The Collegiate Men’s fields – both D1 and D2 – were greeted with icy ruts for their national championship races Sunday morning. After days of warmer than expected temperatures, it finally froze overnight and the sun was just starting to thaw out some spots. Many in the field had already raced in the U23 contest the day before.
“At the beginning, there were corners that were holding up real well and then as you’d go through the race, those corners would soften and start getting looser, you had to stay on your toes.” said Kerry Werner (Lees-McRae College) of the conditions for his race at 9am.
“I was trying to race over them, they weren’t moving very much, they were pretty solid. You were trying to ride in a straight line, and the bike is trying to go this way and that way.” Skyler Trujillo (Fort Lewis College) said of the ruts. He found the course faster that the U23 race the day before where he finished sixth.
An added twist to the Collegiate races is that the top 3 of each school collect points for the overall omnium, so it’s not just about winning. A fact that was made clear by the fans, parents and schoolmates, that congregated around the course, cheering loudly.
Four riders, Werner, Trujillo, Eric Emsky (Fort Lewis College) and Joshua Johnson (Marian University), took off in the first lap of the D1 race, navigating the ruts with Trujillo playing the teammate card early on.
“The first lap, I saw Emsky about ten seconds back coming through, the final piece before we hopped back on the road and so when we did, I went to the front, everybody grabbed on to my wheel and I just started to softpedal it until he caught back up. That was about as far as our team strategy went.” Trujillo said with a laugh. “After that, it was all out.”
By the second lap, Emsky went to the front getting a small gap with Werner staying close.
“Eric pulled through and I was just sitting on the wheel, my guys in the pit kept telling to just ride within myself and wait for him to make a mistake and that’s what happened at the top of the first climb. He washed out and I just went for it then.” Werner explained.
Werner was solo off the front while behind Trujillo and Emsky got together to try and chase him down.
“I was feeling it on the second lap already, my legs were burning.” said Trujillo who was feeling the effort of the U23 race.
Meanwhile, Werner rode smoothly at the front. “Once I had a lead, I tried to keep it established by staying on the hammer on the straights and maintaining that gap and then, riding within myself on the corners because I knew that that was going to be the deciding factor, whether or not you could stay consistent on the course that was changing.”
Werner held on for the win ahead of Trujillo and Emsky.
“It’s sick.” said Werner of his win. “I came onto the road section, I fell a couple of times the last two laps and I was just waiting to get on the road and just be like ‘oh God I finally made it’.”
In the men’s D2 race, Jeff Bahnson (Green Mountain College), who finished third in Saturday’s men’s U23 race, quickly opened a strong margin, posting the fastest time on each of the first three laps. The only rider from his school, he was wearing a pink wool jersey with the name of his school hand-written on the back.
Bahnson had planned to go out fast. “I didn’t want to leave it up to a sprint.” he said in his usual terse manner. He, like all the others in the race, had to contend with the changing conditions.
“All the way until the last two laps or so, it was pretty frozen except for a couple of spots but then with two laps to go, it was starting to get slick, stuff was starting to melt, sliding all over the place.” commented Bahnson who compared the conditions to the U23 race. “I thought it was a little bit challenging today towards the end when it started to get a little bit more slick.”
Behind him, Tanner Hurst (Cumberland University) was giving chase solo with Timothy Jenkinson (Mars Hill College) surging up after a rough start.
“As I came into the first corner, I had the holeshot, hit the first bump and my backwheel just dropped out. Luckily I jumped back in going around the corner but I couldn’t race on that bike with a wheel popping out so I had to pit. Got my pit bike, heading out on that, lost a bit of time, it’s a pit bike and it’s not the greatest bike to race but went around, the next half lap, got back on my race bike, my shifting was out, had to pit again, losing more time.” Jenkinson chuckled. “Got my shifting all fixed and then finally I got onto my bike and I could make headway. ”
Bahnson’s ride was also not without incident. “In the chicane (before the pit), I slid out and I think I jammed a brake or something, I didn’t look because I was so close to the pit, I just grabbed my bike and ran.”
Jenkinson caught Hurst with less than two laps to go. “We stuck together until the last lap by the sandpit, he was about three seconds behind and when I hit the sandpit I just dropped the hammer and I just put all into it and managed to stay away.”
“Good Nationals, definitely happy with it.” said Bahnson who easily claimed his fourth Stars and Stripes which include the Jr 17/18 title in 2010.
South African Jenkinson took the silver ahead of Hurst. “I was one of the first cross racers to come out of Cape Town, had never ridden cross until I came to the States, this is my second year racing. It’s just been a blast, I couldn’t have asked for any more from the race organizers, from my sponsors.” the mountain biker said. “Everyone that has supported Mars Hill Cycling and getting us to the point where we are now.”
Marian University edged Fort Lewis College for the DI team overall (omnium) title. After today’s competition finished with a deadlock between the two powerhouse cycling schools, the best individual finish, Antonneau’s win in Saturday’s women’s DI race, gave Marian the tie-break win. Lees-McRae College finished in third just one point off the leaders.
On the strength of Mariske Strauss’ (Mars Hill, N.C./Mars Hill College) win in Saturday’s race and two top-10 finishers in Sunday’s men’s race, Mars Hill College took the DII team omnium. Cumberland College finished nine points ahead of the U.S. Military Academy to place second and third, respectively.
Top 5 Collegiate Men DI National Championship
1. Kerry Werner (Banner Elk, N.C./Lees-McRae College) 41:03
2. Skyler Trujillo (Fort Collins, Colo./Fort Lewis College) 41:16
3. Eric Emsky (Durango, Colo./Fort Lewis College) 41:23
4. Joshua Johnson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Marian University) 42:28
5. Rotem Ishay (Durango, Colo./Fort Lewis College) 42:29
Top 5 Collegiate Men DII National Championship
1. Jeffery Bahnson (Newark, Del./Green Mountain College) 44:48
2. Timothy Jenkinson (Mars Hill, N.C./Mars Hill College) 45:23
3. Tanner Hurst (Gallatin, Tenn./Cumberland University) 45:45
4. Zachary Semian (Mertztown, Pa./Kutztown University of Pennsylvania) 46:50
5. Adam Miller (Colorado Springs, Colo./Colorado College) 47:34
Collegiate Team Omnium
Top 5 Division I
1. Marian University 167
2. Fort Lewis College 167
3. Lees-McRae College 166
4. Lindsey Wilson College 113
5. University of Wisconsin-Madison 113
Top 5 Division II
1. Mars Hill College 188
2. Cumberland University 117
3. U.S. Military Academy 108
4. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 78
5. Georgetown University 77