Everyone knows Jadyn Serles as “Tank,” the nickname he’s had since he was 5 years old.
However, the 13-year-old from Granite Falls is anything but a tank when he’s on wheels. Rather than methodically plugging along at a slow rate, Serles finds himself speeding through the dirt and flying through the air on his 85cc class motocross bike. And Serles is riding those skills all the way to the top of the national amateur motocross world.
Serles hits the grandest stage in national amateur motocross this week when he participates at the 2019 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship on the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Racing begins Tuesday and continues through Saturday.
“(Qualifying for nationals) was a huge confidence boost,” said Serles, who earned his nickname as a strong and stocky youth football player rather than for anything he did in motocross. “I was just so happy that I qualified.”
The Loretta Lynn Nationals, as they’re referred to, are considered the biggest amateur motocross event in the nation. Serles is making his first trip to nationals, competing in the 85cc (ages 10-12) and 85cc (10-12) Limited classes. Serles qualified by finishing second in both classes at the NW Regional Qualifier on June 15-16 in Washougal. The top four in each class earned berths to nationals.
Serles may only be 13, but he’s already a veteran of motocross. He comes from a motocross family — his father, Scott, also raced — and first began riding motorized vehicles when he received a quad for his fourth birthday. He was on a dirt bike by the time he was 5 and was racing competitively at 6. He attends school online with the Washington State Connections Academy, in part because of his busy racing schedule — Scott Serles estimated that when all is said and done the family will have driven nearly 30,000 miles to and from motocross events this year.
But this is the first year, after many attempts, that Tank Serles was able to qualify for nationals.
“I’ve been trying since I was on 50s, so probably four or five years,” Tank Serles said. “I wanted it really bad. I knew I had a good chance, it was the best chance since I started.”
And now that Tank Serles has qualified for nationals, he’s taking steps to ensure he remains a national-caliber rider.
Tank Serles races regionally in the the Pacwest MX Serles, which has events at tracks throughout Washington and Oregon, and he’s won multiple points championships. But after Tank qualified for nationals his family decided it was the right time to step up preparations. So he joined another Washington rider and nationals qualifier, Joe Desimone of Hobart, for a month of training at Real Deal MX in Kentwood, Louisiana, beginning on July 2. At the camp Tank rode five days a week for three-and-a-half hours, then spent a hour in the gym each day after riding.
“We just knew we had to push to get to the next level,” said Scott Serles, who added that in just a month he’s seen tremendous improvement in Tank’s riding. “We had to keep pushing and riding in the heat. The heat and humidity (at nationals) is like nothing we deal with in Washington, so we wanted to take that extra step for performing on the big stage.”
Said Tank Serles: “I never trained like that before. It’s helped a lot. I definitely feel faster, and it just helped me get conditioned to the heat and the humidity. I definitely feel more prepared than I would have if I didn’t do this.”
Even with the additional training, the Serles family — Tank will be there with his dad, mom Ashley Quinn and older sister Peyton — is keeping its expectations realistic at nationals. Tank is up against 41 other riders in each of his classes, with the opposition representing 23 states along with Canada, Colombia and Australia. Scott Serles said they’d be happy if Tank finishes in the top half and ecstatic if Tank can get a top 10.
“It’s been an awesome journey watching him grow physically and mentally and come into his own person.” Scott Serles said. “I’m just really proud to see his accomplishments and where he’s come in the last couple years. With his hard work and drive, I’m just proud that motocross has given him those skill sets he can take anywhere in life.”
But for now, Tank Serles is taking that skill set to nationals. And now that he’s made it once, he’s hoping to stay there a long time.
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