The last race of Wednesday’s Nationals slate was one of the more anticipated tilts of the afternoon. Hannah Finchamp (Lindenwood University), Emma Swartz (Marian University), Allison and Hannah Arensman (Brevard College), and others were all taking the start line for a pre-U23 race showdown in the Women’s Collegiate Varsity race. These women did not disappoint, putting on a great show and helping fans get stoked for Sunday’s race.
After a fast start from Emma Swartz, Hannah Finchamp took control of the race, only to have her move cut short by a mechanical. After a long run to the pits, she recovered and reasserted herself at the front to take home the Collegiate Varsity National Championship.
Strong holeshots are a Swartz family specialty in Wisconsin, and the start of the Varsity race was no different. Swartz raced out to the holeshot and led the first muddy charge up the embankment. Finchamp and Allison Arensman also got out to strong starts and joined Swartz at the front of the race.
By the time the riders entered the section through the woods after the levee descent, Finchamp had moved to the front and established a two-second lead over Swartz and Arensman. Finchamp mastered the back half of the course during the first lap and opened up a large 25 second gap when she reached the top of the embankment for the second time.
On the descent off the levee, disaster struck for Finchamp, “After the huge run-up it kind of goes downhill and I just clipped a post. It was totally my mistake. My derailleur was up in my cassette and I looked at it for a second and had to make a decision. I said ‘Well, I ran in cross-country, I’ve run the last ten years of my life, so here it goes.’ I ran to the pit and my awesome pit crew helped me out.”
It took the length of Finchamp’s run to the pit for Swartz and Arensman to catch up with the Lindenwood rider and take the lead from her. Arensman took advantage of the opportunity to make a small attack and open up a gap over Swartz.
Arensman’s time at the front would be short lived. Finchamp showed little sign of fatigue after the long run and she quickly worked her way back to the front of the race. She opened up an eight second lead heading up the embankment just one lap after her mechanical. Finchamp went on to score a 100% on the last two laps of her Collegiate Varsity exam to take home the gold medal with a convincing 1:29 victory.
Finchamp said she enjoyed the ups and downs of Wednesday’s race. “It was the absolute definition of ‘cross. It was an absolute race of attrition out there with mud, and for me, mechanicals. I am sure everyone had crashes and mistakes, but it’s all about who can persevere and it really is just racing the course out there.”
After Finchamp went off the front, Swartz and Allison Arensman locked horns in a spirited battle for the silver medal. Arensman maintained a gap on Swartz after her attack, but Swartz eventually worked to reel her in. Swartz caught Arensman heading into the bell lap and then held off her Brevard College rival to take the silver medal. After the race Arensman said that she hurt her leg during the last lap, but she still gutted out a third place finish.
Swartz said the key to taking second was staying on the bike, “I was able to ride some stuff that Allison wasn’t able to ride. She was running and I was able to pass her and then keep riding through stuff, and that gave me an edge to get ahead and the confidence to keep going and push it to the end.”
Hannah Arensman finished in fourth, and Katherine Santos (Marian University) took fifth.
Several of the collegiate varsity women will be taking the start line in Hartford again on Sunday. Finchamp, Swartz, Hannah Arensman, and Katherine Santos will be joining Emma White and Ellen Noble in the U23 race, and Allison Arensman will be lining up for the Women’s Elite race.
2017 CX National Championships Hartford Day 2 Results Collegiate Women Varsity
|6||55||MYATT||Mackenize||Savannah College of Art and Design - Atlanta||45:17:00||4:14|
|8||70||LUNDBERG||Kelsay||Fort Lewis College||48:28:00||7:25|
|9||68||BRAMLEY||Rebecca||Fort Lewis College||48:51:00||7:48|
|11||72||SCHEHRER||Anna||Fort Lewis College||49:48:00||8:45|
|12||69||CAMPBELL||Ellen||Fort Lewis College||38:37:00||@1Lap|
|17||51||HORBACH||Ariane||Colorado Mesa University||41:13:00||@1Lap|
|18||64||SHOOK||Paige||Mars Hill University||41:50:00||@1Lap|
|23||71||QUINN||Erin||Fort Lewis College||44:50:00||@1Lap|