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MIT Cyclists Prepare to Defend ECC Championship

By Paul Stek
Team Member

The MIT cycling team is set to defend last year's East Coast Conference championship. They began this season with races at Penn State, Bloomsberg College, Columbia, and the University of Connecticut over spring break.

Despite sending only seven riders, MIT took second place at the races, run by Penn State. The race was contested over a flat fast loop where a strong wind helped break up the pack.

Karon MacLean G and Jill Sherwood '95 took first and second in the first prime but fell behind the hard-charging Penn State riders, finishing sixth and ninth respectively.

In the men's C race, Eddie Hernandez '95, Leon Wong '92, Andy Mor '94, Abe Stroock '95, and John Baur '94 used superior tactics to dominate a race against ten teams, including a much larger and stronger Penn State team. Mor, Baur, and Stroock took first, second, and third overall and the top three places in all but one leg of the race.

The next day in Bloomsberg the racers were greeted by a snowstorm and a hilly and twisty criterium. In the women's race, MacLean missed the initial break, but worked hard to keep the gap between her and the two riders off the front from growing too big. The riders in the break crashed going through a difficult corner on one of the last laps, allowing MacLean to ride to a win in only her second race. Sherwood placed third to cap off a great race. The men's C race was a repeat of the day before, with Stroock riding away from a splintering field and lapping everyone. Baur placed second and Mor third.

The following weekend a stronger MIT team finished third overall at the Columbia races. The Columbia Criterium was held on a beautiful course around Grant's Tomb in Manhattan, under strong winds. Many riders, particularly those thin riders with large surface area in relation to their mass, were blown off the course by the high winds.

In the women's race, Kjirste Carlson rode away in a group of three. Clearly stronger than her companions, she took all but one of the primes and first at the finish. She was awarded first despite violating cycling etiquette in not throwing her hands in the air as she crossed the line.

In the men's C, Mor continued his successful first year by placing fifth in a pack sprint after winning every prime.

The men's A race marked the return to collegiate racing of former professional cyclist Peter Vollers. Vollers, racing for Cornell, demonstrated extreme strength in riding away from the pack in a group of six and then proceeding to drop all five of his companions to win alone.

The University of Connecticut Criterium was held on a tight, six-cornered course on the UConn campus. Difficult corners and high winds quickly eliminated half the riders in the three men's races and shattered the women's races.

In the women's A's, Carlson easily won again, riding away from the field after only 8 laps of the 30 lap race. This time she had 22 laps to remember to raise her hands in victory as she crossed the line. Meanwhile, MacLean continued her first-year success by placing 7th. In the women's B, Sherwood took second in a 20-rider field. Stroock placed third and Andy Parsons '91 placed fifteenth in a field of 80 in the men's B.

The men's C race was the first for Dave Mackovjak G, Chris Ekstom G, Scott Rickard '92, and Bruce Weinberg G. Each took turns going after and winning primes while Li and Baur took second and fourth respectively at the finish.

In the men's A, Jim Preisig PhD '92 and Morrell teamed up to take several primes. They also initiated several breaks, but high winds helped a hungry pack quickly chase them down.

Coming into the final lap, Preisig made a daring move, trying to lead Morrell out for the sprint. Unfortunately, Morrell and Paul Stek G collided while getting in position, with Morrell crashing. Preisig, whose staff status prevents him from scoring team points, managed to lead a faltering Stek to a top twelve finish. MIT placed second behind UMass.

This weekend, MIT races at UMass-Amherst in a tough three-stage race. MIT will host the East Coast Conference championships here in Cambridge at University Park on April 26.