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    April 28, 2022 College Park, Md. RSS |

    After winning Saturday’s Women’s A Road Race at the Atlantic Coast Cycling Conference (ACCC) Championships in Poolesville, Md., Liberty University graduate Bethany Matsick recovered from a crash in the Men’s A Pro Category 1-2 race of Sunday’s Route 1 Rampage Criterium — hosted by the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. — to lap the 11-cyclist Women’s A field while dealing with her injuries and damage to her bike.

    “She was bandaged up and she rode solo off the front and would have lapped the field twice had her bike not been broken,” Liberty Head Coach Timo Budarz said, noting that the accident also destroyed her carbon-soled cycling shoes and digital computer that tracked her mileage and heart rate. “Her left front brake wasn’t even working, and she felt it dragging throughout the race.”

    Budarz and senior Freddie Shashaty finished sixth and eighth, respectively, after Matsick swerved and crashed to avoid the motorcycle monitoring the race.

    “The USA Cycling official made an aggressive move that forced Bethany out of her cornering line,” Budarz said. “Her point wasn’t to be a mover or a shaker in that race. The big reason she was doing it was for the sake of competition, to practice for the women’s race and have the experience of being in a bigger pack with aggressive riders. You don’t expect the motorcycle to be (the cause of a crash).”

    Neither Matsick nor Budarz were aware that she had sustained a concussion in the wreck.

    “She wasn’t dizzy or vomiting,” he said. “Her head hurt a little bit, but she figured that was because she had just crashed. She was mostly just frustrated and took it out on the other girls and released her fury as she lapped the field.”

    Budarz and Matsick are hopeful she can still compete in the May 6-8 USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships in Augusta, Ga., which will feature road races and criteriums with fields between 70-100 cyclists.

    Matsick was the ACCC women’s A points leader with 490 points following her first-place road and criterium finishes at the North Carolina State and Maryland race weekends. Shashaty finished 10th in the ACCC men’s A road racing standings with 240 points.

    “She has won every collegiate and open race she’s gone to this season,” Budarz said of Matsick, noting that she has also competed in a few Hincapie Spring Series races in the Southeast and currently holds the women’s points lead.

    In Saturday’s combined Women’s A Pro 1-2 road race, Matsick conserved her energy by riding with the lead pack before winning a sprint finish. Shashaty did not complete his Men’s A Pro 1-2 road race due to a flat tire sustained over a 1.2-mile unpaved stretch of the course, but was still awarded 10th place before his eighth-place criterium finish.

    “He was nearly successful in a three-man breakaway, but after seven laps got caught by the (rest of the) field just before the last lap of the race,” Budarz said.

    Junior Miller Cimba finished 10th in the Men’s C road race, before placing seventh in Sunday’s Men’s C criterium.

    As Collegiate A-level cyclists with at least four starts this spring, both Matsick and Shashaty qualified for nationals and are planning to miss Liberty’s 49th Commencement, set for May 5-7, in order to compete.

    Shashaty may have his best shot of placing in Friday’s men’s varsity individual time trial, on a relatively hilly 22.2-kilometer course, whereas Matsick could be among the favorites in Saturday’s challenging four-lap, 96.6K women’s varsity road race and Sunday’s 70-minute criterium on the flat streets of downtown Augusta. Shashaty must race one additional lap for a 120.7K men’s varsity road race and 10 extra minutes in the men’s varsity criterium.

    Budarz said Shashaty, who was selected as the Male Perseverance Athlete of the Year at Wednesday night’s Club Sports Choice Awards, is hoping to be picked up by a domestic pro road cycling team this summer.

    Meanwhile, Matsick, winner of the Female Athlete of the Year at last spring’s awards banquet, is vying for a spot on the U.S. National Track Cycling team, in women’s individual or team pursuit. This past fall, she traveled on her own to Indianapolis to compete in the USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships only to test positive for COVID-19 on the day she arrived.

     By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

    Senior Freddie Shashaty turns a corner in the Men’s A Pro Cat. 1-2 Criterium, in which he finished eighth.