Marian flexes its muscles at collegiate nationals

Cycling powerhouse Marian University of Indianapolis extended its overall lead Saturday at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals in Ogden, Utah.

Marian, the defending national road champion, won the women’s Division I criterium and finished second in the men’s crit to lead in team omnium scoring after the second of three days of racing.

The Knights have 344 points to 287 for current runner-up Fort Lewis College. Men’s and women’s totals are combined for omnium scoring in collegiate cycling.

The University of Colorado, led by individual criterium winner Josh Yeaton, is third overall (282). California-Davis stands in fourth place (197), with Lindenwood fifth (195) and Stanford sixth (189).

Yeaton, who won the criterium and the road race at the Squawker Road Classic in Durango two weeks ago, won a final sprint to take Saturday’s crit at nationals. The top five finishers all recorded the same time.

Shane Haga of Texas A&M finished second, with Zack Allison of Colorado State third.

Griffin Easter of FLC finished fourth to lead the Skyhawks.

Ryan Cleveland of the Skyhawks finished 13th (two seconds behind the winner). William Zellmer of FLC was 28th, and teammate Ben Stalker was 70th.

A field of 107 raced in the men’s Division I criterium.

Marian also flexed its collective muscles in the women’s criterium Saturday afternoon. In a huge bunch sprint to the finish line in downtown Ogden, Kaitlin Antonneau of Marian edged across in first place. Teammate Coryn Rivera was second.

Lenore Pipes of Cornell finished third. Heather Fischer of the University of Colorado, who won the crit and the road race at the Squawker Road Classic this year, was credited with fourth place.

Missy Erickson of FLC finished fifth. All five of the top riders had the same finish time.

Sarah Zoey Sturm of FLC was one second back in eighth place.

Sixteen cyclists crossed within two seconds of the winner, and 19 crossed within three seconds of Antonneau.

Lauren Catlin of FLC finished 22nd in the field of 55 finishers.

“Both races were very fast,” Fort Lewis cycling director Dave Hagen said in a phone interview Saturday night with The Durango Herald.

“The girls race had lots of wrecks. Fast course, eight tight turns ... really fast.”

Hagen said the FLC women had a strong race against a Marian team that features professionals with international experience.

“Our girls finished fifth and ... eighth. That was super good,” Hagen said.

The Skyhawks managed to avoid the wrecks.

Antonneau, the Marian sophomore from Racine, Wis., is a former U23 cyclocross national champion. A pro rider for Peanut Butter/Twenty12, Antonneau won the third stage of the Mount Hood Stage Race in Oregon last year. She’s also raced for the U.S. National Team, finishing eighth in the UCI Junior World Championships.

Rivera, a California native, also is a professional cyclist with Peanut Butter/Twenty12. A freshman at Marian, Rivera won both the road race and the time trial at the USA Cycling Junior Nationals last year.

Laura Ralston of MIT won the Division II women’s criterium Saturday, with teammates Katie Quinn and Christina Birch second and third, respectively.

Patric Rostel of Colorado Mesa University won the men’s Division II criterium over Sebastian Scherf of Mars Hill College.

Richard Geng of Colorado Mesa was fourth. Jacob Hadar of the Mavericks finished eighth, giving Colorado Mesa the men’s Division II national crit title.

Today’s road race in the Pineview Reservoir area near Huntsville and Ogden will decide the 2012 national collegiate championships.

FLC senior Rotem Ishay, who rode on the Skyhawks’ national champion time trial team Friday, said the road course starts with three small laps and one big lap near the reservoir above the city.

From there, the road course descends into downtown Ogden.

“Coming back up, there is a huge climb,” Ishay said in an interview with the Herald on Friday. It’s not long but steep, he said.

“Three miles ... at 9 percent grade,” Ishay said.

“That climb’s an advantage for us from Durango,” said Ishay, who leads a band of FLC road bikers with mountain biking and climbing roots.

The men will race 125 kilometers today, the women 101.

“We’re excited about the road race,” Hagen said.

He said the climbing-heavy road course will play into the pedals of Ishay, Sturm, Durangoan Howard Grotts and the rest of the top-ranked and 18-time national-champion Skyhawks.

“We have people ready to shine (today),” Hagen said.

heraldsports@durangoherald.com