Sunday, October 18, 2009

Smitty 20th in DH; Red Hawks 12th Overall

Eric was looking forward to the downhill competition at the collegiate mountain bike championships. After dropping a chain during his qualifying run for the four cross yesterday and missing the 32-man cutoff by less than a second; he was very much hoping to redeem himself today.

But a few technical difficulties had him a bit on edge. First, he discovered a missing nut on the pivot of his rear suspension. The bolt could not be tightened. It didn't seem like the bolt would come loose, so attempted the four-cross qualifier with confidence. The dropped chain cut his competition in that event prematurely, but it gave him time to practice the downhill. So while 32 D2 men raced for the national championship in 4X, Smitty took three runs down the DH.

On his third run, he severely bent his rear derailleur hanger thus effecting his ability to shift well. Between the loose bolt and the bent hanger, Smitty's confidence took a hit. Still, his outlook before departing on his first seeding run was positive and he came away with the 26th best time (5 minutes even) of the 51 D2 competitors — meaning he'd be the 26th rider to tackle the DH course for the real deal.

In his bid for the D2 national championship, he cut his time by 13.9 seconds to take 20th place with a time of 4:46.1. The winning time of 4:13.23 was put in by Michael Thomas of Appalachian State University.

In the end, Ripon finished the nationals competition in 12th place overall among the 25 Division 2 schools competing. Smitty's 20th in the DH, 22nd in the STXC and 28th in the XC dropped him into the top 10 in the D2 individual male omnium competition.

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