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Rogut clips Moak in close finish

Nathan Rogut patiently waited for his defining moment Fridaynight in the fast-paced Bank of Brookhaven Criterium. On the finallap of the 1-hour race, Rogut waited until the last turn andoutsprinted local favorite Frank Moak to the finish line in theopening event of the Mississippi Gran Prix.

Rogut, 28, from Grapevine, Texas, was the defending champion inthe popular downtown event which featured 50 Category 1-2-3 ridersfrom across the southeast. He rides for Compliance Depot of Plano,Texas and serves as team captain.

“This race was faster than last year,” said Rogut. “It was a lotmore aggressive.

“I know Herring Gas is the hometown favorite,” Rogutacknowledged. “They do a good job of trying to control therace.”

Moak, 46, founder and captain of the Herring Gas team, hadswapped leads with Rogut over the final 10 laps. He regained thelead from Rogut with 3 laps to go and was leading on the bell(final) lap.

“I came by Frank in the last corner,” said Rogut. “This is agood course and very technical. I was worried about one corner thathad a hole in it and no lights.”

The race, starting at 7 p.m., was completed in near darkness.Most of the corners were illuminated by either spot lights orstreet lights along the 8/10ths of a mile course. Riders reachedspeeds of over 30 miles per hour in the straightaways.

Moak, 18 years older than Rogut, was hoping to win thecriterium. “I knew (Rogut) was fast. I only had one way to beat himbut I ran out of room. The finish line didn’t come soon enough. Itshould have been 50 feet closer.”

Moak’s high level of conditioning and local knowledge haveenabled him to remain competitive at an older age. “The field wasreally strong and fast.

“It will be a tough weekend,” Moak noted. He was referring toSaturday morning’s 80-mile road race, the late afternoon timetrials and the early Sunday morning circuit race at Copiah-LincolnCommunity College.

Two of Moak’s Herring Gas teammates finished in the criterium’stop 10. Timothy Regan was 8th and Realdo Jessurum was 9th.

Jason Snow of Cycle Science (Fla.) placed a close 3rd in thecriterium. Casey Magner of Georgia was 4th and Cleve Blackwell ofTeam Myogenesis was 5th. Eric Murphy of AEG placed 6th and BrianToone of Birmingham Velo was seventh.

Blackwell had led the pack with 5 laps remaining before Rogutand Moak began their duel.

Four bicycles were given away to fifth grade students Fridaynight. The winners included Brady Crane, Hannah Moak, KentrellTucker and Heather Barker.