Team wraps up season with perfect outing at Baylor University Road Race Weekend
The team already held a 1000-point lead over its competition before heading into race weekend, already clinching the conference championship, as well as making it mathematically impossible for any team to overtake them before the race weekend began.
“We expanded our lead as it was,” coach Charlie Zamastil said. “It was a good win. The very first race of the year in Austin, we tied with UT. After that, we won every other race of the season for nine race weekends in a row.”
Zamastil said of those nine weekends, five of the races resulted in a perfect score of 600 for the cycling team, including the conference championships.
“I’m not too sure if something like this has ever been done before,” Zamastil said. “We’ve won conference for the last five years, but I think it’s fairly exceptional just how frequently we got a perfect score.”
Zamastil continued, “Overall, I’m really proud of what we accomplished. I think this season was on par with what I expected. With a program like ours, we expect to come in and win.”
Bringing home the gold
Once the race standings were in, the men’s A team finished conference with a perfect first through sixth place sweep. Tony Baca took first, Cory Scott took second, Samuel Croft finished third, Sean Brown finished fourth, Ricky Randall finished fifth and Evan Bybee rounded out the team’s finishers in sixth place.
“It was a good season,” Scott, a graduate student in exercise physiology said. “Cycling is a team sport, and you really wouldn’t be in any spot that you’re in without your teammates. We’ve had six strong teammates the whole year, and (the standings) just kind of ended up where it ended up at the end.”
Baca, a junior in finance and marketing, came to MSU from Chihuahua, Mexico where he has been competitively racing since the age of five.
“I came here mainly for cycling,” Baca said. “I was looking for a university that could offer me a scholarship in cycling, and MSU was it. I started mountain biking when I was five, and now I’m a road biker.”
Despite winning the conference championship, Baca remains humble and acknowledges the fact that he could not accomplish the feat without his team.
“I won the conference overall thanks to my teammates,” he said. “They supported me during it all, and it was great season for all of us.”
Finishing strong for the Men’s B riders were David Barrett and Caden Burross, finishing first and second respectively and Collin Buerger placed fourth in the men’s B’s. Buerger was moved up to the B’s throughout the season, and he also placed third in the C’s and 13th in the D’s.
Russell Terry and Erick Goytia rounded out the men’s B’s placing 15th and 18th respectively, and Anthony Sequera placed second in the C’s.
“Our riders really went above and beyond this year, and not just the A rider,” Zamastil said. “Guys like Caden, David and Colin did very well for us. It was also nice to see Erick Goytia get a win in the conference criterium on the very last race of the season after being a workhorse for the B’s all season.”
Claire Fisher, Andrea Giron and Angela Streadwick rounded out the women’s team in the C division placing third, fourth and ninth respectively.
“I am very content with the success we’ve had on the women’s side of the team,” junior Jessica Prinner said. “We swept almost every conference race we’ve entered in the women’s A’s, and we held countless podium spots. We really could not have asked for more.”
Preparing for Nationals
The cycling team will now prepare for the national races in Ogden, UT from May 3-5.
While other sports would try to get in as much practice as possible before an event as big as nationals, Zamastil said the team will take it easy before next week’s big trip.
“At this point, we want to sharpen our skills and tactics, but if you’re not there in terms of fitness now, you’re not going to be there at all,” Zamastil said. “Most of what we do now is recovery. It’s been 10 race weekends in a row with no rest. It makes you faster, but it will break you down eventually. You need to get about 12 good weeks in before you really need to recover, so it’s kind of perfect timing for us.”
According to Zamastil, the team will look to win a team omnium championship for the first time, which would involve both the men and women doing well in the team time trial, criterium and road race.
“Right now, our goals are to win the team time trial, help Tony win get first in the road race and find a way to win in the criterium,” Scott said.
A new addition to this year’s race will be the individual time trial. While the race has no significance to the team omnium, Prinner will take part in the race as well as the team time trial. Prinner said this event is where she has the best chance to at least make podium at.
“She’s definitely one of our strongest, fittest, female riders,” Zamastil said. “She’s one of the best in the country, collegiate or not, so I feel fairly confident in her abilities. I definitely expect her to medal in the race.”
Capturing the omnium would be a new high for the cycling team, as it is something that no team in the program’s history has been able to do.
“We’ve been on the podium at nationals before, but we’ve never gotten the gold,” Zamastil said. “We expect to go to nationals with a legitimate shot of winning there.”
Looking toward the future
One aspect of change for the cycling team this season has been the community support the team has received, a change the team hopes will better the program’s future. According to Prinner, Zamastil has not only brought in numerous sponsorships, but also gained more support around the Wichita Falls community, including partnerships with First Bank and the Hotter ‘n Hell committee.
“There is definitely more support coming our way from the Wichita Falls community,” Prinner said. “It really motivates us to want to win and take home a national jersey to represent the town and school.”
Along with the community support, the cycling team has made a point to make itself more visible thanks to efforts to become more active on social media and having a bigger online presence. Men’s B rider Caden Burross, senior in mass communication, has been a factor in making this happen as the team’s web master.
Following the suite of making the team more visible, Zamastil also never hesitates to mention that anyone from the student body is welcome to ride with the team whenever they want.
“I think the coolest thing about this team is that everyone is welcome to be a part of it,” he said. “You don’t have to be a championship-caliber rider to ride with us. We’ll always extend the invite to be part of a championship crew. If you have a bike, you can be on the team. Just meet at the cycling statue on Mondays at 3 p.m. for our bike ride social.”