By Brendan Benson

Chris Uberti of Purdue outsprints David Williams of Marian for the win. Photo: Tim Burke

Purdue University’s Chris Uberti snagged his second win of the Midwest collegiate season in this weekend’s rainy criterium hosted by Marian University. The women’s race saw Marian’s Jacqueline Kurth take the win on her home turf after a strong effort off the front of the pack.

In addition to the win in the women’s A field, Marian also widened its overall points lead for the weekend, with a staggering 631 points, almost tripling the points earned by runner-up Lindsey Wilson.

Despite the fact that the weekend featured only a single race due to the holiday (an arrangement rather atypical of collegiate cycling, where weekends often feature two or three events) there was no shortage of competition. One hundred sixty five riders representing 27 schools showed up to battle on Marian’s sweeping circuit around the grounds of the Major Taylor Velodrome.

Men’s A

All odds were on Marian or Lindsey Wilson in the men’s A race, with the schools’ combined numbers representing exactly half the 36-man field.

The winning move came early in the race when Uberti launched a surprise attack up the inside on the course’s sweeping uphill. David Williams of Marian followed, and the two worked together, building up a steady 15-second gap. Lindsey Wilson brought riders to the front of the field to give chase, but attacks by other schools dampened the effort to bring the group back.

The finish came down to a two-up sprint where Uberti out-muscled Williams for the win. Two other riders who had escaped from the pack in the final laps — Greg Christian of Michigan State and Tyler Karnes of Marian — rolled in by themselves for third and fourth respectively, ahead of the field sprint.

Women’s A

Rita Klofta of DePauw and Jacqueline Kurth of Marian establish their lead early in the Women’s A Race. Photo: Tim Burke

Despite the absence of their world-class rider, Sinead Miller (who was at the Women’s Tour of Flanders), Marian continued to dominate the women’s A field. Kurth and Rita Klofta of DePauw took off early in the race and built up an insurmountable lead. Meanwhile, a group of five — three from Marian, one from Lindsey Wilson, and one from Northwestern — followed.

With the race blown apart, Marian had riders in all the right places. In the end, Kurth took the win for Marian ahead of Klofta. A field sprint among the group of five had Marian’s Becca Finley out-ride Lindsey Wilson’s Brooke Crum for third place.

Men’s B

By the end of the men’s B race, Peter Deucher and Adam Kosela, both from Marian, had emerged from a breakaway to build up a big lead on an energized field. Chase Wolford from Illinois Institute of Technology dangled only meters off the back of the two leaders for the final laps, struggling to make the final push to regain contact.

The two Marian teammates rode in for the win, with Wolford following. Nick Abac of Marian took the field sprint for fourth.

Women’s B/C

The Women’s B/C field featured a rather motley representation of schools compared to the other categories. Indiana, the most well-represented school with three riders, once again showed its strength in the group, slotting Caroline Brown into first and Mary Rush into third. Meghan Lapeta of the University of Illinois-Chicago took second place between the two Indiana riders.

Men’s C

The aggressive field saw a series of attacks throughout the race, but nothing stuck until two laps to go when a  group of about six escaped. The leaders kept the pace pegged until the finish where Marshall Cameron of Michigan State took the win ahead of Alexei Perelet of the University of Illinois.

Men’s D

The men’s D field was not only the largest field of the day, with 42 riders, but the driest field of the day. An early-morning start meant no rain for the bunch, unlike the later categories. Taylor Ladd of Lindsey Wilson took the win ahead of Mike Stubbs of Purdue.

Next week’s races have riders travelling to Ohio for a road race and criterium hosted by the Ohio State University. While Marian and Lindsey Wilson have the top two conference championship spots well-secured, third place is still wide open with Indiana University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern, and Lindenwood in the running.

Brendon Benson is a student at the University of Michigan