Cycling Powers to 13th Consecutive Conference Crown


Charlie Zamastil

Cycling team celebrates 13th consecutive title at South Central Collegiate Cycling Championships. Photo by Charlie Zamastil. March 31.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Sharome Burton is a member of the cycling team

The cycling team’s status as mammoths of the sport in the region was confirmed once again on March 1 when the team powered its way to their 13 South Central Collegiate Conference Championship (SCCCC) title at the Mean Green Classic race weekend hosted by University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.

Owing to strong performances in all seven categories across the men’s and women’s division, the team amassed a weekend-best 516 points over the two-day Conference Championship, bringing their total to 1,405 points – over 200 more than their nearest rivals Oklahoma State University and hosts UNT.

See full standings here.

Zach Pablo lead
Sharome Burton
Zach Gregg (left), exercise physiology graduate and Pablo Cruz (second-left), exercise physiology senior leads group during men’s ‘A’ criterium at South Central Collegiate Cycling Championships. Photo by Sharome Burton. March 30.

Charlie Zamastil, cycling director said the team delivered the collective effort that was needed in the final weekend.

“I’m very pleased and very proud…there were definitely teams that stepped up their games in the last year. OSU came out of nowhere. This year going into conference championship, the gap was only 100 points with a potential 600 points on the line and any poor result could knock you down twice as much because of the double points,” Zamastil said. “So to hold them off and ensure that Texas A&M didn’t make a surprise with their large squad we really needed to perform well at across all levels this past weekend.”

Zamastil said the team’s latest triumph reflected an ability to overcome difficulties that were present throughout the season.

“They overcame some adversity… I mean the weather was terrible. There wasn’t a day we raced where it was over 55 degrees. Several times it would be raining on us. Multiple times the wind chills were below freezing. I went home on Saturday night…and came back with a laundry basket full of thermal clothing because I knew some of our riders didn’t have the number of layers necessary to keep them from getting hypothermia during Sunday morning’s race,” Zamastil said. “That gives you an idea of how cold it was and that was far from the first time we had to race in those kinds of conditions. They came together and worked well together and got the job done.”

Zach overall champ
Sharome Burton
Zach Gregg, exercise physiology graduate receives applause after being crowed overall champion at South Central Collegiate Cycling Championships. Photo by Sharome Burton. March 31.

While a 13 straight conference title screamed of team dominance, the individual success of Zach Gregg, exercise physiology graduate also shone through March 31 when he literally rode away as the men’s ‘A’ overall champion with an unassailable 1,385 points after winning the final road race. He placed second in the criterium and first in the individual time trial – ensuring that he won every single event for that discipline for the season.

Gregg said the level team support was a catalyst to his success in his first season at this university.

“Having consistent appearances by Josh [Buchel, accounting senior], and Alan [Barrows, management information systems sophomore], Pablo [Cruz, exercise physiology graduate] and Morgan [Ballesteros, physics sophomore] and being able to play off their strengths gave me a lot of freedom,” Gregg said. “With Josh and Pablo being such high-caliber riders in their own right, I was able to use the time trailing abilities that I’ve cultivated to learn how to win in my own way and be consistent in that.”

However, the ability to thrive in a team environment didn’t come naturally, according to Gregg.

Josh lead
Joshua Buchel, accounting and finance senior holds lead while cornering during men’s ‘A’ criterium at South Central Collegiate Cycling Championships. Photo by Sharome Burton. March 30.

“Being relatively new to the sport and coming in a collegiate ‘A’ I had spoken with Charlie about some goals that weren’t necessarily tied specifically to fitness and more to tactics and being able to play off the strengths of teammates,” Gregg said. “I don’t think I won a single mass-start race [before this season]. I was very consistent in time trials – it shows the strength from when I started cycling three years ago – but having the ability to learn how to win and work well with teammates was something that I didn’t have a ton of experience with.”

He said his personal growth and that of the team was pleasing heading into the next major assignment – the United States Collegiate National Championships from May 10-12 in Augusta, Georgia.

“Being able to use this race season to make mistakes and build the chemistry in that long road up to the national championships was super important to me. I could not be happier with how the season has gone up to this point. I’m really excited to get into some bigger races in the warm weather at Nationals,” Gregg said.

Zamastil said the best is yet to come for the team.

“They’re in good form now but really their season culminates in five weeks’ time. They being able to do so well still only at that 90-95 percent of where they need to be bodes really well going into the National Championships,” Zamastil said.

He was confident the team will make adapt to the conditions at Nationals.

“We’re probably gonna face the opposite extreme at Nationals next month. In early May in Augusta, it’s going to be hot and humid but we’ve proven that there’s no weather condition that’s too extreme or too challenging for us to face throughout the entire year,” Zamastil said.

While the feats of the ‘A’ men’s team drew much of the attention throughout the season, Zamastil highlighted the progress made by the lower-category riders, who he said grew after each race.

Jari Ramon
Ramon Rueda (right), exercise physiology graduate speaks to Jari Vaes after men’s ‘C’ criterium at South Central Collegiate Cycling Championships. Photo by Sharome Burton. March 30.

“We’re not done improving. We definitely saw riders like Sharome Burton [mechanical engineering freshman], Rodrigo Quezada [business freshman], Ramon Rueda [exercise physiology graduate], Brandi Hobson [sports administration graduate], Bianca Zuleta [geosciences sophomore] who within a small season competing in the ‘D’ and ‘C’ categories, went from not being particularly competitive to fighting for the podium [in the season overall point standings],” Zamastil said. “We had Ben [van Winkle, exercise physiology graduate] win the men’s ‘B’ overall championship. He was a model of consistency in the time trials.”

Ben podium flex
Sharome Burton
Ben van Winkle (left) celebrates podium finish in men’s ‘B’ category at South Central Collegiate Cycling Championships. Photo by Sharome Burton. March 31.

Van Winkle, himself a past coach said the team development was one of the prouder things he took from the season.

“I’ve definitely seen the newer riders grow in particular and I also feel that the team has come together in our time racing. As a former coach, that is one of the harder things to achieve – that team unity,” van Winkle said. “One of the most refreshing things was to watch the developmental riders and the advancement of not only the team dynamics but everybody’s fitness.”

He said nurturing the passion of some of his rookie teammates was one of his goals heading to the 2020 collegiate road racing season.

“Along with the experience, I think one of the best things I can do heading into next year is cultivate the development of the newer riders. Being newer to the sport has its advantages and part of that is being passionate and fresh and I think as someone who has been involved in sport for a long time, that the hardest thing is finding that passion,” van Winkle said.

Cycling director Charlie Zamastil said every person should have a share in developing the cycling programme, which he believes is one of the beacons in the community.

“Jump on board. [The cycling program] is one of the best things we have going on in this town and our school, so everyone lend their support in every way that they can. We’re gonna bring Wichita Falls and MSU home something to be proud of,” Zamastil said.


Final individual conference standings:

  • Zach Gregg, exercise physiology graduate, men’s A – first (1,385 points)
  • Pablo Cruz, exercise physiology graduate, men’s A – third (849 points)
  • Brissia Montalvo, exercise physiology graduate, women’s A – fourth (616 points)
  • Joshua Buchel, accounting and finance, men’s A – fifth (543 points)
  • Ben van Winkle, exercise physiology graduate, men’s B – first (448 points)
  • Morgan Ballesteros, physics sophomore, men’s A – eighth (366 points)
  • Alan Barrows, management information systems sophomore, men’s A – 11th (306 points)
  • Amy Floyd, accounting senior, women’s A – eighth – (204 points)
  • Brandi Hobson, sports administration graduate, women’s C – fourth (193 points)
  • Ramon Rueda, exercise physiology graduate, men’s C – fourth (155 points)
  • Bianca Zuleta, geosciences sophomore, women’s C – sixth (139 points)
  • Jari Vaes, men’s C – sixth (118 points)
  • Bridget Reilly, criminal justice and sociology senior, women’s C – eighth (90 points)
  • Sharome Burton, mechanical engineering freshman, men’s D – second (82 points)
  • Angela Streadwick, women’s B – seventh (78 points)
  • Rodrigo Quezada, business freshman, men’s D – eighth (55 points)
  • Cortnie Grauel, accounting and finance senior, women’s C – 14th (30 points)