Morgan Steele, Staff Writer (msteele@wwc)
After three days of cutting necks and cashing checks, the Mountain Bike Team emerged victorious from the 2010 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championship with the third place title in the Division II tournament. The Warren Wilson team earned 498 points to earn their title in the championship, which took place in Truckee, California and lasted from October 15-17. Senior Elisa Otter snagged fourth place overall in the women’s tournament, and freshman Eva Wilson was right up there beside her at fifth place.
“Competing at Nationals is an amazing opportunity that brings all the long weekends and hard work to an excited conclusion,” said Otter. “The atmosphere is wild. There are tons of teams from all over the country, everyone has a passion for riding and pushing their limits hard. The starting lines for the two endurance races is unnerving. ‘One, two, three, go!’ the announcer calls over the loud speakers and off you go, you, your bike and everything you have worked for.”
The cross-country competitions were held Friday, October 15. On the women’s team, Nicole Kendle, junior, earned fourth place, Otter scored fifth place, Wilson ranked ninth, and junior Melanie Kemp crossed the finish line at eleventh place. On the men’s team, senior Moses Hubing-Cooper came in thirtieth with Joshua Hubing-Cooper, senior, right behind him in thirty-second place. Junior Dylan Johnston earned thirty-eighth place and senior Linden Blaisus earned thirty-ninth.
“The cross-country race was grueling,” Otter said. “Three laps of a 1,000ft climb up a mountain, a big mountain. 22 miles altogether. There was one point after several switchbacks where the trail went straight up and you have to muster all your leg power to get up. The only way I could do it was through screaming. Once you get to the top, the down is so much fun! Some rocky technical sections and other nice flowing bumps and jumps. The cross-country race certainly tests your physical and mental abilities and pushes them past their limits.”
On Saturday, Wilson scored big in both the short track races and the 4X competition. In the 4X women’s competition, Otter took fourth, Kendle seventh, Wilson ninth and Kemp thirteenth. For the men’s team, Linden Blaisus took twenty-eighth, Moses Hubing-Cooper thirtieth, Josh Hubing-Cooper thirty-second and Johnston thirty-fifth. In the short track, Blaisus snagged tenth place for the men’s team. Josh Hubing-Cooper came in seventeenth and Arlo Blaisus, sophomore, came in thirty-fifth.
The final competition was a cross-country race held on Sunday. Otter won ninth place, followed shortly by Wilson in tenth place. Kemp came in fourteenth and senior Mia Carrasco-Songer came in fifteenth. Linden Blaisus claimed tenth place for the men’s team, Josh Hubing-Cooper took fifteenth and Arlo Blaisus took thirty-seventh.
“As stoked as we all are to get out there and ride bikes on some of the most well-maintained, beefiest trails in the country, it was difficult for me to feel 100% intact after three grueling days of racing,” Kemp said. “It’s a lot of strain on the brain and the body. But thankfully we had three days after the races to relax and enjoy riding around Lake Tahoe on some sick trails.”
The team hopes that their performance at Nationals this year will give them leverage in their attempts to obtain permission to build a downhill course on campus. If such a course was built, the team would be able to host competitions, which they believe would bring revenue and recognition to the college as well as provide more opportunities to train for next year’s Nationals.