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NC/SC State Championships
Flat Rock, NC, December 7, 2002
NC/SC Championships Sends Racers Back to School
By Dahron Johnson
In the kickoff to a great weekend of racing, the North Carolina and South Carolina state championships drew racers from the two states and beyond for some intense and exciting competition. With the snow and ice still paralyzing much of the Carolinas only present in the shade, and with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 40's, the weather assured that only the differences in athletic ability would determine the day's results. Held in Flat Rock, North Carolina-a town some 25 miles south of Asheville-on the grassy fields and side roads of a school for first to fourth graders, the racing was anything but elementary. With the finals of the 2002 98over.com North Carolina Cyclocross Championship Series to be held the following day in nearby Hendersonville, and many key places in those contests yet to be decided, it was the most dedicated racers of the area's cyclocross scene that fought for the gold, silver, and bronze medals in Saturday's events.
In the Men's A race, familiar faces appeared at the starting line, with Cycling Spoken Here's Charlie Storm, Carolina Cyclocross Association/Trek racer Andy Applegate, and East Carolina Velo's John Degele all looking to take the top place on the podium. Indeed, Applegate had already taken the gold medal spot in the immediately preceding Masters 35+ event, then hopped back on the bike to head to the starting line for the A's. In these competitors' path to glory, though, stood a formidable challenger for the outright win. Former USA World Cyclocross team member Toby Swanson-currently racing for Rad Racing NorthWest-happened into the area for the weekend, and looked to keep the pace high and the racing tough. From the gun, the riders were at full tilt, with a long false flat road section doing nothing to slow things down. With the racers tight together on the opening lap, and plenty of tricky off-camber twists and turns in loamy, often mucky, grass, the rider entanglements that occurred were not surprising. However, things quickly sorted themselves out, and unsurprisingly, Swanson started to pull away. Unwilling to so quickly admit defeat, and with his efforts in the previous race obviously not hindering him too badly, Andy Applegate continued with his best day of the 2002 season. While he could not manage to best Swanson in the end, Applegate still came across the line as the first North Carolina competitor, securing his second gold medal on the day. Behind him, Charlie Storm finished in third, good enough for silver. John Degele fought hard, taking the bronze as the third NC racer across the line, fourth overall. James Wilson, riding for Earthfare, proved conclusively that sometimes last place really is better than it appears, and took home the gold medal as SC state champion for his efforts and hanging in to finish fourteenth.
Lauren Trull of the Carolina Cyclocross Association/Trek squad demonstrated that she is coming into good form for what will be a tough race at next week's national championships in Napa, California. The fifteen year old Trull bested her two competitors from throughout the season, taking yet another state championship title. In so doing, Trull notched her third win in what has been a rather up and down season; if only the rest of us could have such "off" seasons. Taking silver was the 98over.com series leader, Cara McCauley, and rounding out the top three-but as a South Carolina resident, managing to take home the gold for her work-was Earthfare racer Adrienne Brown. The import of the next day's race may well have helped determine the action here, as McCauley held only a tenuous lead over Brown, and was still well within Trull's reach. Regardless, it was a fitting result for three closely matched competitors.
As noted above, Andy Applegate decided to have a go in the Masters 35+ event, and with the category's regular powerhouse, Dr. Rob Moran of Cycling Spoken Here, unfortunately on call for the whole of the weekend, Applegate sailed to a rather straight-forward victory. Martin Visser, who had previously only competed in the Boone and Asheville events this season, rode impressively to take second and the silver medal. Micahel Scholtz, who had won the last two races in which he had participated, took the bronze. Surprisingly absent from the top three was Sandhills Cycling's Marcus Jones. Jones came in fourth, but may have been riding conservatively, for with Moran unable to compete the following day, Jones suddenly had a shot at taking the overall title if he could take first or second in Sunday's event. For South Carolina, Glenn Poupoure took fifth overall and the gold medal for his state. In the Master's 45+ race, things fell out much as they had all season long, with Hearts Racing hard man, Randy Shields, taking the win and the gold for North Carolina, with Tarheel Cyclists' Arthur Reaves arriving in second and nabbing the silver, and Arthur Mills of Alamance Bicycle Club/Elon Bike Shop holding strong for the bronze in third.
Jarrett Deerwester, racing for Sandhills Cycling Club, proved he was the year's closest thing to a phenom, handily winning the Men's B event by almost two and a half minutes. Deerwester started the season as a C racer on something akin to a Schwinn Varsity ten-speed, complete with shifters on the stem. When that first race turned out to be a rather lackluster and frustrating affair, he went out, bought a cyclocross bike, and then proceeded to win handily the next three series events. He then moved up to the B-men's category, and wreaked the same path of destruction. Hot off two convincing wins in Pinehurst and Cary, Deerwester easily won the NC champion's gold medal. Luckily for spectators, the race for the remaining podium places provided neck-to-neck action from the second lap on, and in the end, was decided in just the last 25 meters. Cycling Spoken Here's Taylor Jones, who only had to finish the next day's series final in fifteenth or better to take the overall title, quickly settled into second place on the course. However, after a predictably slow start, Dahron Johnson of the Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet squad began to gain ground on Jones, leapfrogging from rider to rider. By the end of the second lap, the two were together for the duration, with barely a yard's daylight separating them at any point. Johnson, though, did the majority of sitting in, and with the last run up behind him, snuck around Jones on the next to last bit of pavement. Jones got right back on his wheel in a muddy, slightly off-camber turn, but Johnson had saved enough to power up the slight rise before the finish, and sped away in the last 50 feet, taking second place and the silver medal. Jones came in right behind, securing the bronze. For South Carolina, Adam Dewitt's eighth place was good enough for him to earn gold.
In the C men, Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet's Matt Skeen continued his winning ways by following last week's Cary win with a NC gold medal performance in Flat Rock. Chris Wade, racing for Carolina Cyclocross Association/Trek, came across the line in second and garnered a silver. Mark Scholtz held on for the bronze in third. Rounding out the race action, Patricia Durrell took the Women's B North Carolina Gold medal, with her series nemesis, Janet Trubey, following on her heels to take the silver in second. In the Juniors, South Carolina's Tyler Crabtree took the win and the gold for his state, proving that there is some up-and-coming cross talent to keep an eye out for. Crabtree was followed by Fit To Be Tried's Daniel Dinkins, who earned himself a NC Championship Gold medal for his ride.
With the medals dispersed, racers quickly found their way to food and rest, hoping to recuperate in time for the series finale the following day five miles up the road in Hendersonville. Would the day's efforts weigh heavily on these racers shoulders, or would their systems be already primed and ready? Could Andy Applegate and Lauren Trull repeat their performances? Would Shields and Deerwester once again walk away? For the moment, though, these questions and worries lay obscured in the background, as the late-day sun reflected off newly awarded gold, silver, and bronze, reminding all of the excitement of the day's events.
A Men - 14 riders 1 Toby Swanson (Rad Racing Northwest) 58.28 2 Andy Applegate (Carolina Cyclocross Association/Trek) (NC Gold) 3 Charles Storm (Cycling Spoken Here) (NC Silver) 4 John Degele (East Carolina Velo) (NC Bronze) 5 Colin Barry (Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet) 6 Daniel Doub (Cycling Spoken Here) 7 Jason Morgan (Asheville Bicycle Racing Club) 8 Rich Harper (Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet) 9 Chris Herndon (Lindsey Wilson College) 10 Tim Hopkin (Asheville Bicycle Racing Club) 11 Josh Conner (Lindsey Wilson College) 12 Drew Shelter (Unattached) 13 Wes Dickson (Sycamore Cycles) 14 James Wilson (Earthfare) (SC Gold) A Women - 5 riders 1 Lauren Trull (Carolina Cyclocross Association/Trek/Earthfare) 48.39 (NC Gold) 2 Cara McCauley (Asheville Bicycle Racing Club) (NC Silver) 3 Adrienne Brown (Earthfare) (SC Gold) Masters 35+ - 6 riders 1 Andy Applegate (Carolina Cyclocross Association/Trek) 45.08 (NC Gold) 2 Martin Visser (Nantahala Outdoor Center) (NC Silver) 3 Michael Scholtz (Defeet Racing) (NC Bronze) 4 Marcus Jones (Sandhills Cycling Club) 5 Glenn Poupoure (Team Michelin) (SC Gold) Masters 45+ - 6 riders 1 Randy Shields (Hearts Racing) 50.14 (NC Gold) 2 Arthur Reeves (OLP Racing) (NC Silver) 3 Albert Mills (Alamance Bike Club/Elon Bike Shop) (NC Bronze) 4 Kerry Shields (Hearts Racing) 5 Dean Lyons (Boone Bike & Touring) 6 Steve Baker (Spin Cycle Racing) B Men - 8 riders 1 Jarrett Deerwester (Sandhills Cycling Club) 47.44 (NC Gold) 2 Dahron Johnson (Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet) (NC Silver) 3 Taylor Jones (Cycling Spoken Here) (NC Bronze) 4 Timothy "Bo" Glenn (Cycling Spoken Here) 5 Erik Stalte (Asheville Fire Department) 6 Lonnie Brooks (Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet) 7 Donald Taylor (Unattached) 8 Adam DeWitt (Lees McRae College) (SC Gold) C Men - 6 riders 1 Matt Skeen (Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet) 31.11 (NC Gold) 2 Chris Wade (Carolina Cyclocross Association/Trek) (NC Silver) 3 Mark Scholtz (DeFeet Racing) (NC Bronze) 4 Howard Parsons (Tarheel Cyclists) 5 Howard Rhyne (Sandhills Cycling Club) B Women - 5 riders 1 Patricia Durrell (Sandhills Cycling Club) 30.12 (NC Gold) 2 Janet Trubey (Asheville Bicycle Racing Club) (NC Silver) Juniors - 2 riders 1 Tyler Crabtree (Harrell's Bicycles) 32.01 (SC Gold) 2 Daniel Dinkins (Fit To Be Tried) (NC Gold)