By Brendan Benson
Marian University (of Indianapolis, Indiana) emerged victorious in an ultra-close USA Cycling Collegiate National Championship, which was decided by the final event of the weekend — a team time trial held at the Trek Bicycles headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.
Whitman College (of Walla Walla, Washington) won the Division Two national title, edging out Mesa State College (of Grand Junction, Colorado).
Going into the final event of the weekend, Sunday’s four-rider team time trial, only ten points separated the top two Division One schools — Lees McRae College and Marian — for the championship. The tight point spread meant that the fastest college in the team time trial would bring home the stars and stripes jerseys. Marian laid down the fastest times in both the men’s and women’s team time trials to pass runner-up Lees-McRae in points and claim the overall national championship. The division two schools also saw a close competition between Whitman and Mesa State with their omnium also determined by the team time trial.
This weekend’s events concluded the USA Cycling Collegiate road season, which began in February for most conferences across the United States. The national championships brought the nation’s top collegiate riders together in Madison for a road race, criterium, and team time trial. Points earned in each of these events, by both men and women, contributed to the weekend’s overall team championships for division one and division two schools.
Blake Anton of California Polytechnic State University snagged a win in the men’s division one road race, ahead of Adam Wisseman of Colorado State University in a cold, rainy, two-up sprint at the summit of Blue Mounds State Park. The two riders established a breakaway with under ten miles to go in the 73 mile race, and built up a lead of a minute and a half going into the final climb. In the end, Anton out-rode Wisseman on the narrow, one-lane finishing road, and brought home the national title.
One hundred forty-five riders toed the line at Blue Mounds State park for a race featuring over 6,000 feet of climbing in Wisconsin’s steep rolling hills. The event quickly became a race of attrition as the long climbs shattered the cold, soaked field.
Several early breakaway attempts gained up to two minutes on the field, but failed to stick. The chase group of about 35 riders approached the final climb together, but the challenging grades quickly separated the riders as they crossed the finish one-by-one, unable to catch the two leaders.
Carla Swart of Lees-McRae proved her strength in the division one women’s road race by out-climbing Courtney O’Donnell of University of California–Los Angeles and Sinead Miller of Marian. Swart emerged from a select group of seven women’s riders going into the final climb, and built up a 38-second gap to take a solo victory. With most of the women’s field split up as a result of the challenging course, the rest of the exhausted group rolled in one-by-one.
In the men’s division two race, a group of five built up a lead of several minutes on the crumbling field. The finish ended in a similar fashion to the other races, with the stronger riders out-riding the group, rather than attacking. Cory Scott of the College of William and Mary reached the summit first to take a solo victory ahead of Pat Lemieux of Minnesota State University – Mankato and Richard Geng of Mesa State College.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology sent three women up the road in the women’s division two road race, but the strong pack brought the group back before the final lap. With the remnants of the peloton all together going into the final climb, Arielle Filiberti of Dartmouth College took a convincing win by out-climbing Martha Buckley of MIT.
Josh Carter of Midwestern State University won Saturday’s men’s division one criterium, ahead of Robert Bush of Marian College and Matt Brandt of Lindenwood University, in a field sprint on a four-corner course around the Wisconsin State Capitol. The wide-open nature of the course resulted in a 28 mph average speed, discouraging breakaways and aggressive moves.
With five laps to go, all eyes were on a three-man breakaway of Michigan State, Marian, and Lees-McRae, which gained up to ten seconds on the charging field. However, strong chase efforts from the group reeled in the breakaway and set the stage for a field sprint and Carter’s victory.
Midwestern State University also dominated the women’s division one criterium in similar fashion, with Jennifer Purcell winning the field sprint ahead of Saturday’s road race champion, Carla Swart of Lees-McRae, and Leia Tyrrell of Oregon State University. The women’s criterium also saw a blistering pace for the entire 45 minute criterium.
Mesa State University controlled the men’s division two criterium with a textbook leadout in the final laps. Brothers Conor and Kevin Mullervy of Mesa State set a quick pace to protect their sprinter, Richard Geng. Geng handily won the final sprint ahead of Pat Lemieux of Minnesota State University–Mankato, and Joe Lewis of the University of Denver.
The women’s division two criterium, the first criterium of the day, contrasted the other races with a breakaway that emerged early and stuck to the finish. Three riders – Friday’s champion Filiberti, along with Kendi Thomas of Whitman College and Rita Klofta of DePauw University – rode away from the field. The group decided against lapping the field on the short course, opting instead to sprint head-to-head. In the end, Filiberti took a second win of the weekend ahead of Thomas and Klofta.
Team time trial
Marian and Lees-McRae faced a wall of pressure going into the final event of the weekend, the team time trial. With the two schools separated by ten points, the faster team would emerge victorious.
Marian brought an all-star men’s time trial team of Robert Bush, Zach McBride, Adam Leibovitz, and David Williams. The quartet posted the fastest time of the day of 36:23 – 1:15 faster than rival Lees-McRae, and 35 seconds ahead of runner-up, University of California–Davis.
But the real competition arose between the women’s teams of Marian and Lees-McRae. With the two schools having dominated their respective conferences all season, both squads had strong incentives to turn out the fastest times. Marian proved only slightly stronger, posting a time of 42:25, just 10 seconds ahead of Lees-McRae.
The team time trial also determined the close division two team omnium between Whitman College and Mesa State. Mesa State won the men’s division two team time trial with a time of 38:15, but Whitman limited their losses, slotting themselves into third place behind Western Washington University. Whitman’s women’s team proved too strong for Mesa State, winning the women’s team time trial, while Mesa State only managed fifth place. In the end, Whitman’s strong performances in all three events earned them the national championship ahead of Mesa State.
USA Cycling also crowned individual omnium champions this weekend, which consisted of the top points-earning riders in the road race and criterium events. Robert Bush of Marian and Carla Swart of Lees-McRae brought home national champion jerseys for division one, while Arielle Filliberti of Dartmouth and Richard Geng of Mesa State topped the podiums for division two.
The weekend also featured a banquet where, in the spirit of collegiate cycling, several lucky riders had the opportunity to compete in a dizzy tag-team tricycle race. Lindsey Wilson College of Columbia, Kentucky, demonstrated slightly-disturbing tricycle handling skills and leg speed to win brand new road cycling shoes for the entire team.
Division I Men’s Team Time Trial
- 1. Marian University 36:23.44
- 2. University of California-Davis 36:58.50
- 3. Fort Lewis College 37:32.58
- 4. Lees-McRae College 37:52.80
- 5. Colorado State University 38:11.86
DI Women’s Team Time Trial
- 1. Marian University 42:25.44
- 2. Lees-McRae College 42:35.30
- 3. University of California-Davis 43:01.57
- 4. University of Colorado-Boulder 44:25.18
- 5. University of Arizona 44:36.73
DII Men’s Team Time Trial
- 1. Mesa State College 38:15.10
- 2. Western Washington University 38:38.34
- 3. Whitman College 38:43.42
- 4. Duke University 38:46.40
- 5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 39:55.13
DII Women’s Team Time Trial
- 1. Whitman College 45:26.73
- 2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 45:51.60
- 3. Dartmouth College 45:51.95
- 4. Yale University 48:16.08
- 5. Mesa State College 49:08.58
DI Team Omnium Results
- 1. Marian University 459
- 2. Lees-McRae College 428
- 3. University of California-Davis 362
- 4. Fort Lewis College 342
- 5. Midwestern State University 302
DII Team Omnium Results
- 1. Whitman College 455
- 2. Mesa State 429
- 3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 332
- 4. Dartmouth College 326
- 5. Western Washington University 308