Para-cycling Track Nationals Conclude From Carson, California
by Todd Kortemeier
Aaron Keith competes at the 2022 Para-cycling Track National Championships.
In what has felt as something of a return to normal after pandemic-altered seasons in 2020 and 2021, the USA Cycling Para-cycling Track National Championships concluded Saturday evening in Carson, California, with the crowning of some more champions, and in many cases, repeat victors.
Kicking off the day was the men’s 1-kilometer time trial as Paralympic medalists Aaron Keith (Woodinville, Washington) in MC1 and Joe Berenyi (Aurora, Illinois) in MC3 each added another national title to the ones they won Friday in pursuit. National teamer Justin Widhalm (Bridgeport, Nebraska), who won gold Friday in team sprint, won another title in taking the MC4 class. And in MC5, Paralympian Chris Murphy (Rancho Cucamonga, California), who had won gold with Widhalm and Keith in the team sprint, took the gold.
The 500-meter time trial awaited next for women, and it came down to another duel between Paralympians, with road world cup champion Samantha Bosco (Claremont, California) and Shawn Morelli (Meadville, Pennsylvania) facing off. Bosco edged out Morelli for the WC4 pursuit on Friday and came out on top again on Saturday over Morelli in the time trial by nearly two seconds. Katie Walker captured the title in WC5.
In tandem sprints, the duo of Justin Sutton (Winter Park, Florida) and Erin Young (Minneapolis, Minnesota) nabbed first place over Hannah Chadwick and Mary-Kate Wintz, with Paul Shields (Meridian, Idaho) and Joseph Matta (Houston, Texas) finishing with bronze.
And finally, in the 10-kilometer scratch, Bryan Larsen (Santa Rosa, California) added another national title to the first one of his career he won Friday. The newcomer in MC5 finished ahead of John Terrell (Converse, Texas) in MC4 and Murphy in MC5. Additionally, Murphy topped Widhalm and Berenyi in the non-championship flying 200-meter and Walker edged Bosco on the women’s side.
The conclusion of nationals marks the conclusion of a quick turnaround period for some athletes as the road season concluded a few short weeks ago with the final world cup followed by the world championships. The unusual schedule — track season typically runs with no overlap of the road season — means athletes have had to make tough decisions. Road time trial world champion Clara Brown, for instance, did not take part in track nationals though she still hopes to compete at the world championships, in October in France. Others trained in both disciplines simultaneously while some instantly switched over at the conclusion of the road season.
“I guess we can compare it to during the (Olympic/Paralympic) Games years, where you have to do both in a 10-, 12-day period,” said U.S. Paralympics Cycling Associate Director of High Performance Sarah Hammer-Kroening, ahead of the national championships. “I think it may be more mental on the switch than physical, in some ways, because you have focus on different things. The start is different, getting on the track and getting that feel back. Those are all important things that need to click back in after you come from the road.
The 2022 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships begin Oct. 20.