Banner Elk, NC--A dense fog hovered over Sugar Mountain delaying the start of the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Downhill Championships by over an hour. The late start, however, was not reflected in the results as cyclists in full gear charged down the 1.2 mile course filled with drops, jumps, rocks, straight-aways and more mud.
The morning began with Women's Division II competition. Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa, NC) supplied another national champion in Ashlee Robison who finished in 5:54:76. Leana Gerrard of Western Washington University claimed the silver with Colorado's School of Mines' (Golden, CO) Christen Boyer riding to third on the the challenging course that claimed a tire or too and even one rider's shoe.
Fort Lewis College (Durango, CO) dominated in Women's Division I Downhill taking first, second, fourth and seventh in the race. Sage Wilderman finished in a time of 5:16:02 to claim the national title while teammate Sarah Elworthy came in at 5:20:83. Cal Poly's Karin Hanzi took home the bronze finishing at 5:27:07. A third member of Fort Lewis's team, Alisha Gibson, came in fourth.
Lees-McRae's top finisher was Kristine Koch (West Falls, NY) who took eighth place in the race. Hannah Trimble (Spring, TX), still riding with a cast on her wrist, rode to 12th for the Bobcats. Riding down more than half the course on the rim of her back wheel, Olivia Maurey (Daytona Beach, FL) fought her way to a 16th place finish with Chloe Jackson (East Hampton, CT) three spots later in 19th, giving the Bobcats four of the top twenty spots.
Men's Division II was next to leave the top of the mountain, rushing down the mountain with the sun finally beginning to peak out its head after five consecutive days of steady but light rain. It was Phil Ott of Northern Michigan University (Marquette, MI) claiming the national title with a time of 4:11:95 down the muddy course. Western Washington University's (Bellingham, WA) Chris Bateman raced to second place in 4:14:02 while Brandon Turman of Colorado School of Mines (Golden, CO) placed third in the field.
The action continued and the speed increased as 52 Division I Men took to the downhill course fighting for a national title. Fort Lewis College (Durango, CO) once again grabbed another first place finish, this time with Cody Wilderman rushing to the finish line in 4:02:03. Chris Shewmake of Colorado University (Boulder, CO) claimed second place .3 seconds behind him with a time of 4:02.395. Eli Krahenbuhl of University of Wyoming settled for third.
Lees-McRae rode down a rider in this event as PJ Noto (Marlboro, NY) was pulled from the race because of injury. Omnium competitor Aaron Bradford (Auburn, WA) finshed first for the Bobcats in 14th while Steve Solt (Emmaus, PA) finished 26th. Freshman Ben Hulse (Mooresville, NC) ended up 38th after a having a great qualifying round the day before.
The USA Collegiate Cycling Mountain Bike Champsionships continue with Short Track competition Saturday afternoon back on the campus of Lees-McRae.
For Complete results, CLICK HERE.