By Victoria Lawson | Echo
As the annual Taylathon bike race comes swiftly around the corner, the Taylathon team captains are busy preparing their teams for what lies ahead. The captains and their riders share a similar sense of nervous anticipation, but they each have unique quirks and dynamics that set them apart.
Freshman Women's Team Captain: Rose White
Team Riders: Grace Fee, Hanna Lichacz, Sarah Malak, Liesel Koopmans, Alexis Hale
How They're Preparing: The team tries to practice every Tuesday and Thursday, once a day. The team also practices on the course Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the DC parking lot to work transitions. "We get tips from upperclassmen," said White. "I think they're coming along; it's pretty exciting." White knows the odds are stacked against them, but she intends to have fun with her team.
How They're Feeling: According to White, no one is too stressed, just focused on getting the hang of it. "My girls? They're all pretty tough," said White. "They've never done it before, but they've got a fighting spirit within them." She is proud of her team for their hard work and the heart they've put into it.
One Word to Describe the Team: "Thick-skinned."
Freshman Men's Team Captain: Jackson Bonnett
Team Riders: Gabriel Wehrle, Kaleb Sena, Matthew Bolander, Ethan Leeper, Andrew Friesen
How They're Preparing: "We're a group that's really involved in other activities, so we haven't been together as a group yet, but we're going to get there," said Bonnett. They plan to get together to practice in the DC parking lot and learn to work as a cohesive group.
How They're Feeling: "You know, we're going to fall off," said Bonnett. "It's going to be okay though. I think they're excited but also nervous." The team is also eager to choose their introduction music on the big day in addition to getting free t-shirts.
One Word to Describe the Team: "Ambitious."
Sophomore Women's Team Captain: Olivia Phipps
Team Riders: Dana Thompson, Ruth Brown, Savannah Wilson, Sophia Guo, Dana Kay, Taylor Marshall
How They're Preparing: The sophomore girls are all about preparation. They have been practicing every day for the past two weeks and are currently pairing up who transitions best with who. "So we have this good relationship with the bike, you, and the person you're transitioning with," said Phipps. She's helping the team focus on their endurance as well, gradually adding laps to their practices until the big day.
How They're Feeling: Despite their exhaustion after practice, the girls feel ready. Many of them participated in Taylathon as freshmen. "A lot of people are excited," said Phipps. "We know it's coming, and we're planning for it." The team is also made up of roommate pairs, which adds some character to their group dynamic.
One Word to Describe the Team: "Goofballs."
Sophomore Men's Team Captain: Ross Kimbrell
Team Riders: Taylor Burns, Ethan Cramer, Jack McNeil, Matt Wildman, Mark Anderson, Jason Schug
How They're Preparing: Hoping to step back from their strict routine from the year prior, the sophomore men's team intend to be more "toned down," according to Kimbrell. They practice for 45 minutes a night and will be taking a more chill approach to the race. "Maybe we should start group stretching," said Kimbrell. "Maybe that's the key for winning."
How They're Feeling: The team wants to be more humble than they were in the year prior. "We're a lot more light hearted than last year," said Kimbrell. He wants to be less serious so practices are a lot more fun and comfortable.
One Word to Describe the Team: "Hopeful."
Junior Women's Team Captain: Jessica Dundas
Team Riders: Abbey Bolander, Abby Gonzalez, Amanda Fleischmann, Analiese Helms, Rachel Gist, Hannah King, Jessica Edwards
How They're Preparing: Three mornings of the week, at either 5 a.m. or 6 a.m., the team teaches their new members how to master transitions. There are varying levels of experienced riders on the team and they are all learning how to work together smoothly. "It's one of my favorite (traditions) of the fall semester," said Dundas.
How They're Feeling: While many of the riders have been struggling with sickness, the girls still feel confident in their abilities. They have been willing to push through the discomfort and are committed to making the most of their practices.
One Word to Describe the Team: "Crazy."
Junior Men's Team Captain: Josiah Adkins
Team Riders: JD Kay, Jordan Rhodes, Chad Veal, Ethan McNeil, Paul Dunas, Matthew Beaverson, Ben Kiers
How They're Preparing: Much like other teams, Adkins is really training his team to be able to transition smoothly, especially since they have several newcomers. "If you can't do the transitions, you're pretty much done for," said Adkins. He encouraged his team to bike on their free time to practice laps, but intends to focus almost all their energy on transitions.
How They're Feeling: The riders who have never participated in Taylathon seem nervous. At the same time, Adkins believes they are one of the most relaxed teams. "We're kind of just like 'hey, show up when you can," said Adkins. "We're in it to win it but we don't want to take it too seriously."
One Word to Describe the Team: "Fun."
Senior Women's Team Captain: Crysta Haynes
Team Riders: Katie Klingstedt, Sarah Manko, Anna Clemens, Grace Todd, Madeleine Burkholder, Johannah Lindsay
How They're Preparing: Haynes has two essential tips for her team: tuck in your shoelaces and tuck in your shirts. "Your shirt can get caught on the bike seat and your shoelaces can get caught on the pedals, and if either of those things happen, we're done for," said Haynes.
How They're Feeling: The team is all delighted to race one last time but nervous about the crowd. They feel somewhat self conscious with people watching. Otherwise, they're feeling good about the progress they've made.
One Word to Describe the Team: "Ready."
Senior Men's Team Captain: Bryson Shelor
Team Riders: Josh Clement, Tim Ours, Nate Clodgo, Harrison VanderNoord, Will Kercher, Nolan Willoughby, Sung Kim
How They're Preparing: The senior men get a feel for the course in the mornings before 7 a.m. as well as some evening practices as needed. As previously reiterated by the other teams, transitions are crucial to success, so they time each other's laps. They're also focused on avoiding penalties.
How They're Feeling: "(Will and I) have both done this since freshman year, and freshman year we got 4th, and last two years we've gotten 2nd, so we're like, 'we have to win this year… we need the 1st," said Shelar. "If it doesn't happen, that's not a huge deal, but it would be really fun to finally win."
One Word to Describe the Team: "Starbucks."
Taylathon will be held Sept. 29 between Reade and Ayres. The women's teams ride at 10 a.m. and the men's teams ride at 11 a.m. Come support these talented riders as they compete in one of Taylor's most beloved traditions!