Whitman cyclists win conference
May 5, 2011
Filed under SPORTS
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Led by a strong group of upperclassmen women, the Whitman cycling team took the NWCCC Division II title at the conference championships held on April 23 and 24 in Pullman, Wash.
The Whitman team took second place overall at the conference race, trailing only University of Washington, a DI school. The team was able to accomplish this despite entering no men in the A category –– the highest and most point-heavy racing category.
After a road race, team time trial and criterium, junior Rachel Hoar ended up as the top woman in the Northwest DII. Whitman had many other top ten finishes in the various racing categories.
As a team, one of the highlights of the weekend was the collective performance of all of the the teams in the team time trial. The Men’s C, Men’s B, Women’s B and Women’s A teams all finished in second place, while the Women’s C team took third.
Senior Simon Pendleton was proud of how his whole team took on the challenging races while having a good time.
“It was a really good weekend. People rode hard,” Pendleton said. “It was hard racing, but it was fun racing.”
While the conference championship marks the end of the cycling season for most of the team, four women will continue their season through this week. Hoar, along with seniors Roxy Pierson and Chelsea Momany, and sophomore Molly Blust are traveling to Madison, Wis. to compete at the Collegiate Road National Championships on May 6 through 8 where both Division I and II schools will be competing.
Pierson is looking forward to going to nationals and believes that the women can compete very well.
“It is extremely exciting. We have a long history of excelling at nationals,” Pierson said.
According to Pierson, the team has the best shot of winning nationals in the team time trial.
“We have won the time trial five of the past six years,” Pierson said. “It is very realistic for us to podium in the time trial, but the goal is to win.”
Unlike years past, no men will be competing this year at the national championships. Although a very strong group of seniors graduated last year, leaving the team with no A Men, there is a strong group of first-year men looking to move up.
First-year Luke Ogden, who rode for four years before college but never raced before, was especially pleased with how helpful the upperclassmen have been to him as a first-year.
“They are very open. They are very welcoming to any newcomers on the team,” Ogden said. “You can ask them anything and they will help you out.”
Ogden sees the team, particularly on the men’s side, improving over the next few years.
“A couple of years down the road we will be a really strong team. I see a lot of potential for growth as a team,” Ogden said.
Pendleton echoed this sentiment and pointed out that the team runs in cycles.
“The team kind of grows and shrinks every four years or so. We lost a strong group of senior men last year who are now riding professionally. So [this year] was kind of a growing year,” Pendleton said. “But we have a strong group of first-year guys who are looking really good for improving over the next couple of years.”