The Dual Slalom finals at the 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Angel Fire, Sunday (Oct. 21) were raced on a fast, dusty, curvy, tight, bumpy, technical quarter-mile course.  

The course for the gravity event was certainly shorter than the endurance race courses, but bikers who reached the podium had to race 10 times in a 2 1/2-hour span. 

“I’m from San Diego so this altitude is killing me,” Marian University’s Bryce Hocking said. “I’m exhausted.”

Hocking kept winning, however, and after a while he needed his teammates to push his bike back up the hill to the starting gates so he could save his energy for the downhill.

Eventually Hocking found himself in the Division I final, racing the defending national champ, the University of Colorado’s Joey Schusler. 

The two bikers were even the entire way down the course, but Schusler finished ahead of him in the first heat by .35 seconds.

After losing the first heat, Hocking said he knew he had to hit every corner perfect, hit all the jumps the way he wanted and get in every pedal stroke he could to overtake Schusler. 

The second heat was just as close as the first one, but Hocking pulled out the upset to win the DI Dual Slalom national championship. 

“It was crazy,” Hocking said. “I knew I had a chance, but I had to put the ultimate lap together.”

Schusler was also the defending Downhill national champ, but finished third in that event. Schusler may not have won any national titles in individual events, but his Dual Slalom performance pushed him ahead of Fort Lewis College’s Rotem Ishay for the DI Omnium title, which goes to the biker with the highest combined score from the two endurance races and the two gravity races. 

Ishay and his Skyhawk teammates, however, won national titles in five out of the eight events, including all four endurance titles, to finish 76 points ahead of Colorado and win the team championship with 701 points. Ishay and teammate Lauren Catlin won the short-track cross-country titles. Howard Grotts and Catlin won the cross-country titles while Brittany Clawson won the Downhill for Fort Lewis. The other two DI national champs were John Swanguen, who won the Downhill for Lindsey Wilson College, and his teammate Stephanie Caluag, who won the Dual Slalom. 

Marian (445), Lees-McCrae (439) and Wyoming (434) rounded out the top-five DI schools. 

Jill Behlen reached the podium in all four events to win the DI women’s Omnium title for Wyoming. 

Taos’ Rowan Bateman competed in the Downhill championships for Cornell University. Bateman qualified 28th in the DH competition and moved up to 17th in the Downhill final on Oct. 20, scoring all of Cornell’s 31 points to help the Big Red finish 29th as a team. 

The University of New Mexico finished 18th out of the 36 DI schools competing. Terah Blake had the best result for UNM, finishing fifth in DH.  

Gaffney, Brevard win DII championship

Team F.I. Taos’ Lewis Gaffney helped Brevard College (N.C.) win the DII national team title. 

Gaffney earned national runner-up honors in the cross-country race, finishing the 18.8-mile course in two hours, 24 seconds, just over a minute behind teammate Richard Cypress Gorry. Gaffney also finished sixth in the short track cross-country race, which Gorry also won. Brevard College scored big in the endurance races to win the DII team title with 629 points. Union College, Kentucky, finished second (588) while Western State Colorado University scored big in the gravity events to finish third (421). 

Michigan Tech’s Paul Mayes defended his DII Dual Slalom title by beating Western State Colorado University’s Owen Tulip. Mayes and Tulip also went 1-2 in the Downhill competition. 

Wesley Lamberson of Union College won the DII Omnium title while Essence Barton, from California Lutheran, won the Dual Slalom to help her win the women’s Omnium. 

Cal-State Chico’s Ariana Altier won the DH title. Rebecca Gross from the University of Denver claimed the short-track cross-country title and Colorado Mesa University’s Alexis Skarda won the DII cross-country national championship. 

sports@taosnews.com

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