Bobcat Cyclists #2 in Nation

BANNER ELK, NC--Breaking into the stranglehold that Fort Lewis and the University of Colorado-Boulder have had on the top two spots in USA Cycling's Mountain Bike Championships for years, Lees-McRae is quickly emerging to national prominence in the USA Cycling Division I scene. The Bobcats clawed their way into the number two position in the nation in just their second year of Division I competition despite dealing with several sidelining injuries this weekend.

Top performances for Lees-McRae in this national competition include freshman Mike Anderson (Alpena, MI) riding away with the Men's Division I Short Track National Title, senior Aaron Bradford (Auburn, WA) standing on the podium with a 4th in the Men's Individual Omnium and sophomore Carla Swart (Buford, GA) gutting it out to a 3rd in Short Track and a 4th in cross country.

"This past weekend was an amazing event for both Lees-McRae and College cycling. After 12 months of hard work, our school and community showed why we believe Banner Elk is one of the greatest places for bike riding. Our Bobcat team rode very strong to finish in second place overall in a very strong Division I field. I also want to send out congratulations to the other local school, Warren Wilson College, from the Asheville area, for their strong performance in finishing second in the Div II field," commented Head Coach Doug Owen at the conclusion of the event.

The Wrap Up

More than 300 cyclists from 38 Division I and 24 Division II schools descended upon the campus of Lees-McRae this past weekend for the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, the first ever held on the grounds of a college. Battling through mud, fog, and technically difficult courses these student athletes fought to win one of the 22 national championship crowns awarded over the course of the three day event.

Cross Country
Competition began Friday morning with Men's Division I cyclists hitting the rain-slickened trails first for a grueling twenty-mile contest through a course that forced many riders to run up the climbs. Perennial powerhouse Fort Lewis College (Durango, CO) rider Benjamin Sonntag took a commanding lead from the first lap and never looked back. In Men's Division II it was Colin Cares of Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO) coming in nearly five minutes before his closest competitor to claim the national title.

Although Lees-McRae did not finish in the top three, they did manage to place in four of the top sixteen spots, a feat only duplicated by Fort Lewis College on the day. Crossing the finish line first for the Bobcats was Scott Stewart who rode to eighth place. Senior Aaron Bradford (Auburn, WA) took tenth, a solid place for the only LMC rider competing for the omnium title. Junior Randy Laprairie (Warren, MI) and Mike Anderson finished 15th and 16th respectively.

A much closer race resulted in Women's Cross Country Division I action with four racers finishing within minutes of one another and some changing of positions occurring in the last five mile loop of the fifteen mile race. In the end it was Chloe Forsman of the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ) outdistancing the competition for the crown. Kylie Krauss of Warren Wilson (Swannanoa, NC) captured the national championship for Division II Women.

Lees-McRae sophomore Carla Swart (Buford, GA) competed fiercely and came across the finish line in fourth place with a giant smile and a mud-covered bike. Standing with her legs bloodied and muddied from the race, Swart said, "I am glad I raced the flats. This race was the hardest thing I've done." Ally Stacher (Etna, CA) hung on to finish 13th after crashing into a boulder early in the race. Teammates Kristi Henne (Plainview, AR) and Chloe Jackson (East Hampton, CT) both dealt with broken chains during the course of the race, but finished 21st and 34th on the day.

A dense fog hovered over Sugar Mountain delaying the start of the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Downhill Championships by over an hour Saturday morning. 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 supplied another national champion in Ashlee Robison who finished in 5:54:76. Fort Lewis College dominated in Women's Division I Downhill with Sage Wilderman taking first, and teammates grabbing second, fourth and seventh on the challenging course that claimed a tire or too and even one rider's shoe.

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. 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 once again grabbed another first place finish, this time with Cody Wilderman, brother of Div. I Women's winner Sage Wilderman, rushing to the finish line in 4:02:03.

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.

Short Track
On a crisp, but sunny afternoon competition for the USA Cycling Collegiate National Short Track Championships began back on the campus of Lees-McRae. The newly chartered course was broken in quickly by riders anxious to claim a national title in short track, which is exactly what LMC freshman Mike Anderson (Alpena, MI) did in Division I Men's competition.

The Women's Division II riders kicked off the competition Saturday afternoon on a course rerouted due to trail conditions only hours before the race began. Kay Sherwood of Colorado University raced to first place and Melissa Marts of Colorado School of Mines (Golden ,CO) while Kylie Krauss of Warren Wilson College claimed the third spot on the podium, adding to her first place finish in yesterday's grueling cross country race.

Amidst a boisterous, cowbell-ringing crowd Colin Cares of Colorado College outsped the competition in Men's Division II by twenty seconds to claim his second national title for the weekend. Teammate Mitchell Hoke grabbed second place by beating third place finisher Kyle McGilvray of Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA) by a mere seven-tenths of a second.

In Women's Division I Short Track action Eszter Horanyi of University of Colorado-Boulder outpedaled yesterday's cross country winner, Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona) by 1:22 to claim the national title. Host school Lees-McRae saw cyclist Carla Swart (Buford, GA) ride her way through the mud to a third place finish.

Next to finish for the Bobcats was Ally Stacher (Etna, CA) who pressed on despite a painful foot injury obtained in yesterday's muddy cross country race to take eighth. Teammate Jo Markham (Colliersville, TN) finished 19 seconds behind her, claiming ninth place for the Bobcats. Kristi Henne (Plainveiw, AR) finished 22nd in the field.

Freshman Mike Anderson (Alpena, MI), of host school Lees-McRae, raced to first place in Division I Men's Short Track beating out the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross Country Champion Benjamin Sonntag (Fort Lewis) for the national title. Tim Allen of NAU/VooDoo claimed third in this intensely fought race.

After claiming the national title, the Bobcats added a seventh place finish with Eric Thompson (Shoreview, MN). Aaron Bradford (Auburn, WA) managed to hang on for a 19th place finish, giving him more points toward the individual omnium title he is pursuing this weekend. Randy Laprairie (Warren, MI), filling in for an injured Scott Stewart (Oxford, MI), ended up 33rd in a race he wasn't planning on competing in.

Dual Slalom
The USA Cycling Collegiate Dual Slalom Championships began Sunday morning. Though the temperature was cold, competition heated up quickly as racers flew down the course in pursuit of individual national titles and many raced with the added motivation of an omnium title. By the end of the

The morning began with qualifying for the women followed by the men's runs. Sixteen women at each level made it into the first round of finals, while the men fielded 32 in each division for the first round with two racers competing head-to-head in a best of three series to determine which rider would be moving into the next round.

In Division II Women Leana Gerrard of Western Washington University completely dominated the field, going undefeated the entire day, crossing the finish line a final time to capture the national title.

In an event that saw many races go the three run distance, the finals in Women's Division I was no exception. After splitting the first two races, the first by hundredths of a second, the cyclists went to a third trek down the course. Neven Steinmetz of University of Colorado-Boulder edged out Sarah Elsworthy of Fort Lewis College for the gold in the final race.

Three of four of Lees-McRae's women made it into the brackets, but were not able to move into the next round of eight. Olivia Maurey (Daytona Beach, FL), Hannah Trimble (Spring, TX), Kristine Koch (Westfalls, NY) were seeded 13, 15, 16 respectively, with teammate Carla Swart (Buford, GA) barely missing the cutoff with a 17 seed.

In Men's Division II action it was Geoff Fryer of East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, TN) going all the way, defeating Alexander Lewis of Warren Wilson for the championship.

In intense Div I Men's competition it was Cody Stagner of Lindsey Wilson College (Columbia, KY) outracing teammate Weston Pope for the Dual Slalom National Championship.

For the Lees-McRae men, freshman Ben Hulse took a fall in a third race losing in the elite eight, leaving him in 6th place for the day. Aaron Bradford finished 12th, while Steve Solt missed the seeded 32 bracket by placing 36th in qualifying. PJ Noto did not compete in the race due to an injury sustained earlier in the week.

Team & Individual Omnium
This year in Division I perennial cycling powerhouse Fort Lewis College (Durango, CO) prevailed over a program that is quickly emerging to national prominence, host school Lees-McRae College (Banner Elk, NC). Another perennial power, the University of Colorado-Boulder trailed closely behind the much smaller liberal arts Lees-McRae. In Division II compettion it was the Colorado School of Mines (Golden, CO) grabbing a victory by a very slim margin over North Carolina's Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa, NC).

In the end it was the four winners of the cross country races that kicked off the championships who prevailed to become the Individual Omnium award winners. Four different institutions were represented by these winners. In Division I Men, Benjamin Sonntag of Fort Lewis College, capturing a first in cross country and a second in short track, took home the crown. Division II Men's Omnium was won by Colin Cares (Colorado College). In the Division I Women's Omnium Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona) forged ahead of the others to claim the national title while Kylie Kraus (Warren Wilson) came out the victor in Women's Division II, the tightest omnium contest.

Senior Lees-McRae cyclist Aaron Bradford stood on the podium in the Men's Division I Indiviual Omnium in fourth place.

In Summary
This USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Championships marks the first time the event has been physically held on a college campus, and the overall consensus from coaches and athletes leaving Banner Elk was overwhelmingly positive. Athletic Director Ried Estus had this to say about this past weekend, "Certainly I'm proud of the student athletes and what they accomplished over the weekend. I know how hard they've trained the last year preparing for this one weekend event. I'm equally impressed with the support we received from the faculty, staff and student body. An event of this magnitude is only as good as the volunteers supporting it. I was overwhelmed with the way our volunteers supported us this weekend. I would also like to thank the towns of Banner Elk and Sugar Mountain for their cooperation and assistance in making this event possible."

The 2008 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Championships are scheduled to be back here next fall.

A listing of top five for each event follows. For complete results visit

Division I Men's Cross Country
1. Benjamin Sonntag (Fort Lewis College)
2. Adam Snyder (Fort Lewis College)
3. Spencer Paxson (Middlebury College)
4. Tim Allen (Northern Arizona University)
5. Mitchell Peterson (University of Utah)

Division II Men's Cross Country
1. Colin Cares (Colorado College)
2. Tristan Cowie (Brevard College)
3. Andrew Freye (University of Southern Maine)
4. Christopher Parrish (Western Washington University)
5. Robert Jameson (Appalachian State University)

Division I Women's Cross Country
1. Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona)
2. Amanda Miller (Colorado State University)
3. Jamie Dinkins (University of Tennessee-Chattanooga)
4. Carla Swart (Lees-McRae College)
5. Teal Stetson-Lee (Fort Lewis College)

Division II Women's Cross Country
1. Kylie Krauss (Warren Wilson College)
2. Kate Chapman (Western State College)
3. Naticia Slusher (Mesa State University)
4. Karen Amundson (Cumberland University)
5. Kay Sherwood (Colorado College)

Division I Men's Downhill
1. Cody Wilderman (Fort Lewis College) 4:02:030
2. Chris Shewmake (University of Colorado-Boulder) 4:02:395
3. Eli Krahenbuhl (University of Wyoming) 4:05.669
4. James Patterson (University of Vermont) 4:07:819
5. Charles Mooney (Lindsey Wilson College) 4:08:533

Division II Men's Downhill
1. Phil Ott (Northern Michigan University) 4:11:952
2. Chris Bateman (Western Washington University) 4:14.12
3. Brandon Turman (Colorado School of Mines) 4:17.24
4. Mike Howse (Mesa State University) 4:19:693
5. Michael Thomas (Appalachian State University) 4:25:529

Division I Women's Downhill
1. Sage Wilderman (Fort Lewis College) 5:16:088
2. Sarah Elworthy (Fort Lewis College) 5:20:834
3. Karin Hanzi (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) 5:27:077
4. Alisha Gibson (Fort Lewis College) 5:33:409
5. Neven Steinmetz (University of Colorado-Boulder) 5:52:159

Division II Women's Downhill
1. Ashlee Robison (Warren Wilson College) 5:54.768
2. Leana Gerrard (Western Washington University) 6:00:875
3. Christen Boyer (Colorado School of Mines) 6:26:537
4. Robyn Embrey (Sierra Nevada College) 6:40:335
5. Jamie Bourgo (Michigan Tech Copper County) 6:50:556

Division I Men's Short Track
1. Mike Anderson (Lees-McRae College) 32:49
2. Benjamin Sonntag (Fort Lewis College) 33:15
3. Tim Allen (Northern Arizona University) 33:34
4. Rick Wetherald (Fort Lewis College) 33:59
5. Adam Snyder (Fort Lewis College) 34:11

Division II Men's Short Track
1. Colin Cares (Colorado College) 36:37
2. Mitchell Hoke (Colorado College) 37:07
3. Kyle McGilvary (Western Washington University) 37:08
4. Greg Gibson (Union College) 37:39
5. Logan Wetzel (Western Washington University) 38:04

Division I Women's Short Track
1. Eszter Horanyi (University of Colorado-Boulder) 36:23
2. Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona) 37:45
3. Carla Swart (Lees-McRae College) 38:22
4. Maureen Kunz (University of California-Berkeley) 38:39
5. Teal Stetson-Lee (Fort Lewis College) 38:40

Division II Women's Short Track
1. Kay Sherwood (Colorado College) 35:41
2. Melissa Marts (Colorado School of Mines) 35:51
3. Kylie Krauss (Warren Wilson College) 36:03
4. Kate Chapman (Western State College) 36:59
5. Karen Amundson (Cumberland University) 37:43

Division I Men's Dual Slalom
1. Cody Stagner (Lindsey Wilson College)
2. Weston Pope (Lindsey Wilson College)
3. Erik Nelson (Northern Arizona University)
4. Kyle Hickey (University of Vermont)
5. Chris Shewmake (University of Colorado-Boulder)

Division I Women's Dual Slalom
1. Neven Steinmetz (University of Colorado-Boulder)
2. Sarah Elsworthy (Fort Lewis College)
3. Ashely Grubb (Fort Lewis College)
4. Danae York (University of Colorado-Boulder)
5. Samantha Hadley (Lindsey Wilson College)

Division II Men's Dual Slalom
1. Geoff Fryer (East Tennessee State University)
2. Alexander Lewis (Warren Wilson College)
3. Deider Barrick (Colorado School of Mines)
4. Patrick Hurley (Warren Wilson College)
5. Michael Thomas (Appalachian State University)

Division II Women's Dual Slalom
1. Leana Gerrard (Western Washington University)
2. Jamie Bourgo (Michigan Tech Copper Country)
3. Ashlee Robison (Warren Wilson College)
4. Christen Boyer (Colorado School of Mines)
5. Myra Dyer (Colorado School of Mines)

Division I Team Omnium
1. Fort Lewis College 730
2. Lees McRae College 635
3. University of Colorado-Boulder 621
4. Lindsey Wilson College 527
5. University of Vermont 470

Division II Team Omnium
1. Colorado School of Mines 636
2. Warren Wilson College 626
3. Mesa State College 535
4. Union College 515
5. Western State College 477

Division I Men's Individual Omnium
1. Benjamin Sonntag (Fort Lewis College) 330
2. Rick Wetherald (Fort Lewis College) 302
3. Adam Snyder (Fort Lewis College) 294
4. Aaron Bradford (Lees-McRae College) 287
5. Tim Allen (Northern Arizona University) 286

Division I Women's Individual Omnium
1. Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona) 404
2. Eszter Horanyi (University of Colorado-Boulder) 384
3. Danae York (University of Colorado-Boulder) 377
4. Maureen Kunz (University of California-Berkeley) 354
5. Rose Long (University of Vermont) 344

Division II Men's Individual Omnium
1. Colin Cares (Colorado College) 340
2. Patrick Hurley (Warren Wilson College) 302
3. Patrick Means (Western Washington University) 298
4. Gregy Gibson (Union College) 290
5. Robert Jameson (Appalachian State University) 278

Division II Women's Individual Omnium
1. Kylie Krauss (Warren Wilson College) 446
2. Kate Chapman (Western State College) 432
3. Naticia Slusher (Mesa State College) 430
4. Karen Amundson (Cumberland University) 392
5. Melissa Marts (Colorado School of Mines) 380