Whitman, UC-Davis capture collegiate crowns

Abbott (below right) led Whitman College to its second national title in a row.
Abbott (below right) led Whitman College to its second national title in a row.

Lawrence, Kansas (May 14, 2006)—With a win in Sunday’s criterium at the 2006 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships, Mara Abbott pulled on her third stars and stripes jersey and slung a third gold medal around her neck – a result that led to both an overall individual title and a Division II team title for Whitman College.

Abbott’s domination of the women’s Division II field began by contributing to a victory for Whitman College in the team time trial on Friday, continued with a win in the 56-mile road race on Saturday, and concluded with a first-place effort in Sunday’s 55-minute criterium as she outsprinted DePauw University’s Jenna Boyd.

Abbott accumulated 279 points over the course of two days to solidify her overall individual title ahead of teammate Laura Valaas’ 220. Together, Abbott and Valaas were largely responsible for the 492 team points credited to Whitman College and gave their institution its second consecutive Division II national title with a slim 11-point win over Lees-McRae College.

“I was really excited for today’s race, commented Abbott. “Yesterday there were a lot of strong girls and you could just tell that it was going to be a really active race today, so we wanted to be in the front attacking and controlling things. I’ve never been able to sprint, so it was funny to win a criterium like this. It was a highly ironic thing, but it wasn’t exactly a sprint. I just went, and she (Boyd) didn’t exactly get around me in time.”

Like the Whitman women, the men of Lees-McRae took both a win in the criterium and the top two spots in the individual Division II standings.

Lees-McRae’s Scott Jackson edged Phil Mann (DePauw University) and his three other breakaway companions in a five-up sprint to earn a victory in the criterium and garner enough points to clinch the overall title ahead of his teammate and Saturday’s road race winner, Brent Bookwalter by a 25-point margin, 260-235.

The UC-Davis team took the Division I crown
The UC-Davis team took the Division I crown

Unlike the dominating performances of teams and individuals in the Division II ranks, the Division I level provided two extremely close finishes in the overall standings.

Rebecca Larson (University of Florida) and Sarah Uhl (Penn State University) battled to a virtual tie for the overall women’s crown before the rulebook had to referenced for a verdict.

Larson and Uhl ended the day deadlocked at 263 points after Larson sprinted to a win in the criterium and Uhl placed third. And although Uhl’s 17 prime points kept her in contention, Larson racked up seven prime points of her own to keep the overall score knotted in the end. According to the rules, ties are first broken by the number of first-place finishes, but since Uhl and Larson each had one, officials went to the second tie-breaker – the number of second-place finishes by each rider – giving the overall title to Larson.

After spending much of Saturday’s road race in what turned out to be the decisive break, Mark Smelser (Kansas State University) snuck away from the field on the final lap of Sunday’s men’s Division I 65-minute criterium to take the win. The victory moved Smelser up in the overall standings, but left him just two points shy of Mark Hardman (University of Virginia) for the overall title. Hardman’s sixth-place effort and eight prime points on the day was enough to maintain his lead and crown him the men’s Division I overall champion.

“I definitely did not expect this, commented Hardman of his overall title. “I’ve never won something at the highest level of competition until this year. I’ve just been a perennial loser. I can’t put this into words, it’s a dream. I brought a nice set of clothes just in case, but it’s just something I never expected.”

The remaining title awarded on Sunday – the overall Division I team championship – went to the University of California-Davis whose 531-409 point spread over runner-up Fort Lewis College was the biggest margin of any that decided overall winners.

2006 USA Cycling Collegiate National Champions
Click on event for full results

Division I Overall Team ChampionUniversity of California-Davis
Division II Overall Team ChampionWhitman College

Men’s Division I Individual Overall ChampionMark Hardman (University of Virginia)
Men’s Division II Individual Overall ChampionScott Jackson (Lees-McRae College)
Women’s Division I Individual Overall ChampionRebecca Larson (University of Florida)
Women’s Division II Individual Overall ChampionMara Abbott (Whitman College)

Men’s Division I Team Time TrialFort Lewis College
Men’s Division II Team Time TrialLees-McRae College
Women’s Division I Team Time TrialUniversity of California-Davis
Women’s Division II Team Time TrialWhitman College

Men’s Division I Road RaceMark Hardman (University of Virginia)
Men’s Division II Road RaceBrent Bookwalter (Lees-McRae College)
Women’s Division I Road RaceSarah Uhl (Penn State University)
Women’s Division II Road RaceMara Abbott (Whitman College)

Men’s Division I CriteriumMark Smelser (Kansas State University)
Men’s Division II CriteriumScott Jackson (Lees-McRae College)
Women’s Division I CriteriumRebecca Larson (University of Florida)
Women’s Division II CriteriumMara Abbott (Whitman College)

About USA Cycling
Recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling promotes American cycling through its 54,000 members and 2,000 annual events. USA Cycling associations include the BMX Association (BMX), National Off-Road Bicycle Association (mountain bike), U.S. Cycling Federation (road/track), the National Collegiate Cycling Association and the U.S. Professional Racing Organization (professional men’s road). For more information visit www.usacycling.org or contact, USA Cycling Director of Marketing and Communications, Andy Lee at 719-866-4867.

This Article Published May 14, 2006 For more information contact: