2018 Midwest Nationals Race Report
here are few places as legendary as the hallowed grounds of Rockford BMX. They’ve been at it since 1977 and it definitely shows. Early Friday morning 2.59 inches of rain fell in on the track. By 10:30am practice kicked off like it had never happened. Long time track operator Jake Karau and the crew have the drainage dialed in like clockwork. It is one of the many things that this facility has literally perfected over the years.
A Pro was the largest group of pros on the weekend with 22 riders on Friday night. Philly’s finest, Menardo Simon was on the gas all day long and chose gate one which at Rockford is the furthest from turn one, despite being on the inside. That wouldn’t matter though as he would holeshot on his Cult race frame and control the race from start to finish. Ecuadorian Nicolas Palacios cruised in right behind him for the second and Justin Knapper rounded out the podium for day one.
The second day brought more of the same with Simon controlling his laps for most of the day. He found himself back in gate one come main time, but once it hit the deck Ohio’s Brandon Roharik shot out of gate seven and into the lead. Simon settled into two and Layne Gainer muscled his way into third in the second turn and that’s how they’d finish.
In the Vet Pro ranks both Cristian Becerine and Tyler Brown were fresh off a plane from the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. Tyler brought some major confidence in as he’d just been crowned the Masters World Champion just eight days prior. On day one the “youngster” Brown led the class from gate drop to the finish line. Day two saw Becerine get his patented holeshot and hold off Brown and take the win. We can’t wait to see the showdown between these two come Saturday night at the Grands.
In the Elite ranks, we’re sure the ladies were happy that Alise Willoughby was off in Europe on her delayed honeymoon. Powerlite’s Felicia Stancil was right at home in Rockford as it just a short drive from where she’d grown up racing. That experience definitely showed on the first day as she’d take home top honors. The second day was a bit more challenging as she wouldn’t get the start that she wanted but Amanda Carr would earn the Answer Holeshot award. Lauren Reynolds and Ashley Verhagen closely followed her. Reynolds built up a bunch of speed down the third straightaway and would pass Carr on the outside of the final turn. The two would bump during the pass and Carr would wind up on the ground, taking a bunch of others down with her. Local Heather Collman was at the right place at the right time and would maneuver through the carnage and grab herself a second place. Dani George would cruise in for the third.
None other than Tucson’s Corben Sharrah dominated Elite Men. No one had an answer for Daylight’s top ace all weekend long. The big surprise of the weekend was Full Tilt’s Sean Gaian grabbing a second on Friday, his best finish ever in the class.
The Midwest Nationals has always had a strong showing of top ams and this year was no exception. Bolivian transplant Grecia Cristodulo, who now lives in Texas, has made her presence know on the national scene in a major way. With her six wins on the weekend, she has taken the lead in the 12 Girls NAG standings and is sitting in fifth for overall national points. For those of you who follow the national series, that class was won last year by defending National #1 Girl Katja Shriver who has been absent from national competition since the conclusion of the Winter Nationals. We may be witnessing a changing of the guard.
Stephani Morin, who also just returned from a main event performance at the worlds in Baku, was back too much more familiar turf in Rockford. She would earn herself two wins in the 17-20 Girls class with an unsponsored Anna Johnson earning the other win in the class.
Another dominant performance was displayed by 7x Eli Staton who seemed determined to put as much space between himself and second place as possible. He’d do just that going unbeaten all weekend long. In the older ranks we saw and awesome shootout between the trio of Adam Scott, George Andrews and Adam Welter in 36-40x. These three have been ducking it out at Rockford off and on for 20 plus years. Adam would get the best of the boys the first two day and was looking like he would do the same on day three until George Andrews pulled a stellar move in turn one that sent him from third place to first and sent Adam into the infield. They don’t call him the “ Mangler” for nothing. The race was far from over though as the other Adam was in hot pursuit. He and the Mangler would drag race to the finish with Andrews hanging on by the slimmest of margins.
Yes, it rained, was hot and humid, but the racing was more fun than any of that other stuff. There’s just something about the jewel in Searls Park that keeps them coming back for more, year after year.