Whitman cycling abuzz
This past weekend, the Whitman cycling team hosted the Missionary Omnium, a Pacific Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference race here in Walla Walla. With plenty of great individual performances, the Missionaries won the overall points-race and edged closer to the conference-leading University of Washington in the standings. The well-traveled cycling team will remain in Walla Walla this weekend to compete in the annual Tour of Walla Walla.
The Missionaries’ victory keeps their hopes of Nationals alive, but before they could even hit the course, they had to deal with some logistical issues: thousands of bees.
“I found that a beekeeper had moved several thousand bees into a field adjacent to the course, rendering it too dangerous to race,” said senior cyclist Colin Gibson, who visited the circuit race course last Friday, April 9, only to find that a quick action needed to take place for the upcoming weekend race that weekend.
“With the county permit office closing in an hour, I rushed back to Walla Walla, revised the permit and found a new course,” he said.
After providing a safer environment for competitors and spectators, the new course boasted a 3.1-mile loop and a 300-meter-long hill with a steep gradient of 20 percent.
“We showed our potential, despite all racers having equal responsibilities helping put on the race,” said Gibson.
Points-wise, Whitman won both the road race and the team trail on Saturday. The events were broken down between the men and women with timed events scheduled throughout the day.
Rookie racers showed an impressive performance on Saturday with first-year John Whiting winning the men’s D race, sophomore David Hancock taking fourth in the men’s C race, and sophomore Sara Levy also taking fourth in women’s B race.
Other Whitties managed to rank in the top three of their events including sophomore Rachel Hoar of women’s B, senior Emily Rodriguez of women’s A and senior Ben Chaddock of men’s A. All three racers earned the number three spot in their respective events.
Unable to take over the UW team score of 4,768 points, the Whitman team leaped significantly closer to the Conference leader in standings now sitting at 4,595 points.
Conference championship races are scheduled for April 24-25 in Pullman, Wash. and Moscow, Ida. According to Gibson, the team has historically improved throughout the season and plans to face UW with more power.
In preparation for conference, the team is gearing up for the Tour of Walla Walla set to take place on April 16-18, put on by the local business and team sponsor Allegro Cyclery.