Lees-McRae Peaking, Preparing for Nationals
The Lees-McRae cycling team traveled to The University of Georgia to compete in an SECCC conference race over the weekend coming home with a strong showing in preparation for the upcoming National Championships. The Bobcats are currently the number one ranked team in the country in Div. II cycling.
After a strong showing in Nashville last weekend, the Bobcats looked to retain last week's momentum and did so by completely dominating the competition. After this weekend's races, the Bobcats appear in control of their own destiny winning five overall races thus far with two weekends of racing to go. To complete the sweep of the A races this weekend Scott Jackson won the Individual time trail and road race while Brent Bookwalter took honors in the Criterion. Not only did Bobcat riders come away with first place finishes, teammates had top ten finishes to help dominate the weekend. In the time trial, Danny Marquardt was third, Scott Stewart fourth and Ed Burress fifth while the road race saw Stewart take third, Burress fifth and Bookwalter sixth. In the Men's B races, Lees-McRae also swept each event on the weekend. In the time trial Preston Anderson finished first, while teammate Wentworth Knipe finished second. In the road race Anderson was caught up in an early crash losing ground but was able to recover and rode a good race with his the rest of his teammates to help Knipe win a field sprint for the win. The Lady Bobcats were also impressive as Monique Hein won the women's A time trial, and almost went two for two, after coming in a close second in a sprint for the road race. In the women's B race Rebecca Conklin almost went two for two also coming in second in the time trial and then out sprinting the field to take the road race.
Sunday morning saw the men dominated once again in the criterion as Bookwalter rode away from the field and cruised to a first place finish in the A race. The Bobcats placed four riders in the top five with Cumberland's Peter Fairbanks, spoiling a sweep of the podium by the Bobcats as he finished in third. Wes Shirey rode extremely well to finish second, while Jackson took fourth and Danny Marquardt fifth respectively. Stewart continued his showing for the weekend taking sixth. The rest of the team did an excellent job of controlling the field to allow the leaders to ride away with the race. In the men's B race Anderson and Knipe both rode very well, and again the B team riders controlled the field allowing Knipe and Anderson to reverse Saturday's finish, with Knipe taking first and Anderson second. On the women's side, Hein was challenged feverishly by two other teams but was able to spring her way to a second place finish. In the women's B race, Conklin, and teammate Olivia Maurey rode extremely well to take third and fifth respectively in a field sprint.
With a strong showing in Nashville one week ago and a dominating performance this past weekend in Georgia, the Bobcats have a stranglehold on the conference lead this season and look to be peaking at the right time in preparation for the Nationals in May where the team will look to improve on last year's second place finish.
Please come out and support the Bobcats cyclists this weekend as they host a home race Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Saturday afternoon Banner Road and Center Lane in Banner Elk will be closed from 1 P.M. to 6 P.M. for the criterion race. Sunday the road race will not require any closed roads, but please come out and cheer the riders as they race up the hill on Dobbins and Horse Bottom roads. The start and finish of Sunday's race will be at the city park in Banner Elk.