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    July 28, 2022 Breinigsville, Pa. RSS |

    Liberty University graduate student Bethany Matsick, a member of the Lady Flames’ cycling team, broke the 26-year-old track record in qualifying before capturing the gold medal in the 3,000-meter women’s pursuit at the U.S. Elite Track Cycling National Championships, Wednesday night at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center near Trexlertown, Pa., one of the premier velodromes in the United States.

    “That might have been her last race with an opportunity to still be a Liberty University student, and if so, it was a nice way for her to return here to cap off her collegiate cycling career,” Liberty Head Coach Timo Budarz said. “The track has hosted international events and all of the world’s fastest riders over the past 25 years.”

    Matsick, who is on schedule to complete her master’s degree through the School of Engineering in December after graduating with a B.S. in Mathematics in 2020, dominated Wednesday morning’s qualifying, finishing first out of 11 cyclists in the 3,000-meter race (nine laps over the 333 1/3-meter track) by more than 12 seconds in 3 minutes, 38.262 seconds. She shattered the track record (3:41.3) set in 1996 by U.S. Olympian and then-reigning world champion Rebecca Twigg by more than three seconds while lapping reigning champion Elizabeth Stevenson.

    “To my knowledge, it is now the fastest women’s 3K time recorded on any outdoor track in the country,” Matsick wrote in a post on her Instagram page. “I am so thankful for everyone who has helped me in this and believed in me more than I believed in myself. There is no way I could have done it alone.”

    Matsick dons the gold medal she won in the time trial at the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships in Georgia in early May.

    Then in the finals, starting on the opposite side of the track from the second-fastest qualifier Leia Genis, representing the Atlanta-based Shop Racing team, Matsick fended off her opponent to win the gold medal in 3:46.762. That was nearly five seconds faster than Genis (3:51.547), who had bumped Stevenson to the bronze medal race and was later disqualified.

    Complete results are available online.

    At last year’s event, only three months after being certified to race on a velodrome, Matsick posted the fastest time by more than two seconds in qualifying before losing to Stevenson by three seconds in the gold medal pursuit.

    Matsick has remained in peak training condition since winning the women’s time trial at the May 6 USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships in Augusta, Ga.

    “She’s been doing some pro level criterium racing as a guest rider with two different teams over the last few weeks, traveling all over the country, as far away as Idaho,” Budarz said.

    Matsick, from Warrington, Pa., is one of only two female riders on the Bike Works powered by Fred Beans cycling team in nearby Doylestown, Pa., and is eligible to compete in the USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships in Indianapolis on Sept. 8. However, after turning 24 earlier this month, she is soon to be married and plans to move to her fiancé’s home state of Colorado before then, where she could potentially train with Team USA’s track cycling program.

    “I told her (last season) my plan was to get her on Team USA, and right after her pursuit, a representative from the national team came over and talked to her,” Budarz said. “It was a really good resumé-builder to do what she did (in qualifying).”

    “I am so thankful for spending the last two years with the Liberty cycling team,” Matsick said. “God has truly blessed me and led me in ways I never could have imagined. I pray that I will be able to continue to race for His glory and make the most of the opportunities He has given me!”