(Galbraith, Mantia, Cheek. Photo by Chris Cheek)
Yesterday, in the second of three days of on track competition at the 2011 Outdoor Inline National Championships, it was the distance skaters’ time to shine. There was only one race for the senior skaters’ trying to qualify for the world championships, the 10k points/elimination final. This race, 50 laps around the 200m banked track, is run differently from a normal, ‘first across the line’ type race. Athletes compete for points awarded during prime laps throughout the race, with points going to the first two skaters across the line. Certain laps are also ‘elimination’ laps in which the last skater across the line is eliminated from the race and asked to leave the course.
One of the most difficult things for spectators watching these ‘points/elim’ races is keeping track of who is in the lead of the point total throughout the course of the event. The first 25 laps of the men’s 10k final yesterday was all over the place in terms of points distribution. It seemed as if every time the bell would ring, signifying a prime lap, there was a different skater in the front of the pack. The pack was a seething mass for 5k with no one able to get away until about 23 laps to go.
At a little past the halfway point, Hank Galbraith from Greensboro, NC, made break and was not chased down by the pack. In one of those moments where it seems that everyone in the chasing group looks around at each other and shrugs collectively before deciding that ‘nah, I’ll let somebody else go after the break’, Michael Cheek made a move on the outside and began to bridge the increasing gap between Galbraith and the pack. With 19 laps to go, Cheek had closed the distance to Galbraith and the pair were only 50 meters from lapping the pack. As points are awarded to the top two skaters, and Cheek and Galbraith were basically untouchable at this point, they just went back and forth collecting the first and second place prime lap points for the next 10 or so laps.
With about 13 laps to go, apparently sick of waiting for someone to do something, 28 time champion Joey Mantia makes a break that is completely unanswered by anyone in the pack and tries to un-lap himself. In watching Mantia skate, we see what has become the dominant theme of almost every national championships that he has competed in: It seems that when Joey Mantia decides that he wants to make his move, there is absolutely no one that can even hope to stop him. He is completely in the driver’s seat when it comes to any race longer than the shortest sprint distances. He catches Galbraith and Cheek with 8 laps to go, collects several more first place prime laps (he won several in the beginning of the race as well) and takes the overall title.
As strong as Mantia looks when he makes his initial move, this was a close call. The point total separating Cheek and Mantia at the end of the race was not large and several times when he was chasing the pack, he did, in fact, look a bit tired. Not unexpected when trying to lap a pack traveling close to 30 mph by oneself, but it was one of the few moments this weekend in a longer race when Mantia has looked human.
All race results can be found on USARS Website.
RESULTS MEN’S 10,000M POINTS/ELIMINATION
01 #104 Mantia, Joseph - West Jordan, UT, U16:29.714 21 02 #97 Cheek, Michael - West Jordan, UT, N 17 03 #99 Galbraith, Hank - West Jordan, UT, N 11 04 #107 Powers, Jake - Greensboro, NC, NC 05 #114 Talley, Brian - Haltom City, TX, TX360 06 #116 Weiderhold, Ryan - Richmond, VA,VA 07 #103 Horne, Chad - Clinton Twp, MI, MI-11 08 #141 Skeketee, BJ - Hudsonvillle, MI, MI-0 09 #93 Andrews, Brandon - Jamestown, NC 10 #105 O'Brien, Sean - Waynesboro, PA, NJ 11 #100 Gandy, Wesley - Midlothian, VA, VA1 12 #96 Carroll, Keith - West Jordan, UT, MI-1 5 eliminated 13 #106 Paul, Jarrett - Tampa, FL, FL-024 14 #113 Stelly, Justin - West Jordan, UT, UN0 4 eliminated 15 #94 Bell, Jonathan - Orlando, FL, FL-082 16 #110 Springer, Christopher - Midlothian, VA 17 #111 Springer, James - Midlothian, VA, VA 18 #98 Dalton, Joseph - San Bernardino, CA 19 #112 Stelly, Jordin - Kaplan, LA, TX-231 20 #109 Simas, Joshua - Falcon, CO, CO-015 21 #115 Wakefield, Colin - Enumclaw, WA, W 22 #102 Maurice Hall - Hampton, VA, VA120
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