CMU cycling team hopes to add mountain bike title to track crown

Quint Berkemeier, left, Jeffrey Sikes, center, and Morgan Ryan, right are three of the 12 Colorado Mesa cyclists who will be competing in the USA Cycling Collegiate Division II Championships this weekend in Beech Mountain, N.C.



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Quint Berkemeier, left, Jeffrey Sikes, center, and Morgan Ryan, right are three of the 12 Colorado Mesa cyclists who will be competing in the USA Cycling Collegiate Division II Championships this weekend in Beech Mountain, N.C.

Colorado Mesa University’s cycling team isn’t familiar with the course it is about to ride, but that doesn’t change its expectations.

The Mavericks, fresh off a USA Cycling Collegiate track national title, will race for a mountain bike national title this weekend, Oct. 25-27, in Beech Mountain, N.C.

“I think we can do really well,” CMU coach Patric Rostel said. “Last year, we got sixth, and the only problem for us was we didn’t have any girls do the (downhill) events. If we had one girl starting and placed last, we would’ve placed third. With some of the additions to the team, I think we can compete for the top three spots.

“I think the mountain bike team saw the track team win nationals and said, ‘OK, we’re going to do the same thing.’ “

Rostel is taking 12 cyclists to nationals (five women, seven men). Each team can have a maximum of 16 cyclists (eight each) compete at nationals.

Evan Biner, Chris Hill, Derek Johnson, Adam Degemann, Bridgette LeBer and Ariana Dittmer will compete in downhill for the Mavericks.

Quint Berkemeier, Morgan Ryan, Jeff Sikes, Degemann, Alexis Skarda, Lexie Millard, Mikaleh Smith and Dittmer will compete in cross-country.

Degemann and Dittmer will compete for the individual omnium.

Biner, a senior from Lewisburg, Pa., has the best idea of what the course will be like because he has experience riding in the area. He is competing in his third collegiate mountain bike nationals.

“It’s fast, exciting and fun,” Biner said. “I like going on cross-country rides, but when you’re competing I like going as hard as possible. I like it because there are so many different lines. Each rider is pretty creative. Also, you’re on your own. You have to keep your head straight. If you can’t get hurt doing it, it’s not much fun.”

Ryan is competing in his second collegiate mountain bike nationals, but he has competed in mountain bike racing since he was 12. He is confident the Mavericks can handle the terrain even if it is different than the trails in the Grand Valley.

“We have a solid mountain bike squad,” Ryan said. “We have some tough terrain. There is nothing more technical there than there is here.”

Berkemeier is competing in his second nationals. The sophomore from Lake Arrowhead, Calif., is eager to add a team mountain bike championship to CMU’s track national title.

“Other teams are definitely out watching for us,” Berkemeier said. “We’re not letting that get to us too much. We’re focused on mountain now.”

The short-track cross-country race takes place at 11 a.m. Friday. Qualifying for downhill begins Friday afternoon with finals Saturday afternoon.

The distance cross-country finals take place Saturday morning. Dual slalom and team relay races are Sunday.

Dual slalom racing is a tandem race side-by-side on the same course.

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