MADISON, Wis. - The Marian University cycling team won its first-ever USA Cycling Collegiate Cylco-cross National Championship after another strong showing on Sunday in Madison, Wis.
"I am so proud of these student-athletes," said head coach Dean Peterson
, who won his ninth title as head coach. "We have worked so hard of the last few years and the fact that they all rode great races made this so special. Some of these student-athletes didn't have a stars-and-stripes jersey and now they have one."
After the women's race on day one, the Knights led the overall team omnium standings thanks to a 1-2 finish by sophomore Kaitlin Antonneau
and freshman Coryn Rivera
. Sunday was the men's turn, and what a race it turned out to be.
In a field of 46 riders on a course that was coated in ice, the Knights turned in a performance that set them up for the team national championship.
Freshman Josh Johnson
was able to get through the crowd early in the race to pick up a fourth-place finish behind a Lees-McRae College rider, who won the title, and two riders from Fort Lewis College. He finished the course in a time of 42:28.
It was up to the other MU riders to send the Knights to the top spot on the podium. They came through. Freshman Daniel Gerow, sophomore Alder Martz
and junior Weston Luzadder
made their way through 25 riders from the initial break to earn a 10-11-12 finish to score much-needed points for the Knights.
Gerow finished 10th, while Martz and Luzadder finished in 11th and 12th, respectively. Gerow and Martz turned in a time of 44:59, while Luzadder finished in 45:10. Freshman Neal Forbes
finished in 27th place, while freshman Will Meger
and sophomore David Yohe
also competed for the Knights.
However, the drama was just about to begin. MU and Fort Lewis finished tied atop the team omnium standings with the Knights taking 94 points from the women's competition and 73 from the men's for a total of 167. Fort Lewis also finished with 167 points, but with the results being reversed - 94 men's points and 73 women's points. The tie atop the standings meant the team national championship was to be decided via the tiebreaker.
The tiebreaker was decided by the highest finish for each team in each race. With Antonneau and Rivera going 1-2 on Saturday and a Lees-McRae rider winning the men's title, the championship went to Marian University by the narrowest of margins.
The cyclo-cross championship is the first in the program's 20-year history and is the 17th team national championship overall. The Knights have won 14 collegiate track titles, two road titles, and now a cyclo-cross title.
The Knights will begin training for the 2012 MidWest Collegiate Cycling Conference road season as they prepare to defend their title at the 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in May.