Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chasing Medals – Gold at Track Nationals

     Day 1 of track nationals was the 500-meter TT for jr. 13-14 boys.  There were thirty-two of us and I was second to the last to start.  I warmed up and listened to the times that the other kids did until it was my turn to go.  I knew that I had to beat the time of Chazmichael Morales of 38.? seconds. Before the start, I took a few deep breaths and looked at the start timer and then took off.  I finished the day in 3rd, but most importantly I got points for the overall omnium.

     The next day was the qualifying and finals scratch race. There were only 12 spots available to move on to the finals in my qualifying heat.  I took it easy to save my energy for the finals, but still made sure I qualified. Our final scratch race was held in the evening and all twenty-four of us tried to get a good spot on the rail. We rolled out as a group waiting for the gunshot to begin the 12-lap race. The referee pulled his trigger and the race was on.  Daniel Parks made the move as soon as it started and I followed. We had a little gap but it wasn't big enough. The rest of the race was slow with some attacks.  I knew I had to keep an eye out for Chazmichael during the whole race.  It was then the bell lap.  I was in a perfect position, sitting third wheel.  Grayson Brookshire made the jump and I was in his slipstream.  In turn 3, I started my sprint coming over the top of him but I was still tied with him.  Out of turn 4, I took the lead and held it the whole way. Getting first place was great because I got my first gold medal and it also moved me into 2nd place in the omnium, 2 points behind Chazmichael.

     The points race didn't look too good on the third day because it was storming all morning and the races had to be pushed back to the afternoon.  After a morning of confusion, it was finally my qualifying heat for the points race. Each heat qualified twelve racers to the finals.  Since my heat had only twelve of us, I went easy because I knew we would automatically move on to the finals. Then it was the finals race and all twenty-four riders were anxious to get the race started, including me.  I knew I had to beat Chazmichael by at least two places in order for me to take the overall win.  This race was 30 laps with sprints at every 6 laps. I got points early on in the race, but after one of the sprints Daniel Parks jumped.  Riders tried to get on his wheel but left too big of a gap that I couldn't close it.  Daniel Parks won the points race and I came in second.  I didn't care about the second place finish because my interest was on Chazmichael’s placing. There was no news for at least 5 minutes and then we finally got the results.  Chazmichael had gotten 4th and I got 2nd, which meant I had become the track national champion! 

     I’m glad I went to track nationals this year.  It definitely was redemption for not getting gold at road nationals.

-Matthew Valencia

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