ANGEL FIRE, New Mexico (VN) — Fort Lewis College continued its domination of the 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships on Saturday as the Division I powerhouse took the men’s and women’s short-track cross-country titles.
In Division II, Richard Cypress Gorry (Brevard College) added the short-track title to the cross-country crown he won on Friday, while Rebecca Gross (University of Denver) used a front-row start to grab an early lead and keep it to the finish.
Fort Lewis racer Rotem Ishay, who said afterward that this would be his last collegiate endurance competition, left on top of his game. He and teammate Howard Grotts were at the front after two laps of the half-mile circuit.
Samuel Morrison (University of Colorado-Boulder) was a viable threat until the two Skyhawks drilled it with two laps remaining.
Ishay then left his teammate behind and took the stars-and-stripes for the third consecutive year, with Grotts second and Morrison third.
“Last one! Three in a row,” Ishay said. “I was really motivated and really stressed. I haven’t felt that for a collegiate race for a while. I’ve won a lot of stuff and I was not getting stressed for races, but this one was a big one for me, for sure.”
In the women’s short track, Lauren Catlin (Fort Lewis College) showed no signs of fatigue a day after successfully defending her cross-country title, winning the short track race handily over a 47-rider field.
Catlin took the lead from Deidre York (University of Colorado-Boulder) on the third lap and maintained a comfortable lead throughout the rest of the race, crossing the line more than 30 seconds ahead of runner-up York. Catlin’s teammate, Sofia Gomez Villafane, placed third.
“I felt really good today,” said Catlin. “Watching the (Fort Lewis) boys do so well earlier, I was like, ‘I gotta perform now. I can’t let them get all the credit.’”
It wasn’t as easy as it seemed from the results, however. Catlin had to dodge a crash at the start that involved teammate Sarah Sturm.
“I started in the third row and I think that actually saved me,” Catlin said. “I had enough time to see it. It was on my right, I went to the left and didn’t get caught up in it. Last year, I was the one who got crashed out in the beginning, so I know how it feels.”
After two laps Union College-Kentucky teammates Wesley Lamberson and Peter Haile were in the lead of the DII race.
But the winner of Friday’s cross-country, Brevard’s Cypress Gorry — despite starting in the middle of the field — powered forward to emerge among the leaders.
As Haile began to fade, Lamberson and Gorry pushed the pace. On the penultimate lap, Gorry attacked and Lamberson was unable to answer, allowing Gorry to wheel home with his second national title in two days.
Michael Burleigh (University of Denver) passed Lamberson late in the race to sneak into second place, leaving the bronze for the Union College rider.
“It was a tough race out there,” Gorry said. “For about five laps, Wes was right in front of me. I could see him, but I couldn’t quite get up to him. With three laps to go, I caught him on the climb and I got around him at the top. I had a clear course and I was able to get a little gap and I got it from there, I guess.”
In women’s Division II action, DU’s Gross vauled from the front row to the lead and forged a gap of nearly 40 seconds after the first half-mile lap.
Among her pursuers were the winner of Friday’s cross-country, Alexis Skarda (Colorado Mesa University), Erica Zaveta (Brevard College) and Essence Barton (California Lutheran University).
But Gross, who is pursuing a graduate degree in sports psychology, plied her future trade to maintain her focus on the race.
“Alexis is so fast. I knew I had to do everything I could to stay in front of her and keep that gap big enough so she couldn’t work it back up. There was a lot of self-talk going on,” said Gross.
Gross’ advice to herself was sound — she won the race over Skarda by more than a minute, while a late surge by Zaveta gave her the bronze ahead of Barton.