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Batavia youth winning awards, respect in motocross

BATAVIA – At age 2, Talan Zollers learned how to ride a bicycle – without the aid of training wheels.

Now the 7-year-old is winning awards as a motocross rider. He was one of only 15 youths chosen from across the county to compete in March in the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

“I like going fast,” the Louise White Elementary School first-grader said.

The fact that he was competing in front of 67,000 people didn’t unnerve him. Talan finished in eighth place in the competition.

“At first I was nervous, but once I got on the track, I wasn’t,” Talan said.

Talan, who started racing when he was 4 years old, already has a dozen first-place awards under his belt, including last year’s Winnebago County Fair Race in his age division. His dad, J.R. Zollers, who owns Zollers Landscape Creations in Batavia, introduced Talan to the sport.

“I started doing it when I was 8 years old,” J.R. Zollers said. “Somebody had taken me to a race, and I fell in love with it.”

To perfect his riding skills, Talan works with a trainer.

“The main thing is seat time,” J.R. Zollers said. “The more you ride, the better you get.”

Since motocross racing can be a dangerous sport, Talan always wears protective clothing such as chest protectors, kneepads, goggles and gloves when he rides. And he doesn’t let the occasional tumble slow him down.

“He had crashed after going down a downhill straightaway with a bunch of bumps,” J.R. Zollers said. “But he got right back on.”

Following in Talan’s footsteps is his 6-year-old brother, Preston.

“His technique follows Talan’s,” their father said.

Talan hopes to ride professionally someday and follow the lead of his hero, motocross rider James “Bubba” Stewart Jr., who was named 2002 rookie of the year in his debut pro season.

“He’s my favorite rider,” Talan said.

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