An average high schooler’s email might be composed of an unread message from their homeroom teacher, drafts for latest school project, final submission to be sent to turnitin.com and possibly an email from grandma, but Neilson Powless was no average high school student.
Powless received an email from the president of XTERRA with an offer to go professional for road biking.
Powless grew up competing in triathlons, traveling all over the country with his parents and younger sister.
From an early age Powless and his older sister, Shayna, were sponsored by local businesses such as Folsom Bikes.
His routine at Roseville High included the routine 8 hour school days while additionally committing up to 17 hours of cycling.
Powless also ran cross country for his high school freshman through junior year.
In his last year running cross country he placed 8th in State and was the fastest runner in Norcal his Sophomore year with his record setting time of 15 minutes and twenty one seconds at the Mt. Sac course in Los Angeles.
Before becoming a part of the USA Olympic team, Powless became the youngest amateur in the world to win the XTERRA off road world championships completing the course in three hours and thirty minutes.
Powless was a prospective athlete for the USA Olympic team since his sophomore year of high school and in local races he says even before he joined the team he was beating people that were already on the national team.
Powless also graduated half a year early from Roseville high to allow him to be able to travel with the USA team this coming spring.
Powless explains that the chance to travel with the USA team will be a great experience.
“It’s an awesome and super cool experience to be with other Americans all working toward the same goal,” said Powless.
Powless has travelled to places all over the world including Canada, Germany, South Africa and the Czech Republic.
Powless says he accredits a lot of his success to his parents.
“I didn’t realize how great of athletes my parents really are, but I guess that’s because I’m starting to get older and beginning to see them as people not just mom and dad,” said Powless.
Powless’ domestic team, the team he races for when he is competing in the United States, is Hagens Berman.
The team he races for when he travels internationally is by default the USA national team.
Powless says he enjoys being busy and is always ready to travel, even suffering withdrawal from a lack of it.
Powless says his life is centralized around competition and the feeling of victory.
“I love doing it, I’m a very competitive person and I love the feeling of winning and crossing the finish line.
“Everything about it really … if you want to win you have to be the smartest, strongest, and most aware cyclist out there and I love that challenge,” said Powless.
Powless’ parents were also prolific athletes in their own right.
Jeanette Powless was competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and her father competed in triathlons in Guam.
Despite the fortunate genealogy, his parents see his success as more of his doing.
“Genetics won’t make you a pro but it’ll definitely keep you from being a pro and in Neilson’s case he has the genetics but he’s also got the heart and the passion and without all three of those elements you won’t make it very far,” said Powless’ father Jack.
“A really important part of Neilson’s development was doing triathlons but beyond that he is extremely talented and he challenges his body beyond his means,” said Jeanette.
Neilson says he plans on riding for as long as he can, but says he does not yet have plans to ride professionally.
“I will tackle (my future plans) when I get there,” said Neilson.