Cyclist overcomes fracture

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Mitchell Peterson didn't realize the extent of his injuries. Then again, it just shows the grit of mountain bikers. Crashes in the mountains are an everyday occurrence.

"I noticed that every bump hurt," he said.

Despite a broken collarbone, the University of Utah finance major finished the final leg of the 2009 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championship and won the overall championship.

Mitchell was the lone Ute at the competition, which was Oct. 18 at Northstar at Tahoe resort near Truckee, Calif. He finished second in cross country and short track, 42nd among 4X racers and 50th in the downhill.

Mitchell's downhill finish can be excused. He crashed midway through the race and fractured his collarbone.

Instead of seeking treatment, Mitchell attended the awards ceremony to pick up his trophy. Only this week did he finally visit the doctor.

"The downhill course had a 5-foot drop," the 22-year-old cyclist said. "I came onto a rock that had been moved into my normal line. I swerved and crashed."

What makes this championship unique is the levels of competition. While Mitchell is part of a club at Utah, schools such as Fort Lewis College, which won the overall competition, offer scholarships. Mitchell scored high enough to give Utah an overall 15th place among 38 schools in team competition.

MWC cross country

BYU has dominated the Mountain West Conference cross country landscape. The Cougar men have won nine of 10 championships, while the women ran away with the title eight times.

More of the same is expected Saturday when BYU hosts the conference meet at the Cascade Golf Course in Orem at 10 a.m.

BYU's women have actually finished second the last two seasons, while the lone blemish on the men's run came five years ago when Air Force broke through, edging the Cougars.

Currently, the men, who recently placed third at the Pre-Nationals, are ranked sixth nationally, while the BYU women are No. 22. The Cougar women, led by MWC Female Cross Country Athlete of the Week Cecily Lemmon-Lew, finished second at the Chile Pepper Invitational.

"As a team, it was a great opportunity to get ready for conference and championship meets," BYU women's coach Patrick Shane said.

For Lemmon-Lew, who placed second out of 267 runners, the conference award was her third this year. Despite not feeling well, she ran a career-best 20 minutes, 32.5 seconds for the 6K.

"I was really happy with the race and excited for how the team ran," she said afterward. "We're improving in every race."

The women's main competition appears to be New Mexico, which boasts four of the year's top 10 times, including Ruth Senior's run of 21 minutes, 23.7 seconds at Pre-Nationals.

The men finished behind No. 1 Stanford and No. 4 Colorado. Mike Batty's 12th place finish led the Cougars. His 8K time was 24 minutes, 2 seconds. Cougar runners also placed 19th (Thomas Gruenwald), 29th (Rich Nelson), 44th (Alden Bahr) and 59th (Ryan Merriman).