Cyclists earn medals in national championships

Cyclists earn medals in national championships

The three-day-long event at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome pitted track cyclists from more than 30 schools across the United States in a variety of individual and team events.

Stefan Rothe, a senior from Dresden, Germany, collected MSU's top finish of the weekend with a third-place finish in the points race. The top four riders across the line in each of 10 sprints evenly placed throughout the 60-lap race collected points toward the overall placing.

Rothe took an early lead and earned points in the first two sprints. By the time the second sprint occurred, Rothe was part of a breakaway group that eventually grew to seven and lapped the field to gain an additional point bonus.

Several other later sprints led to the third-place finish in a field that included several riders who also earned national championships earlier this month in the more prestigious Elite National Cycling Championships at the Superdrome in Frisco, Texas.

"Stefan rode the race aggressively and brilliantly,'' said Midwestern State cycling coach Gary Achterberg. "He made sure he was in the right place at the right time. He got timely help from his two teammates in the race and put his heart and soul into something he wanted very badly."


The other medal-winning performances of the weekend were:

  • Dominic Van Nielen's fifth-place finish in the match sprint. Van Nielen, a junior from Kingwood, Texas, survived two last-chance rides as he advanced to the round that determined the final medal winner.

    "The match sprint is a very tactical event that requires as much brain power as athletic power," Achterberg said. "Dom's a smart rider, and even though he's still mastering the event, that definitely paid off."

    Rothe's fifth-place finish in the 3,000-meter individual pursuit, essentially a race against the clock. The entire four-rider squad's fifth-place finish in the 4,000-meter team pursuit in which four riders work together to cover the distance in as short a time as possible. Joining Rothe and Van Nielen were sophomore David Van Akkeren of Houston and graduate student Aaron Crum of Illinois. MSU beat teams from the University of Colorado, the U.S. Military Academy and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to earn the final podium spot. Penn State defended its 2003 title in the event.

    "We had a very strong showing with a bare-bones squad," Achterberg said. "We're looking forward to getting more of our riders interested in riding on the track in the next year and having a full team ready to compete when collegiate nationals come to the track in Houston next September."