The Upstate has a newly crowned national champion. In a hotly contested points race at the master’s national track championships in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, Darin Marhanka of the POA squad took the stars and stripes jersey.
After a rain delay, which forced a pause in the action, 30 laps remained in the points race and Marhanka was behind nine points to the leader. Upon restart he joined a four man break and either won or was second in each of the remaining five sprints. However, in the last sprint he placed second but was relegated to fourth due to moving below the blue line.
To lose a chance at the stars and stripes jersey due to a relegation was devastating. Marhanka thought he had lost valuable points by the relegation. However, when the results were announced his name echoed over the PA – he had won the title by one point. Devastation and tears of defeat quickly became elation and overwhelming joy. He was able to celebrate with his son Jordan, himself twice on the podium at Junior track nationals in Frisco, Texas only weeks ago.
Darin has been training for years to get win a national champion’s jersey. He was second in 2010 points race master’s championships. He has podiumed ten times at nationals but had never been on the top step until Thursday.
“I finally have the jersey. After the race I called my wife and we were both crying tears of joy. This has been a long haul to get this jersey, but winning it makes it all so worth it,” said Marhanka. “It means so much to me to have my son here sharing my best moment in cycling.”
Marhanka’s strategy was to pay attention to the big guns in the race and if opportunity presented itself he was going to take it.
After the race he discussed his change of strategy after the restart, “I’m not waiting around patiently anymore. Time to go get all the points I can.”
Darin was in top form and felt he peaked perfectly. As a tune up for nationals he won the master’s points race at the Ring of Fire in Asheville. He won the master’s points race at the St. Francis Sports Medicine Summer Series and was third at the Friday Night Fights criterium in downtown Gaffney.
“I had all the good training and these past three races sharpened the racing edge at just the right time.”
Marhanka’s next event is the scratch race this Saturday where he feels he has a good chance to take another national championship title.
Thanks to Blair Lamarche