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They say anything can happen in cyclocross, but how often does the adage really come true? On Saturday in the Junior Women 15-16 race, that anything could and did happen to affect the outcome of the exciting race.

The first three laps of the four-lap race were filled with excitement as several of the future stars of Women’s cyclocross battled it out at the front. Lizzy Gunsalus (AP Junior Devo p/b Corner Cycle) and Bridget Tooley (Latini’s Bicycle Repair) got off the front early, and then Zoerner closed the gap to the lead duo at the end of the first lap.

Lauren Zoerner led out a fast start. Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Lauren Zoerner led out a fast start. Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

During the next lap, Tooley faded and Gunsalus and Zoerner went about throwing attacks at one another. During the third lap, Zoerner took the lead on the climb and then hit the start/finish straight in the lead. It was there, anything happened.

JuniorLauren Zoerner and Lizzy Gunsalus battled each other off the front. Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

JuniorLauren Zoerner and Lizzy Gunsalus battled each other off the front. Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Zoerner sat up in her saddle a bit and then out of nowhere, Gunsalus went down almost right at the finish line. The unexpectedness of the crash was shocking for everyone watching.

“On the straight before the last lap, Lizzy just hit my back wheel,” said Zoerner. “She went down and I took advantage of it. It was a really a once-in-a-million chance that would happen.”

Zoerner and Gunsalus seemed destined for a tight finish before the unexpected happened. Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Zoerner and Gunsalus seemed destined for a tight finish before the unexpected happened. Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Once Zoerner realized what happened, everyone behind the barriers was letting her know to attack. “They definitely were yelling when Lizzy went down. They were all cheering and saying ‘Go! Go! Go! Now’s your chance!'” Zoerner said about the opportunity.

Zoerner heeded the crowd’s advice and attacked past the pit. She got a comfortable gap that allowed her to stay in the lead for good. The win was her first cyclocross National Championship.

Ahshely Zoerner wins the Junior 15-16 women. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Ahshely Zoerner wins the Junior 15-16 women. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Cassidy Hickey (Prestige Imports/Porsche/Audi) stormed back late in the race to take second and Tooley held on for the third podium spot. Gunsalus ended up finishing fourth.

Abigail Yates had a strong ride on Saturday. Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Abigail Yates had a strong ride on Saturday. Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Mckenna McKee heads back toward the end of the lap.  Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Mckenna McKee heads back toward the end of the lap. Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Jennifer Mettler focuss ahead. nior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Jennifer Mettler focuses ahead. Junior Women 15-16. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Junior Women's 15-16 Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals

PlaceBibLASTFirstTeamCity STTime
1253ZOERNERLaurenAlpha Bicycle Co.- Groove SubarHighlandsranch CO34:45
2258HICKEYCassidyPrestige Imports/Porsche/Audi RParker CO34:59
3259TOOLEYBridgetLatini's Bicycle RepairFrisco TX35:01
4251GUNSALUSLizzyAP Junior DevelopmentDudley MA35:40
5265MONTREUILFaithTeam LouisvilleLouisville KY35:55
6263YATESAbigailMatrix/RBMRowlett TX36:03
7254DRUMMONDAubreySPCX p/b R.K. BLACKTulsa OK36:29
8264WRIGHTTeaBoulder Junior CyclingBoulder CO36:39
9262JOHNSONTaylorBoulder Junior CyclingBroomfield CO36:40
10256MCKEEMckennaVancouver WA37:42
11252DYASEleanorMidwest DevoCarmel IN41:13
12266HERSCHBACHEmmaReno NV41:40
13260SELANDERAllysonBoise ID42:13
14255WINGCiaraLos Altos CA43:05
15257NAVARROCarolinaKCOI U20Shawnee Mission KS44:41
DNF261METTLERJenniferNorthStar Development CyclingChanhassen MN

For more from Reno, see our continuing coverage of the 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals on our dedicated Nationals page.

Photos from the races and reports are available to license here, with more to be added throughout the next week.

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