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A collegiate season to remember

By:
Missy Erickson
Published:
February 02, 2010, 18:06 GMT,
Updated:
February 02, 2010, 18:42 GMT

Missy Erickson earns six medals and first championship at track and 'cross nats

Sarah Sturm and Missy Erickson.

Sarah Sturm and Missy Erickson.

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The 2009-2010 collegiate season got underway in September with Collegiate Track Nationals.

Our trip began with a 4:30 a.m. wake up and a drive down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to catch a flight to St. Louis, then a transfer flight to Philadelphia and finally a drive to Trexlertown. We arrived at 11:00 p.m., only to race at 8:00 a.m. the next morning.

Day one of Collegiate Nationals meant the 500m time trial. This is an event I had been working on and improved by two seconds in practice, unofficially, and that proved to be correct. I knocked two seconds off my time from last year's 500m, and placed seventh overall, missing the podium, but happy with the result.

On day two I had the women's team pursuit, which we placed third in, improving our time, while at a lower elevation, by two seconds over last year.

Up next was the women's points race. Last year I placed fifth not having a clue what I was doing, so I figured I could at least improve that place, this year, with a little knowledge, and that is what I did. At one point in the race I was off the front with a Marian [College] rider. We stayed out for four laps until I broke from that and attacked off the front myself.

I was off the front alone for another eight laps. My teammate Sarah "The Sturminator" Sturm was also in the points race with me. The team said while I was off the front Sarah was working the group with her elbows out, not letting a soul go by to chase me down. In the end I did get chased down, but not without letting me get enough sprint points to come in second overall, with Colleen Hayduk taking the win.

At the end of the points race there were cheers, laughter and tears from Sarah Sturm, puffing oxygen from the medical assistants, and then crying after finding out I had placed second, and I, from the pain of an injury I had surgery on in my wrist last December, and for my roommate who worked that whole race to help me get second place.

Day three of track nationals was the last day, and a very eventful one. The morning session for me meant the flying 200m qualifying for the match sprints. I qualified after the flying 200m, and the rest of the Fort Lewis College women, Stephanie Falls, and Ashley Grubb, also qualified. The thing with match sprints is experience, of which I have extremely little. I lost my first round, won the repechage, lost the second round, and lost the second round repechage to get ninth place.

After all that excitement, the Fort Lewis Cycling Team came in third overall for Division 1, even without the points from the Italian Pursuit.

On the plane now, back to Durango, Colorado, Fort Lewis College (FLC) just completed its third track season. I came away with a seventh in the 500m, ninth in the Match Sprint, third in the women's team pursuit, second in the points race, third team overall and fifth in the individual omnium. It was a great weekend for me and for the rest of the team.

Then I embarked on another adventure: cyclo-cross. I got on the bike after four weeks of being sick, with three weeks left until Nationals. I raced the FLC Sqwawker Cyclo-cross Series and qualified for the women's team.

We went off to Bend, Oregon in three awesome mini-vans. I rode with Coach Matt Shriver, Magen Long, and Stephanie Falls. The journey was full of Britney Spears and Shriver's finger dancing.

We arrived in Bend and got to the course right away to ride. The course was awesome. It was my first time traveling to the upper west coast. It was icy, technical and fast.

Our team was riding awesome. We had three days of riding prior to the race so we had plenty of practice on the course.

This was my first national championship for cyclo-cross. The morning of the race our group of ladies drove over to the course and watched the men's D1 race. It was incredible to watch. Our men's team killed the race, even with a few mechanicals.

We went back to the condo before the final lap of the men's race and pulled up the live video on my computer. We all piled into the bathroom while getting our kits on, watching the race, screaming as Ben Sonntag raced to the finish line.

We were pumped. Riding in the van to the course, we were jamming out to some music and getting excited. I'd never been so pumped/excited/nervous/ready to race. Going up to the line I was yawning and shaking, waiting for that gun to go off.

And then it started.

I was in the top five the entire race and I was excited about it. I was planning on getting in the top 10, trying to help FLC win the national championship, but I wasn't just in the top 10 - I was on the podium. But it wasn't just me on the podium, Teal Stetson-Lee was putting her mark on the race from the first 10 seconds and Magen Long was sitting between third and fourth the entire race. And I was fifth.

The race was amazing, I was so excited. My first cyclo-cross national championship, and I was going to help win the D1 Team Overall National Championship. The race went by so fast. It seems like a blur, but it was the most fun I have ever had riding my bike. The crowd was insane, the course was fast, there were people everywhere!

And I got my first National Championship jersey. It felt good to slip that jersey over my shoulders. Being sick for four weeks and riding for three I almost thought it wasn't going to be possible.

As the first semester came to an end I was proud of my six medals: four from track and two from cyclo-cross. It's the beginning of a good collegiate season. With road coming up now, I'm excited to see what I can accomplish.

Author
US Women's Development Program

Follow the program's young female cyclists as they embark on their journey to the top of the pro ranks The US Women's Cycling Development program was founded by former pro rider, Michael Engleman, as a way to help promising young women cyclists reach their full potential as athletes. The dedicated and well spoken women of this program provide thoughtful, compelling and sometimes hilarious anecdotes of their experiences in this diary. For further reading about the program, visit the USWCDP website.

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