Heading into the final race weekend of the Southwest collegiate road season, Arizona State University had high hopes to swipe the conference title from the University of Arizona, but fell short as UA secured wins in every category in every race at the Javelina Chase omnium in Duncan, Ariz.
With double points on the line and a big squad, UA’s victories allowed the Wildcats to sweep all three titles of the year – mountain, cyclocross and road – a first in the team’s history, as well as taking home the individual leaders’ jerseys on the backs of David Greif and Shelby Hoglund.
“Holding on to the leaders jersey was a great addition to the season and shows my consistency and exemplifies not just my success individually but rather the teamwork that goes on between my teammates to keep me in it,” Greif said. “I’m currently a junior at [UA] and have one more year of collegiate racing in front of me so I recognize that it’s not my last shot at winning nationals, but I’ve had a great success of racing this season and I think I really have a great shot at it now.”
ASU’s Constantin Schreiber said UA had stronger individual riders this year and he expects to see a good showing at nationals.
“While we weren’t able to defend our conference championships, we still brought the fight to a UA team that outnumbered us in Cat A in particular and we all know that’s where the big points are won,” Schreiber said.
Crossing state lines
Riders dove in head first into warm temperatures and wind at the road race on Saturday, one course of which crossed over the New Mexico–Arizona state line.
After a grueling climb with the combined Pro/1/2 field, UA’s Joey Iuliano claimed first in the Men’s A race and a call-up at nationals, followed by teammates Josh Pratt-Ferguson and Greif.
On the Women’s A side, the Pro/1/2/3 field was controlled by a successful break from UA in the first 25-mile lap; Hoglund, Cherry Niel, and Sarah Posner swept the podium. Hoglund will receive the road race call-up at nationals.
“I went into the season without expectations because so many factors can affect health, school, work, etc.,” Hoglund said. “So with everything going well this season, it came down to having teammates. They make the weekends enjoyable and the races fun.”
UA continued their streak with Bryan Little, Robert Steinmann, and Alexander Alvarez taking the Men’s B podium, and Jonathan Dufek, Thomas Lo Greco, and Ben Anderson dominating the Men’s C field.
UA’s Audra El Vilaly and Katie Emory took first and second in Women’s B, followed by Brooke Lyman (ASU).
Only hours after finishing the road race, collegiate riders prepared to battle a 25 mph return headwind uphill for an 8.6-mile team time trial.
UA prevailed in the Men’s A and Women’s A with ASU in second. UA won out by sheer numbers in Men’s B and C, racing either unopposed or against their own multiple teams.
Jetting around a crit course
Winds refused to die down Sunday as riders headed to the criterium, held on the Greenlee County Airport tarmac.
Even with two 180-degree turns separating 0.8 mile straightaways for a 1.7-mile long course, the headwind still made attacks difficult to stage and sustain.
Still, UA managed to win the Men’s A field, with Greif and Pratt-Ferguson going 1-2 and ASU’s Constantin Schreiber in close pursuit. Greif will be called up to the line at the nationals crit.
“Winning the conference championship crit was another great success, not just for myself but further showed the strength of my team,” Greif said. “We came into the crit with a plan, that I would take the win allowing me to get the first call up at the nationals crit. I plan on getting on the podium at collegiate nationals, and this was the race to get me there.”
The Women’s A podium was once again swept by Posner, taking the nationals call up, Niel and Hoglund.
Wildcats Little, Steinmann and Timothy Kearl secured the Men’s B podium for UA, and Lo Greco (UA) took first in Men’s C, followed by Jordan Summers (ASU).
Racing with the combined Women’s 3/4 and junior boys’ fields, Emory (UA) scored first in Women’s B with Lyman (ASU) in second.
Nationals or bust
After a closely-contested season battle between rival Wildcats and Sun Devils, UA walked away with the win. ASU placed a close second in the conference omnium, with University of New Mexico in third and Northern Arizona University in fourth.
“We continued on the path of sustainable development again even if the end-of-season results don’t seem to suggest that, and next year will be another step in the right direction,” Schreiber said. “Our riders had a ton of fun, learned a lot, and are hungry for more.”
ASU’s Tori Riemersma, a senior who is graduating in May said her first collegiate cycling experience was one that solidified the sport as something she’ll continue for life.
“Really the biggest thing was that knowing it was my only season made me want to try everything I could and get the most out of it,” Riemersma said. “It’s a bummer that I stumbled upon this community and club so late but really the team and this season was an incredible introduction to the sport and got me hooked.”
In two weeks the teams will meet collegiate riders from across the country at USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals in Marshall, N.C., hoping to bring home some hardware home for their university and the Southwest conference.
“We are all in great shape going into nationals and we have high expectations for our performance in not only our individual events but the TTT as well,” Greif said.