The 2005 USA Junior Track Cycling National Championships return to the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown, Pa. July 6-9 as the country's future crop of track riders compete for stars and stripes jerseys in this annual event. The championships will be held in T-Town for the first time since 2001, featuring events for riders between the ages of 10 and 18 and serving as a selection races for the UCI Junior Track World Championships August 7-14 in Vienna, Austria.
Returning for another stab at a national title are several talented riders in both endurance and sprint-oriented events including defending national champions hoping to repeat their feats from a year ago and podium finishers wishing to improve upon their performances.
In the men's 17-18 sprint events, silver medalist in the kilometre time trial, the keirin and the scratch race last year, Mike Schnabel (Emmaus, Pa.), will return with his eye on bettering those results as well as his third place effort in the points race. Ben Barczewski (Breinigsville, Pa.) will look to repeat as the men's 17-18 scratch race champion and will again be a contender in the keirin and the sprint after taking bronze medals in both events in 2004. With the absence of last year's 18 year-old stars, Michael Blatchford, Ryan Nelman and Aaron Kacala, who combined to win four events in 2004, the sprint event will see a new champion, most likely from Schnabel or Barczewski.
In the men's endurance events, Chris Ruhl (Quakertown, Pa.) returns to defend his title in the points race and will also be a prime challenger in the individual pursuit after last season's fourth place finish. Second in the individual pursuit, and third in both the kilometre time trial and scratch race last year, Daniel Holloway (Morgan Hill, Calif.) will be another marked man in all three events again this year. After graduating from the junior ranks last season, Elliott Gaunt won't be back to defend his title in the junior men's 17-18 pursuit leaving Holloway and Ruhl as the favourites.
In the junior women's 17-18 division, notable names like Kimberly Geist (Emmaus, Pa.) and Natalie Klemko (Bristol, Wis.) return to lead the field. Fresh off her national championship on the road in the criterium, Geist returns to the track to defend three titles from 2004. Geist won the individual pursuit, the points race and the scratch race last year and also placed third in the sprint.
Although Klemko didn't win any events in 2004, she was on the podium in every race. She was the silver medalist in the sprint, 500 meter time trial and individual pursuit, and captured bronze in the scratch and points races. And without Tela Crane returning to defend her titles in the sprint and 500, this could be Klemko's year to stand atop the podium.
In fact, with the absence of Crane and the only other junior women's 17-18 medalists from 2004 besides Geist and Klemko - Mary Geier, Cassandra Osorio-McKenna and Kara Snyder - the field is relatively wide open this year.
While the men's and women's 17-18 categories will compete for national titles in individual events, other national champions will be crowned through an overall omnium points classification. Other categories include junior men's and women's 10-12, junior men's and women's 13-14 and junior men's and women's 15-16.
Moving into the 17-8 ranks this year are last season's overall 15-16 omnium winners Cody O'Reilly (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Cindy Lakatosh (Trexlertown, Pa.). Lakatosh won three of four individual events in 2004 while O'Reilly won two.