Collegiate Road Nationals Preview: Division II


With the 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships just days away, it’s time to take a look at the list of riders to watch at this year’s event, as picked by those that know best: the directors of the 11 collegiate cycling conferences. The conference directors have made their picks and the cross-conference trash talking has begun: we’ll start with Division II.

Individual Men:

If you look at the race predictor on the event’s registration page, there is one name with just a fraction of the ranking points his competitors has: Swarthmore College’s Robin Carpenter. While predictions based on numbers alone can always be misleading, Ian “Sully” Sullivan, the ECCC Assistant Director backs this up. He says, “When Robin Carpenter of Swarthmore shows up at our races, the rest of the field has a donnybrook for his wheel, because that is the ticket to the winning move.  This is even more impressive because he has been sighted riding to and from races that were 60 miles distant from his campus.  So long as he doesn't ride to Utah, the race will be for second place.” But the ECCC has a lot of Division II depth, and Sully adds, “The criterium could see one of West Point's sprinters surge to glory.  Both Nick Garcia and Derek Siekman have shown good sprinting form throughout the sea
Brendan Siekman of the US Military Academy will be back this year, but will still have to fend off Colorado Mesa and Mars Hill if he wants to find a victory.
Brendan Siekman of the US Military Academy will be back this year, but will still have to fend off Colorado Mesa and Mars Hill if he wants to find a victory.
son.  Their team has been stalwart lead-out men for primes and finishes throughout the year.  Needless to say, that sort of organization can pay huge dividends in the chaotic waning laps of a nationals criterium.”

From just to the south, however, one cannot discount Matt Rinehart of Duke, says ACCC Director Kevin Long. Rinehart won the DII men’s omnium in the ACCC last year and this year beat all his DI competitors, as well. Long expects “him to do very well in the crit.” Continuing down the Atlantic coast, we would be remiss not to mention Sebastian Scherf of Mars Hill, Cumberland’s Ryan Sullivan, or Brian Arne of the College of Charleston.

From the home conference of the IMCCC, director Kimberly Garvie tells us, “Shay Asay from Southern Utah University tore through the C and the B ranks to make it to As just in time for Nationals. Many C riders dream of racing at Nationals someday - Shay made it happen in a few months. His determination alone is a force to be reckoned with, and couple that with his natural skill and we have ourselves a wild card. For the road race, Salt Lake City Community College ("slick") rider Michael Trussell will be protecting endurance specialist Cortlan Brown. From the MWCCC, Assistant Director Matt Jones reports that the DII Conference Champion, Joe Magro (Notre Dame) has been tearing it up this spring, and very well might continue that trend at nationals.

Mark Guthart, NCCCC Director thinks his riders stand a good chance, though: “They say big things come in small packages, and the DII men are going to quickly find out just how big Minnesota State-Mankato's Tony Olsen can be when it comes to winning big-time races. Tony's explosive acceleration will leave the rest of the field to fight it out for second place. But don't underestimate dark-horse Logan Evans from the University of North Dakota - he's a big-time rider at a big-time event, and could be a factor.”

From the NWCCC, Western Washington's Ryan Short and Willamette University's Kevin Bernstein will be the ones to watch in the Men's DII race, according to Evan Schmitt, our race reporter from that conference. He says, “Short was the overall champion in the NWCCC and has shown he is strong in both the sprints and the hills. Bernstein is from Salt Lake City and packs a strong sprint so look for him to pull inspiration from his home state.”

In the RMCCC, just over the Rockies from Ogden, Conference Director Topher Hurley  thinks that Richard Geng (Colorado Mesa University), 2009 DII Criterium National Champion, has a shot. “’Little Richard’ doesn't quite have the form that he's shown in the past, but he is still a force to be reckoned with in the crit. Matt Lyons (University of Denver) [reigning DII STXC Collegiate National Champion] is a dark horse for the road race.”

Individual Women:

The MIT women will be tough to beat this year, even with their national champions from last year graduated.
The MIT women will be tough to beat this year, even with their national champions from last year graduated.
The hometown favorite among DII women will be Weber State University's Toby Nishikawa. According to Garvie, “She has time management down to a science - she works full-time, goes to school full-time, and is a mom. And she somehow still finds the time to train because she's pretty fast on her bike.” Schmitt tells us that from the NWCCC, though, look out for Jacquie Spoon from Montana State. “She will use her high altitude training grounds to her advantage on the high roads of Ogden. Spoon proved her climbing prowess on the hilly early season races this year.”

From the west coast, look out for Humboldt State pair Hayley Umayam and Traci Kroll, who will work together in the certain to be tactical road race and criterium. From the southeast, riders should be on the lookout for King College’s Stephanie Cucaz and Mars Hill’s Mariske Strauss, the latter of whom claimed the DII women’s collegiate CX title in January.

Even though MIT has lost its two defending national champions to graduation, however, Sully still likes their team’s odds. “Katie Quinn of MIT is, without a doubt, the class of our women's fields,” he says. “She will also have the strong support of a massive MIT team.  Even if she doesn't win, I am sure that one of the MIT women will pick up an individual win.”

SCCCC Co-Director Matthew Reynolds  thinks his conference can challenge the DII machine from Boston, however. He divides his picks between the road race and the criterium. For the former, he looks to Danielle Bradley of Baylor, saying, “A former all conference Big 12 track start at Baylor, in her first full season of competitive cycling her meteoric rise has given all us amateurs hope that we too can reach the top of the sport. A gifted athlete with the brains to match, look for Danielle to figure heavily against the vaunted MIT women and to out duel them at the finish.”

For the crit, he puts his money on a rider from Tulane: “She almost pulled off the ride of her life last year and now we are expecting big things from the pride of Tulane University with Allie Hurst. She had two top 10 finishes at nationals in Madison and she is hoping an intense training and med school program will help put her on the top of the podium.”

Team Time Trials and Omnium:  

The Colorado Mesa University men's TTT squad will be tough to beat again this year.
The Colorado Mesa University men's TTT squad will be tough to beat again this year.
In the TTTs, “Weber State University will have to push the home course advantage as far as they can with their three man team of Clinton Mortley, Tyler Matson and Dustin Bashaw,” says Garvie. For the overall, they are also the IMCCC’s best shot, but with only one woman and two men entering the crit and road race, it might not be enough. Hurley thinks that Colorado Mesa University has a good shot at the men’s TTT, which they’ve won two years in a row, but without any women, will not be competitive enough for the overall. The same is said for Notre Dame, as well as Duke, who have a “scary fast” men’s TTT squad, according to Long.

Of MIT’s chances in the TTTs, Sully points out, “Their school owns a wind tunnel. Top that!” He goes on to say, “MIT brings an extremely cohesive and experienced team to the line.  They are well practiced in the TTT.  It would probably take a couple of natural disasters to dampen their chances of winning this event.” He also advises spectators not to be surprised if Yale pulls out an extraordinary performance for both men and women.

Overall, the top step of the podium will probably be a close fight between defending champions Mars Hill College, who continue to strengthen in every discipline, multi-time national champions MIT, and Army, who have had a spectacular year, dating back to winning September’s Collegiate Track National Championships and placing third at Cyclo-cross National Championships in January. Don't be surprised, however, if King College, which brings a solid team of both men and women to the event, to be somewhere on the podium and in the hunt for the top step. The same goes for Cumberland University, which also seems to climb one more step of the podium with each national championship they attend, and this year will be bringing a number of strong men and women to contest the overall.

Check back in tomorrow for a preview of Division I riders and teams to watch this weekend!

This Article Updated May 2, 2012 @ 06:04 PM For more information contact: