A national powerhouse cycling team and a strong biology and medical program made Marian University the perfect fit for Jacob Clapp.
The Columbus East senior, who has been competing in BMX since he was 6 years old, recently signed to compete for the Knights beginning this fall.
Prior to the USA Cycling Collegiate Championships being canceled last year because of COVID-19, Marian had won all seven national BMX titles since adding the discipline in 2013.
“Ever since then, I’ve gone up there and trained and rode with the BMX team,” Clapp said. “So I’ve gotten to know everybody on the team and have been dead set on racing for Marian. It’s been like a dream.”
BMX was added as an Olympic discipline to cycling in 2008 and is one of five disciplines in USA Collegiate Cycling, which is separate from the NCAA. The disciplines which make up the “Omnium” are BMX, cyclocross, mountain bike, road bike and track riding.
Clapp will focus on BMX, but also could do some mountain biking, which features dual slalom and gravity mountain biking.
“I definitely think this year will be my strongest,” Clapp said. “I have access to all the training I need. Last year, it was tough because most of the tracks were closed because of COVID.”
Clapp won state BMX state championships in 2011 and 2012 and captured three national titles in 2014 and one in 2017. He competed in 2017 World Championships in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Last year was a painful one for Clapp. He was practicing in Louisville in November 2019 when one of the pedals on his bike scraped the asphalt at the bottom of a hill, going about 30 MPH. He went face first over the handlebars into the base of the course’s first jump.
Clapp sustained a compound fracture in his elbow and bruised both lungs. A chest X-ray revealed blood clots in his lungs, and he had to be on blood thinners for four months.
“That was a huge setback last year,” Clapp said. “But it was kind of nice because COVID kind of shut down the season anyway, so I had time to recover.”
That wasn’t the first time Clapp has been injured. He has broken his wrist several times and has had bruised lungs.
“I’ve had a few (injuries) before, but that was definitely the worst,” Clapp said.
Clapp returned to action in July for a state qualifier at the Columbus BMX track. In September, he competed a national race on the same course in Louisville where he had been injured and finished in the top 20 out of about 50 riders in his class.
“It was my first race back, so I was really out of it,” Clapp said. “But I did good for being injured the whole year.”
USA Collegiate Cycling features two divisions — club and varsity teams. Marian is a varsity team with a coaching staff and ability to offer scholarships.
Clapp, who earned an academic and athletic scholarship, is one of three Indiana natives in next year’s freshman class, joining Drew Polk of Avon and Nico Pareja of Brownsburg.
“Me and the other two freshman that are going in have all raced together for a really long time, and we’re pretty good friends,” Clapp said. “Then, they have some older kids who are really good, as well.”
Clapp has a 3.94 GPA and has earned an Academic letter from East. He is a member of HOSA future health professionals.
At Marian, Clapp plans to major in biology and minor in chemistry. He wants to go to medical school and become either a dermatologist or pediatrician.
“He’s going to be a great addition for us,” said John Hoopingarner, director of performance for the Marian cycling program. “He’s going to come in with two of his close friends who are from Indiana, and they have great potential. He has a lot of potential, too. He’s a great kid in the classroom and on the bike. He’ll be a great asset for us.”