Story and photos by Vicky Sama
Humboldt State University Cycling Club racer Traci Kroll earned a spot on the coveted winner’s podium at the Collegiate Cycling National Road Race Championships in Madison, Wisc. this weekend. Kroll finished fifth in the National Championship Criterium, on Sunday. Incredible, considering this was Kroll’s first time at National Championships.
Kroll competed against 38 of the top cyclists in Division II schools in the hour-long bike race– a hard, fast sprint around a mile-long loop.
In the last lap, Kroll was in ideal position toward the head of the peloton, which started to string out as it surged like a rocket up a hill to the finish line. It was a close finish sprint for Kroll and the women in the front if the pack. “I jumped early and I think if I waited a little bit longer, I could have finished fourth,” said Kroll.
Kroll finished nineteenth in Friday’s national championship road race, which earned her enough points to be ranked 9th overall in the country for the Div. II women.
Kroll’s HSU teammates Ryan Spaulding and Ben Barry also competed at Nationals, completing both the Men’s Division II road race and criterium. “I was near the front in the second to last corner, but I got squeezed to the curb, hit the breaks and 20 guys came around me,” said Spaulding who finished 45th in the crit out of 81 riders. He finished 29th in Friday’s road race.
“That was really hard. I’m glad I survived,” said Barry after finishing 49th in Sunday’s crit that ended in a high speed crash. Barry finished 47th in the road race. The top 50 riders in each field earned points toward the individual and team omnium. HSU finished 18th among 41 Division II schools participating at Nationals.
“I’m proud of our three riders,” said Vicky Sama, club faculty adviser and coach. “The goal this year was simply to finish the races, and we exceeded that.”
Sama says the HSU Cycling Club expects to have more of its riders compete at National Road Championships next year. “Our club is growing and improving,” she said. “We rely on the support of HSU’s Clubs Office, Associated Students, our cycling conference colleagues, and of course our local team sponsors to allow incredible opportunities like this for our students. It’s amazing to see our Jacks compete with the best collegiate cyclists in the country.”
Kroll received a hardy round USA Cycling medal for her National’s fifth place crit finish. She plans to race her bike this summer in the Bay area and return to race with HSU’s Cycling Team in the fall.