EDWARDSVILLE – Home was sweet for Jacob Slosar, Kelsey Tharp and Keith Guilford on Saturday.
The Edwardsville residents won championships at the seventh annual Rotary Criterium in downtown Edwardsville. Slosar placed first in the Junior Division, Tharp won the men’s category 5 division and Guilford came out on top in the men’s category 3 division.
The Criterium wrapped up its seventh year on Saturday. Hosted by the Edwardsville Rotary Club, the Criterium is a series of high-speed bicycle races, free kids races, live bands on the streets of downtown Edwardsville. All cyclists compete for one of the largest one-day payouts in the St. Louis area, which is $10,000.
“We wanted a fundraiser that was organic to the Edwardsville community and Edwardsville is biking town because of the MCT bike trails,” Criterium director S.J. Morrison. “A lot of people bicycle here. So we wanted to not only raise money for the Edwardsville Rotary Club, but it would also be a fun event unlike any other kind of event that we have in our region.”
Slosar, who is a member of the Mesa Cycles Cycling Club in St. Louis, competed in the Criterium for the sixth time and won his first championship.
“I was really happy since it’s my hometown,” said the 16-year-old Slosar, who is a sophomore at Edwardsville High. “I’ve been looking forward to this all season.”
Tharp won a Criterium championship in his first appearance at the event. His Brown Stripe Cycling teammate, Chris Linck, who is also from Edwardsville, finished second.
“It’s wonderful,” the 26-year-old Tharp said.
Guilford won his first Criterium title in his third appearance. His wife, Brianne, placed fourth in the women’s category 3/4 race.
The 39-year-old Guilford moved here from the Kansas City area three years ago.
“Edwardsville is wonderful,” Guilford said. “We love it. I work over in St. Louis, but I much rather live here.”
Guilford, who competes with the Cyclery racing team, said he enjoyed competing in the race at night. The race began at 8 p.m. and ended about an hour later.
“The shadows kind of make you feel like you’re going faster than you really are, but the course is so well lit,” Guilford said. “A couple of laps and you’ll get used to it. It’s fun.”
Four other winners in the Criterium were from St. Louis. They were Chris Harre (Men’s Master’s), Jen Schook (Women’s Category 3/4), Hannah Schell (Women’s Open) and Spencer Seggebruch of St. Louis (Men’s Category 1/2).
Nate Cox of Sherman, Ill., who is a junior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, won the Men’s Category 4 race. Cox competed in the Criterium for the first time.
“I’ve been training all year for this,” said the 21-year-old Cox, who competes for the Wheel Fast Bicycle team in Chatham. “It’s so exciting. This is the one that I’ve been targeting all season. This is the one I really wanted.”