BLOOMINGTON – The scary thing isn’t what Tabitha Sherwood is doing.
It’s how she’s doing it.
The Phoenix Cycling rider made it a perfect 2-for-2 in the individual Spring Series events by winning the women’s Miss-N-Out title to go along with her Individual Time Trial win she picked up a few days earlier.
Let’s be clear about something up front: Sherwood is the most dominant rider in the women’s field right now.
Miss-N-Outs couldn’t have gone more smoothly for the fourth-year rider. She won the top seed at ITTs to earn the inside position on track and never gave it up in her first heat, semifinal or finals race. If there was a move she needed to make, she made it. No questions. No hesitations. It was textbook.
Delta Gamma’s Kristen Bignal—who really deserves credit in her own right for taking second in both ITTs and Miss-N-Outs—gave Sherwood a scare as best she could on the last Miss-N-Out lap. Bignal made a push down the back stretch against the gusting wind and briefly grabbed the lead heading into Turn 3 on the outside before Sherwood pulled alongside through the middle of Turns 3 and 4 only to power passed down the front stretch.
Had it not been for Sherwood, Bignal would likely be the subject of this story. That’s the raw end of racing that, coincidentally, Sherwood can relate to.
Last year, it was Sherwood finishing second in both ITTs and then Miss-N-Outs behind Kappa Alpha Theta’s Liz Lieberman, who dominated the individual portion of Spring Series. On race day, Lieberman led Theta to its second consecutive Little 500 win.
The team that finished second that day? None other than Sherwood’s Phoenix Cycling. That’s a developing trend worth keeping an eye on.
Of course, the Sherwood-Phoenix/Lieberman-Theta comparison isn’t exactly perfect. Their respective teams’ strengths aren’t equal, which is critical.
Lieberman had a pair of teammates finish in the top-eight in ITTs and another finish 23rd.
Sherwood has a pair of teammates in the top-24 and another in 33rd.
On paper, Lieberman had more help, but considering the weather from ITTs, that’s not exactly a firm answer. It’s not a stretch to try and connect the dots and say they’re in almost identical spots.
Sherwood’s been the storyline of the women’s field throughout Spring Series thus far and will likely continue to be throughout the rest of April.
She’s made it clear she’s one of the best riders, if not the best rider in the field already, and said she’s in the best physical shape of her life. Combine that with the urgency that comes with a senior rider being in her last race and there’s a potent combination brewing.
But there’s one thing Sherwood’s still missing. If you’d ask her, she’d trade all the individual wins for it, too.
A Little 500 trophy.
At the rate she’s going, she just may get it.