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Collegiate Cycling: Catching up with Ripon College
 
By Imelda March
Date: 8/30/2011
Collegiate Cycling: Catching up with Ripon College
 
We caught up with Coach Ric Damm of Ripon College to fill us in on latest developments in recruiting and to tell us about the collegiate cycling season ahead.


Ripon College - Ripon, WI an early clockwise capture of the new mountain bike trail.

DP: How are your recruitment efforts progressing?

Ric: We’ve graduated one senior and added four new first-year students to the team, including one of the best young cross-country riders in Wisconsin in Ben Senkerik. Ben, a category 1 Junior, has won five of the seven Wisconsin Off Road Series races that he has competed in this year. Two of our new recruits come to us from the Blake School in Minnesota. Kyle Greene and Jay Pettengill bring tested experience in both cross country and gravity disciplines. Their downhill skills should significantly boost our scoring in gravity events where we previously relied solely on Eric Smith’s talents.

DP: How many new women have been recruited?

Ric: We added one new woman to the squad in Jakeshia Johnson. Jakeshia is completely new to the sport with no race experience. She does bring a solid determination to the table and continues our tradition of taking risks on newcomers to the sport.

DP: What new developments you would like to share with our audience?

Ric: We’ve completed the initial construction of our singletrack mountain bike trail on campus. We received a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant to hire IMBA’s Trail Solutions team to help us with the design and construction. The majority of the work was completed in May, and we now have about two miles of trail to use as a training ground for our team and other local riders. We plan to begin hosting mountain bike camps for youth in the coming year. We’ll host a grand trail opening celebration Saturday, Aug. 27.


Footage of the new IMBA Trail Solutions mountain bike trail built on the campus of Ripon College in Ripon, WI. This is a counter-clockwise loop of the system as recorded by Coach Ric Damm using the Red Hawks cycling team's GoPro Hero HD camera. Music track is "Fools Gold" by The Stone Roses.

DP: What are your predictions for the upcoming season?

Ric: I think we’re the front-runner to “three-peat” as the Division II mountain bike team champions in the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference this fall and with our newly added talent, I’m confident we have an excellent shot at sending a larger contingent of riders to Nationals at Angel Fire in October.

We are also planning to send one of our female riders, sophomore Rosette Reynolds, to represent us on the track this fall with the hope that she can qualify for a USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championship berth Sept. 17 and 18 in Indianapolis.

On the cyclocross front, we’re also planning to host a conference race this November. With the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship just down the road in Madison, WI in January 2012, we’re going to try to qualify a few Red Hawks.

DP: What 2010-11 accomplishment is your team most proud of?

Ric: The combination of repeating as Division II team mountain bike champions in our conference and leading all Ripon athletic teams with the highest grade point average (3.27) proves that we’re multi-dimensional. Our students-athletes are every bit both student and athlete, and we’re very proud of our successes on the bike and in the classroom.

DP: Have you signed or looking to sign more sponsors/supporters?

Ric: For this coming year we have added support from Trek as well as Precise Performance Fitting, a local Wobble-Naught bike fitter. We’ve continued our support from Belgium Budder, Crankbrothers, CycleOps Power and Saris, DeFeet, Ergon, GoPro, GU, Hayes Bicycle Group, Maxxis, mrp, Sixsixone and our local bike shops: Fond du Lac and Oshkosh Cycleries.

DP: What are your 2012 goals?

Ric: As we look to next year, I plan to continue to add more talented student-athletes to our team. We’ve grown fast and experienced moderate success in the first three years of our program. I’m expecting 2011 to be our biggest and best year to date; and I’m projecting that 2012 will be even better. My first real recruiting class will be graduating in May 2013, so next year will be their final year to achieve the goals we set forth when they came to Ripon. Our goal for this year is to put one or two individuals on the podium at nationals, and our goal for 2012 is to put the team there.


About the author: Imelda March lives in Chicago and is a member of Team Kenda. She is a frequent contributor to The Daily Peloton Cycling News team, reporting on women’s cycling issues and general peloton ramblings. Imelda is an experienced racer who also holds an MBA and is a marketing strategy expert.

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