by Dave Mable
As the sun began to break through the morning clouds, adding warmth to a windy afternoon, Jennifer Malik (The Ohio State University) stormed out of the field to take an early lead in the Women’s Collegiate Club race.
“I knew, for the ditch, I wanted to be the first one into it, so I could jump it,” Malik said. “I wasn’t sure how many people would actually be attempting it, so if I could at least do it for two laps and blast the sand, then tempo ride from there, everyone else would have to catch, and I’d re-evaluate from there. It worked!”
Work it did, as Malik had a sizable lead heading into the hilly back side of the course on the first lap. She kept up the tempo and forced the rest of the field to chase.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Allison Mrugal and Bard College’s Sophie Russenberger were closest on her tail, with University of Wisconsin’s Caitlin Neuman chasing close behind.
Malik kept up the OH-I-”GO”, further distancing herself from the chasers, jumping the ditch the first three laps. On the third attempt at clearing the ditch, fate would strike, as a hard landing flatted her rear wheel, causing her to ride the north end of the course with a squirly rear wheel, until she could reach the pits.
Mrugal and Russenberger, working together into the wind, were able to cut down Malik’s lead on that lap, but it was not enough. Malik, on a fresh wheel, retained her lead, finishing the three-lap race in 27:42 to take the victory.
The race for silver was not over, however, as Mrugal and Russenberger dueled through the very last corner and onto the finishing straight. Mrugal was able to power ahead in one of the few podium sprints of the day to take second, with Russenberger taking the bronze, both given the same time of 28:37. Neuman completed her race in 28:51 to take home fourth.
Racing in the Elite women’s race on Sunday, the collegiate race gave Malik a good feel for how the course flows.
“It gives me an idea about the parts of the course I need to work on,” she said after the race. “How I feel in other sections, because even though you can do a hot lap in pre-ride, you can’t actually simulate the sheer pain of racing.”
Malik will be at the starting line, with the rest of the elite women’s field on Sunday at 1:15 p.m.
Women Collegiate Club Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals
|1||12||MALIK||Jennifer||Ohio State University||Columbus OH||46:33|
|2||7||MRUGAL||Allison||Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst||West Chester PA||47:48||1:15|
|3||4||RUSSENBERGER||Sophie||Bard College||Bend OR||47:51||1:18|
|4||2||LUPIEN||Leslie||Dartmouth College||Enfield NH||47:55||1:22|
|5||1||NEUMAN||Caitlin||U WI - Madison||Madison WI||48:09||1:36|
|6||11||O'NEILL||Cara||University of AZ||Tucson AZ||49:09||2:36|
|7||13||BEALE||Melanie||Colorado State University||Boulder CO||49:17||2:44|
|8||8||WELCH||Chloe||University of AZ||Tucson AZ||41:28||@1Lap|
|9||5||MURRAY||Lauren||Colorado State University||Colorado Springs CO||41:55||@1Lap|
|10||9||OWENS||Meghan||University of VT||Richmond VT||43:22||@1Lap|
|11||15||HUUKI||Elizabeth||US Military Academy||Pipersville PA||44:17||@1Lap|
|12||6||LYMAN||Brooke||Arizona State U||Phoenix AZ||45:49||@1Lap|
|13||16||PSIAKI||Elizabeth||US Military Academy||West Point NY||47:37||@1Lap|
|14||3||BAN||Pamela||Harvard University||Cambridge MA||48:59||@1Lap|
|15||10||MAIKAWA||Caitlin||Stanford University||Menlo Park CA||50:27||@1Lap|
|16||14||HO||Monte||US Military Academy||West Point NY||52:30||@1Lap|