The event opened on Friday afternoon with the first-ever collegiate team relay at the cyclo-cross championship. The event, similar to that which made its debut at the mountain bike nationals in October, featured riders from each team with one female and one male rider having to ride two laps each in the four-lap event. The Knights have now swept both of the debut relays with a championship ride on Friday afternoon.
"This event adds a tremendous dynamic to the championship," said head coach Dean Peterson
, who is in his eighth season. "It's a new twist to mix up the event a little and we knew we had a strong team going in."
The team of sophomore Drew Dillman
, junior Josh Johnson
, senior Allie Dragoo
and junior Coryn Rivera
earned the title with a time of 35:23 to achieve the maximum 94 points from the event. MU defeated Fort Lewis by more than 40 seconds in earning the championship. The same foursome also earned the title in the mountain bike event's debut in October.
"This event added something new to a championship that only saw two events scored," said Peterson. "By bringing the team dynamic into the event, it makes the championship more interesting and adds to the excitement. I am extremely proud of our team for being able to earn that championship in its debut."
Over the course of the weekend, the ride changed from day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. The teams dealt with conditions that featured wet mud, tacky mud, and even dry conditions. At altitude and with a stiff wind that peaked at 50-60 miles per hour from time-to-time, the teams had to battle the intense conditions each day.
Saturday saw the women take to the course and senior Kaitlin Antonneau
did not disappoint as she was seeking her third straight national championship in the women's race. Antonneau successfully defended her title with a time of 38:27, which was more than a minute faster than the runner-up from Fort Lewis College. Not to be outdone, Rivera earned a podium finish after a third-place ride, while Dragoo also earned a podium finish right behind Rivera to seal the maximum 94 points from the women's event. After the second day, the Knights were in the driver's seat for the title and it was the men's race that would decide the team champion
In a race that featured 65 riders on Sunday, the men's race featured photo finishes for 3-4 and 5-6 in the standings. While Lees-McRae's Kerry Werner rode away from the pack, Dillman also broke free to earn a runner-up finish 39 seconds behind Werner. The race for fifth and sixth place was one to remember. Johnson and Lindenwood's Brandon Feehery needed a photo finish
as both crossed the line at nearly identical times. However, Feehery had the width of a tire on Johnson as they crossed the line to earn fourth and give the MU junior sixth.
Freshman Zach Carlson
rode to a 16th-place finish, senior David Yohe
finished in 28th, sophomore Nate Labecki
finished in 29th. Freshman Zach Bender
rounded out the MU finishers with a 32nd-place finish.
Behind Dillman, Johnson and Carlson, the Knights secured the maximum 94 points to complete the clean sweep and give the Knights their 24th all-time collegiate national championship.
By earning the team title, the Knights are now atop the 2013-14 overall team omnium standings with a 289-278 lead over Fort Lewis College with three of the five events completed. Marian University is looking to repeat as the overall team champion after a dominant campaign in 2012-13.
The Knights will return to the BMX and road courses as spring gets underway and look to defend their BMX and road national titles in 2014. Look for the road schedule and the BMX championship schedule soon.
Follow the Knights as the continue their ride for team title number two in 2014 on Twitter: @MarianCycling
and on Facebook: Marian University Cycling Team