Story first appeared in the Aug. 4, 2016 edition of The Northwestern Press and also appeared on thelehighvalleypress.com later that day.
Sophie Shuhay decided to commit to track cycling just a few months ago.
Now she is a national champion.
The New Tripoli resident competed last week at the 2016 USA Cycling Junior and Elite Track Cycling National Championships at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Breinigsville, where she earned a gold medal in the women’s 13-14 year old 500-meter time trial.
Shuhay earned the top spot on the podium with a time of 39.186, which, according to her, is right at par with her average times.
“I really wanted to win the 500-meter time trial,” Shuhay said. “Also, I wanted to place in the other races.”
The Northwestern Lady Tiger competed in the women’s 13-14 year old omnium, which is comprised of three different events and riders earn points based on their finishes in each event. Awards are given out for each event as well as the overall omnium results.
The first event of the week on the 333 meter track for the age group was a four kilometer scratch race. Shuhay stayed in the top-five early in the race before she pushed herself into the lead with three laps to go. Shuhay was breaking for the finish line on the final lap of the race, but could not withstand a final push from a few riders. She finished in fourth place, earning another national medal.
The T-town Elite team member admitted she had mixed emotions during that race.
“I felt confident,” she said, “but at the same time a little nervous because it was my first race [of nationals] and I never raced with those girls before, so I did not know what was going to happen.”
The second event, before the 500-meter time trial, was an eight kilometer points race where riders sprint for points every few laps. The rider with the most points accumulated by race end is the winner. Shuhay finished fourth with a total of seven points, earning another national medal. The third-place finisher tallied 11 points.
Adding up the omnium points, Shuhay finished with 12 markers, good enough for third-place and a national bronze medal to cap off the already-sizable collection for Shuhay.
With it being her first career national championships, Shuhay admitted it was a great experience and a bit of an advantage to have it at her home track.
“It was really cool to see everyone come from around the US to come where I live,” she said. “It was cool to witness everything that was going on.”
A lot went on during the week-long event. For Shuhay, who finished last school year as a part-time track cyclist, it all went according to plan as she will return to the classroom in just a few weeks as a national cycling champion.