Monday, February 18, 2008

2008 Road Season Begins!

This past weekend marked the beginning of the 2008 Road Cycling campaign and the men and women from Boone rolled deep on the path to Raleigh, NC for the first road weekend of the season. Thirty riders from Appalachian were sporting the 2008 colors during the initial racing weekend and many walked away with great finishes while others fell to unfortunate mishaps in a crash-filled weekend for many ACC teams.

The weekend kicked-off with the men's and women's road races and the weather was absolutely beautiful for Saturday's events. The racing action began at 8:30am with the men's A's and men's B's taking off within ten minutes of one another. However, the tone was set early on this unprecedented weekend of carnage and spilled blood. The first reported crash of the day came from the men's B field where Appalachian looked to be most dominant before the race with 10 riders listed on the entry list. About five miles into the 56 mile event, a horrific crash took down close to 20 riders, including six Mountaineers. Jacob Florence was able to continue but five other Appalachian riders were unable to continue due to injury and broken bikes. Bradley Burgess suffered the worst injury after being taken to the hospital where doctors discovered a broken right collarbone. Burgess will miss the remainder of the season but he may be able to return for conference championships at Wake Forest. Jeremy Edwards, Zach Parker, and Dan Wendover placed in the top 20 for the men's B race while Edwards claimed the 8th spot in the finishing sprint to the line. In the men's A race, Michael Wilson went on to claim a 12th place finish and Jerid Gooding and Alex Hannah finished 16th and 19th respectively. David Forkner looked strong in an early four man break, but an unfortunate spill late in the race ruined Forkner's chances for the early season win. Perhaps the best finish of the day came from the men's C and men's D races where Martin Wadewitz came home with a 3rd place finish in the C field, while Chris Jones took 3rd in the men's D race and Emerson Howe took 5th just behind Jones. Special recognition also goes out to the women this weekend where Amanda Gilbert and Allison Forkner finished in the top 15 of the women's B race.

After Saturday's festivities, riders would again prepare for another day of racing at NC State's Centennial Campus where Appalachian would be competing in the criterium races. Top 10's dominated the day with Michael Wilson taking 6th in men's A, Michael Koballa taking 5th and Zach Parker taking 10th in men's B, Martin Wadewitz at 2nd and Matt Grainger with 6th in men's C, and Chris Jones, Alex Fowler, and Emerson Howe finishing 2nd, 7th, and 9th respectively in men's D. Amanda Gilbert and Allison Forkner once again finished with another strong performance in the women's B criterium finishing 15th and 16th respectively.

All in all, it was a strong first weekend to the ACC Road Season with only a few casualties. Appalachian finished 2nd on the weekend in the road races behind only Pfeiffer University, and the Mountaineers finished 1st overall in Sunday's criteriums. Certainly Appalachian is well on its way to claiming a 3rd straight ACC Road crown and the Apps will look to continue their winning ways this weekend when they travel to William & Mary for another ACC showdown. The team would like to take this time to wish Bradley Burgess a speedy recovery in hopes of making it back for conference championships. If you know Bradley, you'll certainly know that he'll be on the trainer and in the gym working on keeping his good fitness. Stay tuned for next week's update following William & Mary.

-App State Cycling