by JP Severin
Either way, we got to Lubbock no worse for wear and met up with the MSU and U Dub teams. We made friends and schemed about the post race drinking.
It was awesome to see the Michigan State team. We tweaked our bikes at our hotel and jogged around working out the nerves. Our former president and physically challenged world champion, Aaron Scheidies, called to rally the troops. He challenged us to race with passion and smile through the pain, then played the Spartan Fight Song over the phone. After that, Aaron Bachman, our coach and one of our top racers, told the team to focus and give 100% every second of the race. I got a chance to talk to the team as well, and talked about being confident in their training. I told them to lay their hearts out in this race and to take chances because you can't reach your limits without risking blowing to bits.
In 2007 Chris Mccormack was running up on Norman Stadler and finished second 70 seconds behind. People said to him, "if the race were a mile longer, it was yours." He laughed it off saying, "Mate, if the it were a mile longer, I wouldn't have finished the damn race." This really stuck with me. There is no shame in bonking, there is only shame knowing you could have done more. I watched as the team digested what we had said. Pure focus.
Race morning was about 45 degrees. We rolled up to the race site and groggily got marked, put bikes in transition, and sipped Gatorade. The water was 54 degrees, and it felt like cats were scratching your face when you dipped your head in the water. The sprint race went off and our races represented State in the worst conditions. Several people were dragged off the bike course from hypothermia. It was absolutely ridiculous. Chris Gelinas, a good buddy from MSU, said he couldn't put his bike shoes on because his fingers were frozen in a raptor claw position.
The Olympic race went off and John Dahlz from California, Nick Vandam from Army, Derek Oskutis from Navy led out of the water. Aaron Bachman, was in the first wave and followed closely about 10 spots back. The bike course was pretty windy and made the splits embarrasingly slow. Dahlz ripped the bike and led by over a minute. He hung on to win by about 20 seconds over Oskutis who ran like a sleek weasel. Our first guy across the line was Matt Inch in 12th. He had a rock solid race and was consistent through the whole day. Anthony Klingler, our forth male, finished strong despite having a chipped bone in his foot. I was proud of his effort as he hit the line looking absolutely demolished. The girls' race saw Jessica Broderick from CU Boulder come out of nowhere to smash the field and heavy favorite Ashley Morgan. Jackie Brosius, an MSU chica I saw on the course, spent all her chips and raced really strongly. The girls all came in around the same time of 2:40 and change, placing them 10th in the nation (out of about 70 teams), which was the highest place ever! The guys took fifth behind powerhouses Navy, Cal, Army, and Colorado. Co-Ed, we took 7th, which was the highest ever!
My surrogate team UCLA also had a stellar day with killer races from 19-year-old Brad Jacobs who destroyed the run with a blazing 33 minute 10k. UCLA club president, David Quiros was solid all around and will smash his goal of two hours very soon. Brittany Day took forth overall in the girls' race. She is unbelievably tough and it was great to see her place so high.
The awards ceremony was an absolute spectacle. Every college was attempting to out do one another. Alabama was clad only in Speedos and holsters for the cap guns they were firing off every chance they got. The Army crew were the loud meat heads you expect. California cheered with an exceptional lack of creativity as their results spoke for themselves. Cal Poly grinded on the race director, which was a stroke of pure genius and MSU cheered like the well-oiled war machine we are. Alabama came out on top for their sheer lack of self-respect and funny creativity.
The teams dispersed from Lubbock the following day, wildly hungover and sleep deprived. It was my last race as a Spartan and I am proud of the team. We placed well, but more than that, we raced harder than ever. Hopefully, this will become the standard at MSU. We may not be the fastest, but we have a ton of guts and we showed that at Nationals.