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    May 23, 2023 Colorado Springs, Colo. RSS |

    Former Liberty University cycling team member Bethany Matsick-Ingram (’22) is in Colorado Springs, Colo., for this week’s Team USA track cycling training camp, seeking one of five spots on the squad that will compete in the June 14-18 Pan American Track Championships in San Juan, Argentina.

    After being added to Team USA’s track cycling roster following a Talent ID camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., in mid-November, Matsick-Ingram has been on a rollercoaster ride over the past six months as she has been training for a potential bid to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

    “I was really excited about it,” Matsick-Ingram said of making the team. “When I competed in the individual pursuit at last year’s U.S. (Elite Track Cycling) Nationals (in Trexlertown, Pa., last July), the national team coach (Gary Sutton), was at that event, and based on that, he told me I had a very good chance of moving forward.”

    Matsick paces the pack followed by Team USA B squad riders Danielle Morshead, Shayna Powless and Elizabeth Stevenson last month in Milton, Canada.

    She won an individual silver medal and gold in the team pursuit at the same event the previous year, her first competing on the track. The Talent ID camp was an excellent opportunity for Matsick to test herself against some of the nation’s best, and she passed with flying colors.

    “At the selection camp, she blew them out of the water by winning almost everything over a period of 10 days,” Liberty cycling Head Coach Timo Budarz said.

    “We did a bunch of different workouts, as well as lab testing and team-focused workouts,” Matsick-Ingram added.

    She has stunned many with her rapid rise in the sport after only beginning to cycle competitively as a graduate student in 2021 following a successful swimming career in high school.

    “It is exciting to be able to race with the national team, which was a dream goal when I started cycling,” she said. “To see that become a reality in such a short time is surprising as not many people know who I am. Track cycling has been in the Olympics for quite a while and that’s the dream.”

    Before traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia, in mid-February, for the first of three World Cup track cycling events leading up to the July 5-9 World Championships in Los Angeles and Oct. 20-Nov. 5 Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, Matsick-Ingram experienced an adverse reaction to her COVID-19 vaccination. Though she had contracted COVID twice previously, she took the vaccine because she believed it was required and she wound up getting the disease twice more — first while training in Spain, which forced her to pull out of the World Cup races in Cairo, Egypt, in March.

    “She got back to the U.S. and saw a cardiologist and pulmonologist,” Budarz said. “Whether she was fighting against COVID or a vaccine injury, the standard medicine wasn’t going to do very much, so they put her on a slew of supplements, and her chest pains have subsided.”

    Matsick-Ingram (right) earned a gold medal with her team pursuit squad at last summer’s U.S. Elite Track Championships in Trexlertown, Pa.

    “I pretty much have long COVID, which includes cardio-vascular symptoms,” Matsick-Ingram said. “At the beginning, in January, I could only ride 30 minutes per week. I caught COVID again in March, but thankfully, I have been getting better, at least more normal, and I have been able to ride more. Now I’m back to closer to what I used to do, closer to 12 hours per week, compared to riding 16-17 hours per week before that.”

    She competed at the third World Cup event held in Milton, Canada.

    “I was on Team USA’s B team there, as I was not fully back to normal, but still better than Indonesia in terms of how I was feeling, and both our (A and B) teams did well,” Matsick-Ingram said.

    The team pursuit involves four cyclists racing in formation, rotating in and out of the front drafting position, for 4-kilometer races that last just over 4 minutes.

    “Everybody starts from a standing start, so you need a lot of power to get up to full speed,” Matsick-Ingram said, noting that the women’s world record, set by a German team, is 4:04. “Even at 4 minutes, endurance is still a factor. You need all of it to be good at the team pursuit. You all race together to get the fastest time possible.”

    Though the individual pursuit is not a Summer Olympic event, Matsick-Ingram could have the opportunity to compete in that at the Pan Am Championships as well as at the USA Cycling Track National Championships, at the Velo Sports Center in Carson, Calif., where she will be racing for her St. Louis-based trade team for the first time.

    Matsick-Ingram does the majority of her training on the road and averages two sessions per day on the track three days per week, but at this week’s training camp, most of the riding will be on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Velodrome.

    Her husband, former Flames cycling teammate Gunnar Ingram (’21), serves in the U.S. Army, based out of Fort Carson. They live in nearby Fountain, Colo., which is located a half-hour’s drive from Colorado Springs at an elevation of 5,545 feet.

    “The elevation has made issues from COVID a bit worse, and when I go to race closer to sea level, that is a bit better, but it is great to be near the Olympic Training Center and the Velodrome (7-11 Olympic Center),” Mattsick-Ingram said.

    Matsick first tested positive for COVID-19 on the day she arrived in Indianapolis for the Fall 2021 USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships, preventing her from competing in that event. She remains hopeful that, with continued training and healing from the Lord, she can return to her top form in the near future and take her cycling to the next level by next year.

    “(Health) setbacks have made the timetable a little tighter, but there is definitely still a chance,” Matsick said of qualifying for the five-woman Olympic team pursuit squad. “The coaches know everything that’s been going on with me over the past few months and have been very patient with the timeline. It’s still possible, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it a reality. Things are trending in the right direction now, really with all of it, (but) that’s in the Lord’s hands.”

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

    Matsick-Ingram (right) leads the way at her first World Cup race at Jakarta, Indonesia, in February.