Submitted by Craig Dean –
The 5th annual Western Oregon University Sprint+ race took place on a rather pleasant spring morning in Monmouth, OR. This years race would feature the return of the top four finishers from last year’s race in addition to a young upstart from Willamette Tri Club and recent addition to Team Dean in Devin VansCoy. Last year’s winner, and a long time staple in the Pacific Northwest triathlon scene, Dave Campbell was on hand early offering advice to the newcomers and greetings to familiar faces.
The race started in the newly refurbished 6-lane, 25-yard pool that connected to the equally new, and rather posh, athletic center. At 8am the first of seven waves took off on their 10-lap effort to begin the racing. By the time heat seven took to the water near 10:00am, six waves of athletes had already transitioned away from the pool and on with the other disciplines. The organizers planned for enough spacing between the swimmers and a well managed starting order such that the first leg of the event operated rather smoothly. Grant Hayball exited the water from lane one clear of all other competitors with a 5:24 split. This sent him into the transition with a full 1-minute lead on the pack of males that trailed the top female split of 6:33 posted by Angie Smith.
In transition the order in the male race shuffled as Dave Campbell collected his dropped timing chip and Devin VansCoy peeled off his swim speed suit. I made a quick turnaround with a :40 transition and headed out on the bike in search of our speedy swimmer. Campbell and VansCoy transitioned in 1:26 and 1:28, but would quickly make up ground on the bike. In the female race, Angie Smith’s top swim split and quick transition of 1:12 would place her well ahead of the field and in the thick of the male race.
This race is called a “sprint+” as it features a longer bike leg and a slightly longer run leg than what is found in a conventional sprint race. The bike course also serves up several challenging hills mixed with smaller rollers that require accurate shifting and full use of the smaller gears. The first of the ascents began just after mile post two and offers a long line of sight to the riders ahead. This is where I spotted Hayball as he kept a steady cadence and appeared quite comfortable in his ride. With relatively fresh legs, the riders in the male race took down the first two hills without much passing or interaction. This changed after a couple right turns and the start up the Goose Hallow Hill. Campbell and VansCoy made their pass on myself and Grayball in one fell swoop and the race was on. Moments later I chose to counter-attack at the same time as Grayball. Unfortunately for Grayball, he would get stuck on the inside prompting Campbell to offer his advice to “fall back after you’ve been passed”! He did just that and later ran into some shifting problems that would keep him out of the front of the pack for the remainder of the ride. I completed my pass and held the lead in the race for a few peddle strokes but it wouldn’t last long as Campbell returned the favor and took back his position as the lead dog for the remainder of the hill and ultimately the ride. VansCoy and myself would trade passes, he over me going up the hill and myself over him going down the hills. As we wound down the ride and approached the transition the separation between the top four spots was inside of a minute with Campbell on top.
The women’s race continued to be all Angie Smith as she posted the fastest bike split (53:49) on top of her leading swim split. There was some shuffling behind her as Megan Banks and Kimberly Mullen clocked their rides under an hour setting up a showdown on the run the 2nd position. Angie may have found ample competition in the men’s field as her blistering swim and speedy bike put her in the mix with many of the top male finishers on the day.
Out of the 2nd transition, I followed VansCoy by two seconds and Campbell by 18 seconds, but I am fully aware that the run will produce big changes in our positioning as VansCoy routinely dominates the run and Campbell would likely succomb to the speed behind him. The leader, Dave Campbell, has been a fixture in the Northwest triathlon scene for much longer than I’ve known the sport. He’s won countless races and provided encouragement to others within the triathlon community while also working to coordinate the annual Newport marathon in his hometown. Issues with his hip over the past few days have hindered his running abilities and, on this day, would take him out contention for the win. As I passed Dave and into 2nd position, I invited him on a post race ride. He simply grunted. We would talk later. I chased VansCoy in vain, knowing that his experience as a cross country runner in college and his desire for a win on this day would likely prevail. His lead would slowly build as he pulled away late for his first victory (1:16:22) since he began to race in triathlons three years ago. I would struggle to hold off Grayball for 2nd (1:16:47) as he charged to the line with the 3rd fastest run split of the day (19:26) and an overall time of (1:16:57). The fastest run split would be posted by Monmouth’s own Kacey McCallister (17:12) in an earlier heat.
On the women’s side, Angie Smith finished off her victory by running a 23:44 to the tape and an overall time of (1:26:18). The race between Megan Banks and Kimberly Mullen came down to their run with Banks holding on for 2nd with her 23:32 on the run and (1:31:17) overall. Mullen’s run split of 23:49 was good to comfortably secure her as the 3rd female overall and finish her race at (1:31:36). The fastest run split (22:19) of the day on the women’s side went to Barbara Hunter.
A special thanks to Melissa Ineck and Elke Asleson for again setting up a quality event that is well organized.
For complete results, visit www.racecenter.com/results.
Male Devin VansCoy 1:16:22
Female Angie Smith 1:26:18
Age group winners:
Male 17 under – Alex Zuk – 1:46:32
Male 18-24 – Logan Scherer – 1:29:44
Female 18-24 – Lizzy Graber – 1:36:13
Male 25-34 – Grant Hayball – 1:16:57
Female 25-34 – Giovanna Matic – 1:47:08
Male 35-44 – Craig Dean – 1:16:47
Female 35-44 – Kimberly Mullen – 1:31:36
Male 45-54 – Evan Cumpston – 1:24:50
Female 45-54 – Megan Banks – 1:31:17
Male 55+ – Ken Bronson – 1:45:20
Female 55+ – Gail Kimberling – 1:52:15