After an amazing week of racing, the Western Mountain Bike Team defended its title as Division II National Champions. Taking place in Missoula, Mont., for a second year in a row, the bike team was eager to throw down its best riding of the year.
The event took place from Oct. 18-21. On day one, athletes partook in close inspection and practice of the trails that they would soon be competing on. Coaches Edward Cohn, Justin Barr, Ryan Trimble and Grace Owen guided the team through course walks and practice runs to ensure that athletes could be as fast and as safe as possible when race day rolled around.
Early in the morning of Oct. 19 under perfect weather, the first cross country race kicked off. After a grueling race with 65 competitors, Zac Richardson managed to finish 16th, followed by teammates Nate Maddox (30th), Zach Wood (31st), Grant Gipson (37th) and James Bivens (55th). In the women’s race, Lexi Abric crossed the finish line in 31st, followed by Caroline Benney (35th), Blanca Lobato-Roberts (40th) and Aspen Wallace (42nd).
Following the XC races were Dual Slalom qualifiers. Every Western downhill athlete managed to qualify for the finals with the exception of Anna Johnson, who unfortunately was disqualified after missing a gate. Dual slalom finals then took place under Saturday night lights. Sean O’Donnell managed to work his way into the top 16 before getting eliminated.
On Sunday, the downhill race took place, with 42 athletes competing for the fastest run. Ian Mullens had the highest finish for Western, crossing the finish with the 13th-fastest time of the day. Following Mullens: Ezekiel Cramer (18th), Dylan Wood (26th) and Sean O’Donnell, who unfortunately crashed but still managed to cross the finish line in 34th. For the women, Ming Goetz brought home an impressive sixth-place finish with Anna Johnson and Elizabeth McInroy finishing close behind in 12th and 15th, respectively.
Other races that took place included short track and team relay, in which the cross country athletes were able to put down some solid results to contribute to winning the Division II National Champions Omnium title. The team is looking forward to next year where they can continue to represent Western on the national stage.
Story by Jared Farley.