From singlets to sparkplugs, the transition off the wrestling mat to motocross is about as polar opposite as you can get.
But for Sullivan Township’s Zach Lahood, it’s all about the rush.
Lahood, 17, will be a senior at Black River and is a mat head to the core. When it’s time to make the switch from pins to pistons, Lahood makes the transition without hesitation.
“Nothing compares to the mat,” Lahood said. “It’s the adrenaline thrill. That’s what I chase. It’s the excitement. I’m a go-getter. I don’t really have a mindset. I’m in it for the fun.”
That’s the pull for Lahood, who cut his teeth in biking nine years ago.
His brother Danny was an avid biker for years and even went professional for a brief time. Danny, a 2012 Black River graduate, has over 300 trophies from his days in racing.
The thrill of watching his brother compete drove Lahood to not only jump on his motorcycle, but stay with it in the summer.
“I saw a lot of fun in it,” he said. “It made my family happy when he won. It was a slap on the back with congratulations.”
Lahood, who wrestles at 113 pounds, doesn’t have a trophy room full of little gold motorcycle riders like his brother, but it’s more about getting in the dirt and smelling the smoke and oil.
He enters his senior season in wrestling with 101 career victories for the Pirates, but likes to ride at Apple Cabin in Lodi and Briarcliff in Nashport.
Lahood came to the Medina County Fairgrounds on Tuesday night ready to see what was in store on the course in the pit bike division.
That said, he looks to motocross as a break from the daily grind of a high school student. After practicing four or five days a week in wrestling and pushing himself to the edge on the mat, when he sits on his Honda CR100, it’s the opportunity to be one with the bike.
“It’s a chance to get away from wrestling and being on the mat every day,” Lahood said. “It’s fun to take a break every once in a while. You don’t want to get too burnt out before the season starts since it’s the offseason.”
This year’s race wasn’t his first rodeo and it likely won’t be the last.
The crowds, which come in droves every year to line the grandstand, are into every race and stay until the bitter end, sometimes dodging raindrops and sometimes ignoring the sweltering heat.
While the noise might get drowned out during events, the thrill of competing in front of an audience drives Lahood as much as the wheels on the bikes.
“That’s the most fun part,” he said. “That’s why I do it every year. It’s just fun to do. I like the adrenaline. It’s an escape. It’s something to take a day off and ride my dirt bike. It’s a lot less work, too.”