Notre Dame Cycling hosted the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference (MWCCC) for the regional championships and the last race of the 2015 regular season this past weekend, April 25-26. On Saturday, the team time trials and road races were held 12 miles north of campus in Niles, MI. Sunday’s criterium was took place just south of the Eddy St. Commons, winding through the newly built Triangle Neighborhood.
Saturday morning, both the women’s B and men’s D teams continued their season-long dominance of the TTT to win their respective categories. The men’s B team held on for 4th place, despite being short 2 riders. The men’s A team delivered a 3rd place podium finish only 1 second behind the 2nd placed Lindenwood team and less than a minute behind the winners from Marian.
As the rain picked up throughout the day and the temperatures stayed in the mid-40s, riders were forced to battle rough conditions during the afternoon’s road races. D riders John Cerney (Grad.) and David McKenna (Grad.) continued the morning’s success with Cerney winning the race in a field sprint and McKenna taking 4th. In the women’s B race, the Irish scored 4 top 15 finishes. Sarah Cullen (So.) narrowly missed the win, taking 2nd place, while Kelly Valenzi (Fr.) was 4th, Maggie Schmid 9th, and Emma-Kate Conlin 13th. The men’s B squad had a run of bad luck with James Pratt (So.) suffering a flat tire after making the day’s winning breakaway and Tom Frederick (Grad.) crashing out. In the hotly contested 75-mile men’s A race, Jim Snitzer (Sr.) found his way into a chase group midway through the race. His group gained a substantial lead over the main field and he was 7th at the line. John Pratt (Sr.) and Luke Tilmans (Grad.) stayed near the front of the peloton throughout the race and finished 10th and 13th respectively after the field sprint.
On Sunday, riders returned for more fast-paced action in the criterium. In the first race of the day, Cerney rode solo off the front for a majority of the D race. Despite being nearly caught by a few riders in the final laps, he sprinted in front of them to take his 3rd win of the weekend. The women’s B squad followed up that performance in the next race, utilizing excellent team tactics to allow Valenzi to break off the front solo. She stayed away with a comfortable lead and notched her first career win. The rest of the team came in near the front of the field with Lillie Romeiser (Grad.) grabbing 4th, Cullen 5th, Schmid 7th, and Conlin 11th. In the men’s B race, Frederick rebounded after the previous day’s crash to take 12th, while Andrew Koch (Grad.) finished shortly behind him in 16th. In the last race of the weekend, the men’s A race, John Pratt made the early winning breakaway of 4 riders. The high-powered group lapped the field before the finish and Pratt sprinted to 3rd place. Tilmans remained in the peloton and luckily avoided a large crash in the final lap to finish 16th.
The home race marked the end of a demanding MWCCC season that included spring break training camp and 6 full race weekends. The team finished in 2nd place overall in the final standings, beating out several powerhouse club and varsity teams and only behind reigning national champion Marian. They handily won the title amongst DII teams ahead of Case Western. In the men’s DII individual omnium, Snitzer and Pratt finished 1st and 2nd respectively. The two seniors will represent the Irish at collegiate nationals in Asheville, NC on May 8-10.