collegiate series. Minnesota does not have any schools who offer BMX as a collegiate sport, but he said there are several options in more southern states.
And as for mom’s nerves over this high-intensity competition, she admits that she used to be “a mess” when her sons were racing, but now she knows that they often need to see her confidence.
“Whether I want them to do it or not, this is what makes them happy and this is what they’re good at,” she said. “So I’ll be there, and if there’s an injury we’ll deal with it.”