(WJHL) – From the time she first took a lap around the neighborhood on her mom’s old bike in Apple Valley, California, Megan Jastrab could have never dreamed of what she has accomplished in collegiate cycling.
“I don’t think I came into Milligan thinking that I was going to be the most decorated athlete coming out of there,” she said via Zoom from her apartment in the Netherlands.
But – after defending both of her national titles at the Collegiate Road National Championships earlier this month – it’s what she became. The wins gave her a ninth and tenth individual national title.
“It’s pretty special,” she said. “Winning ten national titles for Milligan after all the support I’ve been given, too. It’s nice to give back.”
But, before her tenth national title, or even her first – and favorite – championship at Indoor Collegiate Track Nationals in 2019, Jastrab has been cycling at a high level.
And earning some money while doing it.
“We are not under the NAIA rules or the NCAA rules, so I’ve been professional since, I guess, I was 16,” she explained.
Jastrab has experience on some of the world’s biggest cycling stages, as she won a Junior Road World Championship back in 2019. She also has a bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics, competing in the Women’s Team Pursuit event.
She has designs on wearing the stars and stripes again in 2024.
“I want to represent Team USA at the Olympics again in Paris,” she said.
But first, she has her eyes on an Elites Road World Championship.
“You get a special jersey with rainbow bands and you get to wear it for the whole next season,” she explained. “If you become road world champion, it’s bigger than winning the Olympics in cycling.”
With Jastrab’s talent, she quickly earned a professional contract, and currently competes with Team DSM in Europe.
But still, she insisted on staying at Milligan to earn her dual degree in exercise science and business.
“Especially being homeschooled and everything, education has been such a big part of my life,” she said.
The life of a full-time student and full-time professional athlete was never easy.
“It was a lot of emailing professors and asking if they can transfer their classes online,” she said.
But, from the make-up tests to the consistent flights between Europe and the Tri-Cities, it was all worth it in the end.
“Making some of my best friends – the coach, the team, the racing – just the whole environment of Milligan – everything is just so special and so wonderful,” she said.
Jastrab is currently living over in the Netherlands as she continues to compete in various races for Team DSM, with her next race coming in the Netherlands on Friday, May 19.