In most sports, one team usually gets the home court advantage. The stands are packed and the field is familiar; the air is always electric at home games, with loud cheers and chants from the crowd, encouraging their team to fight for victory. However, cycling usually lacks that classic home court edge, as each racer is as relatively unacquainted to the course as the next and spectators chants can barely be heard as the riders charge through the wind at speeds of over 25 mph. But unlike most of their other races, the Jesuit cycling team felt that home court advantage as they raced in the Jesuit Ranger Roundup presented by the Jesuit cycling team on March 20, 2016.
Races began at the usual time under the usual conditions: the early hour of 8 o’clock with a temperature of 38°F with strong winds from the north. Dedicated cycling coach Andrew Armstrong started his day at 4 AM by heading up to Celina, TX (about 33 miles straight north of Jesuit) to prepare for the long day ahead. Racers whose races started at 8 began showing up at 6:30 to get their numbers pinned, to put on many layers to block the cold, and to warm up their legs before the race. Jesuit was unusually undermanned due to academic and personal conflicts from the racers, but that didn’t hurt junior Jake Ingram’s optimism for the day’s events, stating “Even without some of our key riders, I still feel like we’re one of the best high school cycling teams in the state.”
Once the riders assembled themselves in their respective groups for pre-race staging, they rode through the 1 mile neutral start and then turned onto the racecourse, where “the fun began,” exclaimed Evan Bausbacher ‘17. There are three divisions in the Texas High School Cycling League (TXHSCL): varsity, junior varsity, and novice. The three races started within minutes of each other, but the starts were staggered so the different groups wouldn’t meet on the course. First off, Jesuit’s novice squad was missing three key racers Jose Moreno ‘18, Noah Holben ‘19, and Cristobal De Orzabal ‘19, leaving freshman Benije Salazar as Jesuit’s only hope for victory, and although he didn’t make it into the top 3, he made his teammates and his coaches proud in his very first bike race. Then for JV, Kolbe Surran ‘18 fought hard against riders from St. Mark’s and Bishop Lynch, earning a well deserved 6th place. Dalton Walters ‘16 told the Roundup that he is “proud” of Surran for his progression thus far into the season.
In the main event of the scholastic races, riders from Jesuit shined in the varsity road race, riding 42 miles on the 10.5 mile course in Celina. The varsity team missed their star sprinter Dalton Walters ‘16, but had to persevere in order to hold off riders from Rockwall ISD and Cistercian. On the start line, Coach Armstrong made the controversial move of splitting up his own team into two squads that would battle against each other, a move that leveled the playing field, since before the split 50% of the racers were racing for Jesuit. The team of Hugo Scala ‘16 and Jake Ingram was set to battle against not only the other racers, but also their fellow varsity teammates, Evan Bausbacher ‘17, Thomas Whitaker ‘17, and Jake Wilson ‘16. The race started relatively calmly with the team of Scala and Ingram controlling the pack and setting a hard pace for the rest of the peloton, and it seemed like it would continue until a field sprint at the finish line, but Rockwall racer Bryan Burpee attacked the bunch with 17 miles to go. Unfortunately for Burpee, he crossed the yellow line onto the wrong side of the road, illegally making his move. Warned of his actions and relegated back to the pack, the Jesuit teams and Burpee kicked up the pace and began to drop the other riders. With 4 miles to go, tactical genius Evan Bausbacher ‘17 instructed his teammate Thomas Whitaker ‘17 to “stay on [Burpee’s] wheel. And if anyone attacks, you’ve gotta go with them.” And sure enough, with about 2 miles to go, Bryan launched his attack and Whitaker stuck with him like glue. Whitaker tactically decided not to assist his enemy by aiding him with his patented “suction cup” like draft, as Bausbacher describes it. The three Jesuit riders, Scala, Ingram, and Bausbacher, reeled the two breakaway riders in within a mile from the finish, leaving Burpee fatigued and too weak to win a sprint against any of them. This allowed Bausbacher to launch past the rest of the riders and “dab” on the finish line. At the end of the race, the podium had Bausbacher on top at 1st, Ingram in 2nd, and Scala rounding out the entirely Jesuit podium at 3rd. This victory put Bausbacher in the lead for the season overall and he now wears the ‘yellow jersey’ to signify his leg up on his rivals.
After their successful races, the student-athletes spent the rest of the day volunteering and helping Coach Armstrong put on another successful race in Celina for the 11th straight year.
Be sure to stay tuned to the Roundup for continued coverage of Jesuit cycling’s 2016 season!