By Abner Miralda
The University of Louisville mountain bike squad traveled to Indianapolis to earn nine total podium finishes including two wins by James Francisco at the Mid West Collegiate Cycling Conference race weekend hosted by Marian University.
On Saturday, freshman James Francisco powered into third place in the B’s Short Track Cross Country race, earning his first result of the weekend. He went on to earn either a podium or a win in every event he entered. Fellow freshman teammate Josh Smithson crossed behind him in 4th place.
Foregoing the cyclocross scene this weekend, Kelsey Voit competed in her first collegiate mountain bike race. She used her ‘cross skills to secure 2nd place in the B’s Short Track race, the best women’s result the mountain bike team has earned to date.
Later in the day, Francisco won the Men’s B Four-Cross, a similar event to BMX racing, edging out teammate Kalem Fetters who settled for second. In the Men’s A Mark Renn was eliminated before the final round, finishing with the 5th best time of the day.
In the Men’s C, sophomore Matt Robertson, making his collegiate debut, led the final heat but crashed out, crossing the line in 4th without injury. Freshman Charlie Hamilton saved the event for the Cardinals with a 3rd place finish.
The following day in the Cross Country race, Francisco displayed his fitness once again by earning 3rd place finish in the Men’s B category through a twisty single track course that featured a steep gravel climb with a brutal 30% grade. Teammates Smithson and Abner Miralda followed thereafter finishing 6th and 7th respectively.
Voit willed her bike down the fast, flowing descents of the course into a 3rd place finish in the Women’s B while Elijah Eisert slotted into 7th in the Men’s C category.
Francisco who has become a top rider for the Cardinals this season, finished the weekend with a win in the Men’s B Downhill.
“The [course] had some awesome jumps,” he said of the rolling, pump-heavy course. “I liked how it had some riskier options.”
He beat 2nd place finisher and teammate Kalem Fetters in the Men’s B final by four seconds with a time of 1:22. The result was only two seconds slower than teammate Mark Renn who styled his way down the trail into 5th place in the Men’s A event.
In the Men’s C race, Robertson closed his weekend with a 3rd place run of 1:32, beating 4th place finisher and teammate Hamilton by a solitary second. Eisert chased soon after, earning 5th with a time of 1:48.
Francisco credited the squad for the results. “It’s a great group of people who love fun and helping out their teammates.”
The Cardinals will race next at Lindsey Wilson College on Oct. 1&2 in a Dual-Conference event with the South Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference.
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