MIT Cycling Takes Division Two National Collegiate Track Title

The MIT men’s cycling team composed of Jason A. Sears G, Anthony J. Schrauth G, and Michael L. Garrett G take off from the line at the Collegiate Track Nationals.The MIT Cycling Team captured the Division II team omnium at the National Collegiate Track Cycling Championships held last week in Colorado Springs. The MIT team of six riders — Jason A. Sears G, Michael L. Garrett G, Anthony J. Schrauth G, Yuri Matsumoto G, Katherine S. Lovejoy G, and Martha W. Buckley G — came from behind to edge out DePauw University 687-608 and capture the team omnium.

The event opened on Thursday morning with the women’s 2K and men’s 3K time trials. Buckley placed ninth in the 2K with a time of 2:50.1.

Unfortunately, the evening session and the following morning session were postponed due to inclement weather. The event resumed on Friday afternoon with the men’s flying 200m, the qualifying round for the match sprints. Due to a compressed schedule, only the top 12 men qualified for the match sprints, and Garrett narrowly missed qualifying, placing 13th, but still earning valuable points for the team.

The team events, which are typically a strong suit of the MIT team, began with the collegiate team sprint, an event in which a team of up to six riders completes a six-lap race.

Each rider leads one lap and then peels off until there is just one rider left for the final lap. Matsumoto unleashed her amazing sprint to bring the team up to speed quickly, and Buckley and Schrauth led the second and third laps. Because the MIT team only had five riders, Garrett led for two laps, and Sears brought the team home in the final lap.

Despite the disadvantage of only having five riders, the MIT team was able to finish sixth.

Shortly after the team sprint finished, Matsumoto and Buckley joined teammate Lovejoy to compete in the women’s 3K team pursuit. Good communication and experience riding together are key skills for the team pursuit because the time is taken on the third rider to cross the line. These skills were particularly essential for the MIT team because it only had three riders so all riders had to finish the event. MIT used its superior team tactics to ride together to a third place finish.

Matsumoto and Buckley competed in the final event of the evening, the women’s points race, a 14K race with sprints every six laps. For each sprint, points are given to the top four riders who cross the line, and the winner is the person who accumulates the most points during the race. Knowing that her advantage was endurance rather than sprinting, Buckley attacked from the top of the track early in the race and was able to get a small gap on the field. Although the pack caught up with her before the first sprint, Buckley was able to take fourth in the first sprint. Buckley also went early in the fourth sprint and was able to take fourth again, finishing the race with two points, good enough for seventh place overall. The second day of racing ended with MIT in second, a few points behind DePauw University.

The final day of racing began with the women’s 500m and men’s 1K time trial. Despite stiff competition in the “kilo,” Garrett and Sears were able to take 17th and 22nd respectively. Unfortunately, DePauw made ground on MIT in the 500m since no MIT riders finished in the points, while a single DePauw rider did. However, Matsumoto made up ground for MIT in the flying 200m, the qualifying round for the match sprints. Although Matsumoto missed qualifying in the top 12, her 20th place finish edged out a DePauw rider by .1 seconds, earning valuable points for the team.

In the men’s team pursuit, the MIT men’s team edged out DePauw by half a second to finish in ninth, further shrinking DePauw’s lead on MIT. The MIT team’s performance was particularly impressive because MIT only had three riders so all three MIT riders had to finish together.

Coming in to the final event of the competition, the men’s points race, MIT was in second place. Garrett, the only MIT rider competing in the men’s points race, knew that he needed to place well for MIT to capture the team omnium title. With over sixty men entered in the points race, the race began with a qualifying round, with riders needing to finish in the top 15 of their heat to advance to the finals. Garrett was a member of an early four-man break, which gained three quarters of a lap on the field. It looked as if the break was going to lap the field, gaining 20 points for each rider in the break, but the other members of the break stopped working together and the break was caught by the field. Fortunately, while in the break, Garrett accumulated more than enough points to advance to the finals. In the finals of the points race, two riders got off the front after the second sprint. Garrett moved to the outside of the track and used the banking to his advantage to rapidly bridge to the break. Garrett stayed in the break for a number of laps, accumulating valuable points. However, he had used a lot of energy bridging and began to fall off the break. Garrett dropped back to the main pack and drafted effectively in order to recover. After the original break was caught by the pack, Garrett went with another attack, gaining a few more points. Garrett’s efforts earned him sixth place and enough points for MIT to leapfrog past DePauw and capture the Division II national championship title for MIT. Garrett also earned eighth place in the men’s omnium.

Last year, MIT cycling was ranked the number one team in Division II, after second place finishes at track and cyclocross nationals and a first place finish in road nationals. With MIT’s first place finish in track nationals and plans to send a team to mountain bike nationals for the first time in several years, MIT is in an excellent position to maintain its position as the top Division II team in the nation.

This article appeared in the MIT Tech on September 19th, 2008.

A press release also also been posted.