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ANGEL FIRE, New Mexico (VN) — Four different colleges collected downhill crowns on Saturday during the 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships.
In the first gravity event of the championships racers plummeted a thousand feet over the 1.5-mile course at the Angel Fire Resort.
John Swanguen of Lindsey Wilson College earned the last starting position after qualifying with the best time (2:42.17) on Friday. He improved on that time to secure the Division I national championship with a time of 2:38.46 on Saturday.
Adam Digby (Fort Lewis College) turned a 2:38.65 to earn the silver medal while defending national champion Joey Schusler (University of Colorado-Boulder) had to settle for bronze in 2:39.73.
“This feels really great,” Swanguen said. “This is my first year racing collegiate at Lindsey Wilson. I didn’t know what to expect. I couldn’t ask too much. I’m definitely stoked with my performance today. I put down a solid run and handled it.”
Brittany Clawson (Fort Lewis College) was the last rider down the mountain in the women’s DI race — and she posted the fastest time of 3:17.99, more than 10 seconds better than runner-up Madison Pitts (Lindenwood University), who hit the line in 3:28.85.
“It was really fast and hard,” a jubilant Clawson said at the end of her run. “It’s the fastest I’ve ever gone. We had such a solid girls team this year, it’s so exciting to be a part of it. It was really cool to have five girls racing downhill. That’s unbelievable. Our team is so awesome.”
Defending dual slalom champ Paul Mayes (Michigan Technological University) grabbed the downhill national title, posting a time of 2:45.60, edging out Owen Tulip (Western State Colorado University) by three seconds.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Mayes of his run. “I was sliding everywhere but I held on. It was awesome.”
Ariana Altier (California State University-Chico) registered an astounding time of 3:11.32 to win the women’s competition, in which each of the last three riders bettered the previous contestant’s time.
Erica Zaveta (Brevard College) turned a 3:46.35 to temporarily occupy the hot seat. Then Essence Barton (California Lutheran University) bettered that by 16 seconds. Altier topped her mark by 18 seconds to earn the first national championship of her career.
“This feels pretty good,” Altier said. “I’m probably going to celebrate by going to the hot tub and write a paper that’s due on Monday.”
Editor’s note: Sunday brings the dual slalom and the awards for individual and team omnium winners.