Para-cycling track national champions crowned in Colorado Springs

By Brianna Tammaro | Dec. 14, 2015, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Shawn Morelli celebrates on the podium after winning the women's 500-meter time trial at the 2015 U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling National Championships on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. Morelli swept three of her indivudal events with wins in the pursuit, time trial and scratch races.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – More than 30 Para-cyclists traveled from across the United States to the U.S. Olympic Training Center Velodrome in Colorado Springs to compete for national titles. Shawn Morelli (Leavenworth, Kansas) and Christopher Murphy (Alta Loma, California) each swept their individual races to win gold in the pursuit, time trial and scratch races.

Morelli, a U.S. Army veteran, donned the stars and stripes jersey three times for the women’s C4 class. She won the pursuit over teammate Megan Fisher (Missoula, Montana) with a time of 4:15.1 followed by wins the next day in the 500-meter time trial (42.4) and C1-5 scratch race, where she triumphed over 30 laps.

“I always enjoy racing, especially racing with this group,” Morelli said. “We’re all teammates and competing for the same spots but in the end, we’re all cheering for each other at competitions and hope for the best for each other. That’s what’s great about racing here.”

Army veteran Jennifer Schuble (Birmingham, Alabama) captured two individual and one team national title. After winning the women’s C5 pursuit (4:13.3), the 2008 Paralympic champion in the 500m time trial showed her dominance in the event on Sunday, flying more than 27 miles per hour to grab gold with a time of 40.7 seconds. She also teamed up with Marine Corps and Army veteran Jason Kimball (Corning, California) and Justin Widhalm (Fountain, Colorado) for “Team J Train,” taking the team sprint win with a time of 1:10.5.

The Army vs. Navy football game wasn’t the only U.S. military showdown this weekend. Scott Martin (Oceanside, California), a Marines veteran, dueled with Widhalm, an Army veteran, in the men’s C4 pursuit and time trial. Martin, a former world record-holder in the pursuit, showed why he was a specialist in the event, winning by 11 seconds to take the gold with 4:41.3. Widhalm evened the score by winning the time trial with a time of 1:08.2 over second place and Marines veteran Jon Copsey (Carmel Valley, California) and third place Martin.

Murphy repeated his success from 2014’s track nationals, winning titles in all of his individual races with times of 4:58.4 in the pursuit and 1:07.7 in the time trial. He saved the best for last, racing 15 of his teammates in the C1-5 classes over 45 laps to put on a well-executed performance and sprint to the finish over silver medalist Copsey and bronze medalist Joe Berenyi (Oswego, Illinois).

“It was a really fun scratch race,” Murphy said. “I thought I read the race pretty well and put energy in when I needed to but not anything more. I saved myself a little bit for the end and timed it well. The race went like I was hoping.”

Team USA’s track cycling season continues February 5-7 where they will travel to Los Angeles for the U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling Open. The UCI event will serve as a selection event for the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, March 12 – 21, in Montichiarri, Italy and the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. More information will be available on the U.S. Paralympics website

For full results from this weekend's 2015 U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling National Championships, click here.