Brunner 23 Nat Champ 1130x600
National Championships

Clara Honsinger and Eric Brunner Win the 2023 Elite Cyclocross National Championships

By: National Events  December 10, 2023

Lizzy Gunsalus and Jack Spranger win Under-23 National Titles.

On the final day of the 2023 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, riders brought the excitement to Joe Creason Park to close out the event in Louisville, Ky. Cold temperatures and yesterday’s rain brought on challenging course conditions for the Under-23 and Elite racers to adjust to early this morning in practice.

U23 Women

Twenty-three women toed the line for the Under-23 women’s race, which started the day. Lizzy Gunsalus (Ashland, Mass.; CCB p/b LLG) went hard from the start, making an early gap for herself. The battle for the rest of the podium spots was between Lauren Zoerner (Louisville, Colo.; Groove Off-Road Racing), Ella Brenneman (Gibsonia, Pa.; CXD Trek Bikes), and Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.; Colorado Mesa University).

It was a strategic race of attrition as riders tested the muddy course and planned their pit stops accordingly. Riders pitted more than most did in the past few days as conditions worsened.

Gunsalus continued to ride a flawless race and won her first U23 National Title. Brenneman was the strongest out of the group and excelled to a silver medal, one of the best results of her career. Hickey held strong to the line for bronze.

Gunsalus had confidence going into today’s race, saying, “It was a really, really phenomenal day. This whole week, I was able to race collegiate for Marian. After pre-riding yesterday and seeing the rain in the forecast, I kind of just woke up with the feeling of knowing today was going to be my day and that I was just going to try to remain as present as possible. I wanted everyone to race my race today, and I didn't want to have any risks. I wanted to make sure I was staying smooth, steady, and really just absorbing all of the energy around me.”

With the support around her, it is no wonder she walked away a National Champion. She said, “My second home is in Indianapolis, even though I’m from Massachusetts, and it’s only two hours away, so all my Midwest Devo kiddos were out here supporting. All my collegiate teammates drove down two hours this morning and got in the car at 6:30 am to see me race. My entire family is here (minus my sister), but it was just one of those days where I would have been silly not to take that energy and let it fuel me. It was really phenomenal, and I feel so unbelievably grateful for my collegiate program, for John Hoopingarner, for Tim Mitchell with CCB, and Lauren LeClaire. CCB Women's Racing is my road team, and they were really happy to step up to the plate to help me put together a cross season this year. Today was for them, it was for me, it was for my family, it was for my brother in the pits. It’s a family affair, and this whole season has really shown me what this sport really means to me, and I’m happy to show them that today was my day, and it’s theirs too.”


1. Lizzy Gunsalus (Ashland, Mass.; CCB p/b LLG)

2. Ella Brenneman (Gibsonia, Pa.; CXD Trek Bikes)

3. Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.; Colorado Mesa University)

U23 Men

Jack Spranger (Sammamish, Wash.; Bear CX) had a fantastic start in the Men’s U23 race, where he got an early gap on the field. Ivan Sippy (Grand Junction, Colo.; Team Segment 28) and Dylan Zakrajsek (Grand Junction, Colo.; Full Speed Ahead – Van Dessel) caught up to Spranger after the barriers heading into the second lap. The three riders continued to ride together until the third lap when Spranger and Zakrajsek pulled away from Sippy.

Spranger and Zakrajsek continued to play a game of cat and mouse while Sippy maintained his distance from the leading duo. Spranger made a huge move after the barriers on the final lap, pinching out Zakrajsek in a turn, causing Zakrajsek to stumble and fall behind. It would still come down to a sprint finish, but Spranger managed to stay two bike lengths ahead and solidify his position to win the Stars and Stripes jersey.

After the race, Spranger said, “This one was a blast here in Louisville. Super slick conditions and a battle the whole race with Dylan [Zakrajsek] and Ivan [Sippy] at the start. It was all about riding smooth and limiting your mistakes. On the last lap, I had an issue in the pits, and Dylan got ahead of me, but I was able to retake the lead at the limestone stairs. At the barriers, Dylan got around me but left the door open on the inside, and I was able to sneak up and hold it from there to get the win.”


1. Jack Spranger (Sammamish, Wash.; Bear CX)

2. Dylan Zakrajsek (Grand Junction, Colo.; Full Speed Ahead – Van Dessel)

3. Ivan Sippy (Durango, Colo.; Team Segment 28)

Elite Women

On Sunday afternoon, the highly anticipated Elite Women’s race brought top talent to Louisville, Kentucky. With 24 riders on course, the 50-minute race saw a showdown between Clara Honsinger (Portland, Ore.; Team S&M CX), Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah; Steve Tilford Foundation Racing), and Raylyn Nuss (Warrenton, Mo.; Steve Tilford Foundation Racing).

Honsinger managed to pull away from Clouse after a fast first lap. Honsinger rode multiple extremely technical sections of the course, which allowed her to get over 20 seconds on Clouse. Honsinger stayed out front and controlled her pace. Finishing in a time of 48:22, Honsinger earned the 2023 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship title.

After the race, she said, “Winning my fourth national title is a pretty surreal feeling. Each one is definitely a title earned, not a jersey kept. It was a really challenging week, but to wrap it up in this way feels really good, and my parents, family, and my grandfather are here. I was really happy we had a lot of rain last night, and it definitely changed the conditions from earlier in the week. It was pretty slippery, and it took a lot of examination to find which lines were faster because there was a lot of green grass on the edges. Sometimes, you could get a little extra speed through them, but other times, it was better to keep to the rut. On Christmas day, I’ll be flying to Belgium, and I just qualified for the World Championships for Team USA, and I look forward to representing them in the Czech Republic.”


1. Clara Honsinger (Portland, Ore.; Team S&M CX)

2. Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah; Steve Tilford Foundation Racing)

3. Raylyn Nuss (Warrenton, Mo.; Steve Tilford Foundation Racing)

Elite Men

In the last race of the day, the Elite Men brought the entertainment in a 60-minute showdown at Joe Creason Park. It was a dramatic battle between the top five: Andrew Strohmeyer (Mount Airy, Md.; CXD Trek Bikes), Scott Funston (Boulder, Colo.; WTB Pivot Endurance), Eric Brunner (Boulder, Colo.; WTB Pivot), Curtis White (Beverly, Mass.; Steve Tilford Foundation Racing), and Kerry Werner (Vinton, Va.; Bikeflights P/B Kona Adventure Team).

On the first few laps, Strohmeyer, Funston, Brunner, and White had a gap, attacking every technical section, staying together but constantly exchanging leaders during the early laps. On lap three, Brunner slid out in a turn after the first pit. When he got back up, a mechanical caused him to continue to lose time until he could make a bike exchange in the second pit.

As the leaders started on lap four, Strohmeyer and Funston had a five-second gap on White. Strohmeyer had the gap on Funston by the next lap, but Brunner recovered and was hot on his heels, laying down the fastest laps on the black course with an 8:16 lap. At that pace, it wasn’t long before Brunner was out in front, putting time into Strohmeyer with another few seconds on Funston. By the last lap, Brunner rode a flawless lap to take home his second Elite Men’s National Title in three years.

After the race, Brunner explained how the race played out. “It was probably one of my most stressful races ever. I got off to a good start, riding with Scott, Curtis, and Strohmeyer, and I just had a couple mistakes. Strohmeyer and I ran into each other, and it caused my derailleur to go into crash mode. I sorted that pretty quickly and was back in the group, but then I went down again and was probably about 20 seconds down. I chased hard for a long time. I thought for about half a lap that my race was completely over, but I just had to keep going and did what I could. After about another half-lap, I saw it was possible, and I was just all in. I’m still shaking a little bit with the adrenaline. I’m so proud to win, nice to finish it off here, and it’s definitely a big confidence booster heading to the end of my cross season.”


1. Eric Brunner (Boulder, Colo.; WTB Pivot)

2. Andrew Strohmeyer (Mount Airy, Md.; CXD Trek Bikes)

3. Scott Funston (Boulder, Colo.; WTB Pivot Endurance)

For more information about the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, please visit A full list of results can be found here.