Indianapolis, Ind. (Sept. 19, 2017)
It was a hard fought battle between Case Western Reserve University Cycling and Army West Point/US Military Academy that took place on the concrete oval of Marian University’s Major Taylor Velodrome this past week. When the point total was finalized CWRU Cycling barely missed upsetting Army for the National Championship in the Club Team Omnium and taking home the framed Stars and Stripes jersey that accompanies the title. This was a very bittersweet ending for a group of ten cyclists who had been training extensively at the Cleveland Velodrome during the months leading up to USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships.
After finishing seventh in the National Club Team Omnium last season on the strong results of rider, Kwang Soo Hong, CWRU Cycling saw that there was potential to make it onto the podium. Lead by first year staff advisor and coach, Gary Burkholder, they knew It would take immense commitment and training to even attempt the journey and qualify for Nationals. Cyclists must be categorized as a Collegiate B in order to compete at Nationals and a Collegiate A ranking is needed to do the two mass-start events. Their experience gained racing at Cleveland Velodrome not only qualified the riders for the requisite upgrades, but prepared them for the high speeds they would encounter at Nationals. Events like the Ohio State Track Championship and the NEOCycle Night of Thunder allowed for further honing of skills and tactics needed to race successfully.
Support from their local bike shop sponsors, Blazing Saddles and Bike Ohio, helped keep them riding and training, but it was a community effort that really propelled CWRU Cycling further up the podium. Board members at Cleveland Velodrome personally lent and donated some of the same specialized aero equipment used by world class athletes. Locally headquartered Team USA Pista Elite also provided wheels, bikes, and equipment, as many of CWRU Cycling’s best riders also race for their team. CWRU Cycling received a much needed donation from Team Manthighs/Ladythighs Dreamroller alumni to cover a large portion of the $2440 in race entry fees. Paul Marasco and his daughter Ella even made the trip from Cleveland to Indianapolis as representatives for team VeloFemme-Litzler to provide mechanical and other assistance during the races. Coach Gary Burkholder recounted: “The outpouring of support that CWRU Cycling received really reflects on our local cycling community. Their enthusiasm fueled our success.”
While this young team undoubtedly had the potential to reach the top step on that podium, their dream will have to be deferred. They are already looking to and past the cyclocross and road seasons for how they can improve, evolve and continue to grow their success. We wish them well in their journey to Compete Win Respect & Unite.
PHOTO: Podium photo by Gary Burkholder (CWRU riders from left to right: Abi Groseclose, Talius Chickering, Cameron Schmidt, Elizabeth Molnar, Seth Jaffe, Kevin Sairafiain, Kwang Soo Hong, David Merriman)