Full 2016 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship coverage can be found right here.

The age group race reports are brought to you in part by Verge Sport.

#CXNats race reports from Wed-Saturday are brought to you in part by Verge Sport.

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina—As day broke it was clear that the course racers faced over the first three days of the 2016 National Championships was nowhere to be found. A light but steady overnight rain had fallen and greasy mud replaced what was primarily dirt and dust for the first race of the day, the Collegiate Men D2 event. Even as the riders stood on the grid, a very light drizzle was still falling.

At the start it was Robert Rimmer (King University) that led the 43 racers up the paved start and through the first turn. But within seconds Cooper Willsey (Furman University) moved from third wheel to the front of the race. And by the time Willsey reached the first off camber section leading to the first pass through the Bike Barn, he had a solid gap over chasers Andrew Lints (Rochester Institute of Technology) and Casey Hildebrandt (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point).

But there was a long way to go after Willsey’s first lap of 8:13. Collegiate races are 50 minutes long and the anticipated 6 lap race came to be for the leaders. Despite the muddy course lap times were quick as the skies started to clear and the sun started to shine down on the riders.

Going into the second lap Willsey’s lead was 17 seconds over Hildebrandt and 22 seconds over Lints. Rimmer was still near the leaders a further 8 seconds in arrears after his solid start. It appeared Willsey was on the move then, but at the end of lap two the lead was just 15 seconds and it seemed like the leaders might come back together.

It was on that second lap that Willsey had his one spot of bother. Passing a lapped rider on a descent there was some commotion of sorts and Willsey had resulting bike trouble. The apparent slow down for Willsey was due to a bike change, and a clean bike and a cool head kept him at the front. From there it was all Willsey, growing a lead that went from fewer than 20 seconds to 2:29 by the finish.

Behind the hard charging Willsey it was carnage, even for the other podium finishers. Hildebrandt, Rimmer and Lints all chased, but each on his own as they were strung out in Willsey’s wake. Somewhat quietly, Willsey’s teammate Brendan Rhim rode to an impressive fifth place.

Willsey’s squad at Furman University is school supported, and the program had 4 other riders in the mix aside from Willsey and Rhim, with Charlie Hough and Jake Thompson both riding into the top 20 in 13th and 17th, respectively.

Speaking with Willsey after the race he said his plan was to “start hard, but not blow up and create a gap so I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone’s mishaps and just build from there.” Without a doubt, Willsey’s collegiate race went to plan. He also said that he saved a little as he plans on lining up for Sunday’s U23 race. With his dominating ride today, he’s a rider to watch Sunday.

See Willsey’s interview and see the full results, below.

2016 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships Men's Collegiate D2 Full Results

1Cooper WILLSEYFurman University52:40.
2Casey HILDEBRANDTUniversity of Wisconsin-Stevens54:49.
3Robert RIMMERKing University55:09.
4Andrew LINTSRochester Institute of Technolo56:09.
5Brendan RHIMFurman University56:42.
6Michael LANDRYYale University56:48.
7Andrew BAILEYMilligan College57:38.
8Ian GIELARRochester Institute of Technolo49:45.
9Nolan TANKERSLEYMilligan College49:50.
10Kyle ELLISKing University50:04.
11Andrew GINIATDePaul University51:04.
12Tristan MANDERFELDUS Military Academy51:43.
13Charlie HOUGHFurman University52:42.
14Kenneth DAILEYUS Military Academy52:54.
15Jon OKENFUSSWashington University in St Lou52:56.
16Grayson BROOKSHIREMilligan College53:32.
17Jake THOMPSONFurman University43:44.
18Robert LEESONWarren Wilson College43:44.
19Andrew BALDWINMilligan College43:50.
20Andrew KOCHUniversity of Notre Dame43:54.
21Kevin WOODUniversity of Massachusetts - D44:18.
22William GUILLENKing University44:26.
23Andrew HALLFurman University44:37.
24David BERGDartmouth College44:46.
25Zach HOSTETLERBaylor University44:49.
26Nolan GARONWentworth Institute of Technolo44:51.
27Andrew ABBOTTUniversity of Louisiana-Lafayet44:56.
28Samuel MORKAL WILLIAMSWarren Wilson College45:26.
29Connor REARDONRochester Institute of Technolo45:31.
30Brian SUTOFurman University45:39.
31Fletcher LYDICKMilligan College45:59.
32Daniel FORQUERUS Military Academy34:58.
33Anthony OTTDePaul University34:59.
34Kenneth ENGLERTUS Military Academy35:33.
35Samuel WENTWORTHMilligan College35:46.
36Adam RUFFUS Military Academy36:12.
37Mark ZALEWSKIDePaul University36:31.
38Gregory COOPERPrescott College36:40.
39Harris WAGNERWarren Wilson College36:44.
40Daniel SERRANOUS Military Academy37:11.
41Erich MESQUITA LIMAMars Hill University39:10.
42Dillon HUVALUniversity of Louisiana-Lafayet26:58.
43Ben CORKBaylor University27:38.

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Collegiate D2 Men, 2016 Cyclocross National Championships. © Cyclocross Magazine

Cooper Willsey goes foot out, flat out en route to the Collegiate D2 Men title, 2016 Cyclocross National Championships. © Cyclocross Magazine

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