DULUTH, Minn. (AP) _ Mountain biking is gaining popularity among Minnesota high school students as an alternative to more mainstream sports.

Reports say the Minnesota High School Cycling League has 1,300 student athletes from more than 100 schools, compared to 150 athletes when the league began in 2012.

Mountain biking coach Brian Hayden says the sport appeals to many students because all athletes get to ride, regardless of their experience. About 70 percent of league members hadn't ridden a mountain bike before joining a team.

The program is open to students in seventh through 12th grade. The regular season has six races and courses are about 4 miles (6.44 kilometers) long. Individuals and teams get points based on where they finish.