The UCSB cycling team will have to wait for next year to make an appearance at Nationals after finishing out its season with a seventh place showing at last weekend’s Western Collegiate Cycling Conference Regionals in Reno, Nev.
Santa Barbara finished in seventh place overall in the conference this year, improving from last season’s ninth place finish.
First-year graduate student Keith Kirkwood took top honors for the team, earning the men’s C leaders jersey for the season. The award is given to the top finisher in each conference category who shows success over the season.
“[The jersey] was good for the team. I think that is shows that our team is better than last year overall,” Kirkwood said. “We’re not too disappointed that it was our last race, it was a long season.”
Kirkwood also placed third in the men’s C criterium and fourth in the men’s C road race at Regionals.
Another highlight for Santa Barbara was second-year Matt Post, who broke away from the peloton at the start line and managed to hold on for a 50-mile breakaway before the pack caught up with him.
Also finishing for UCSB was graduate student Aaron Patterson, who took sixth place in the men’s B criterium. Patterson had high hopes to take the men’s B leaders jersey but fell behind in his most recent races.
“I wasn’t going to be strong enough to win the race in the pack, so I thought I would go off the front of the pack because they’re not even going to bother to chase me with 80 miles to go so as soon as the race started [I rode] as hard as I could,” Patterson said.
Patterson and a rider from Berkeley and Stanford, respectively, extended their lead to as many as nine minutes before they were joined by a rider from Davis. After about 50 miles Patterson fell back.
“At the 48 mile point, I was totally expended and was passed by the pack,” Patterson said. “It’s something that I’ve never done before. I’ve always been the kind of person who sits back until the end of the race […] but I wanted to try something new at the end of the year.”
“It was somewhat disappointing. I was leading the first 10 races of the year. I was in first place so it was looking pretty good but in the last four races I came down with a cold at the same time as several other people on the team. I was really hurting and I got caught,” Patterson said. “It’s all good, I had a good season.”
In the women’s races sophomore Rachael Olsufka was the only Gaucho to finish and took fifth place in the women’s B criterium. Senior Lana Erickson did not finish her race due to technical difficulties.
“I don’t know how I finished overall [in the conference] yet but I’m hoping it was sixth or seventh,” Olsufka said. “I felt that it was one of my best races this year. It was one of the most competitive races of the whole races so I’m very happy with my results.”
Post and junior co-captain Karl Neilson are second and third on the waiting list for Nationals, respectively. Some members of the team will compete this summer in non-collegiate races before returning to training in the fall.