Photo credit to Sammy Croft
BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College cycling team is set to host its first event of the season in Banner Elk, at the High Country Collegiate MTB Challenge this weekend (Sat. Sept. 22-Sun. Sept. 23).
Event Preview - The event will take place in Banner Elk at Lees-McRae's home course, and will feature teams from both the Southeast Collegiate Cycling Conference (SECCC) and the Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference (ACCC).
"We are thrilled to host schools from all over the Atlantic Coast and Southeast, we will have upwards of 250 riders participating," said head coach Tim Hall. "There will be a large crowd on campus and in Banner Elk this weekend."
Hall also said that his team takes pride in what hosting an event means for the team.
"We always pride ourselves on putting on a well-run event, and one that everyone enjoys and is challenged by what we have to offer," said Hall.
Hall noted that his team expects to perform well in familiar territory at its home course.
"We expect our performance to be solid in every category, male and female, mainly due to their motivation to want to do well in front of the home crowd as well as the fact that they do know the courses very well," said Hall.
Assistant Coach Bryan Jorgensen chimed in on some details of the courses for this weekend's events.
"Our trails look pretty good after Hurricane Florence came through," said Jorgensen. "We do have one or two new sections that will be a change-up from what it was last year."
Jorgensen also noted that he is excited for his first home race as assistant coach.
"We're looking for good results from the team, they've been out practicing these trails quite a bit," said Jorgensen. "This race is a tougher one if not the toughest terrain-wise that we will run in this conference."
Jorgensen went on to elaborate further on the courses themselves and what makes Banner Elk such a tough place to race.
"It is very technical and physically exhausting, just up and down, up and down and there's no room for rest," said Jorgensen.
Standings Update - LMC currently leads the SECCC through two mountain races.
"We have had two successful weekends thus far, and we would like to be able to carry that conference-leading momentum into the final mountain bike race at Union College next week," said Hall. "Our goal would be to win the conference overall."
Last Time Out - LMC last competed at Brevard College's mountain bike event on Sept. 9-10, and collected several podium as well as top-10 finishes. On Saturday, the team participated in cross-country and dual slalom events. On day two, the riders competed in short-track and downhill events.
The men placed three riders in the top 10 in the A cross-country event, with Nolan VanderZwaag taking second, Jack Perry taking sixth and Nicholas Sdrenka finishing in ninth. James Kreuzburg would take third in the B cross-country event, while Zach Ross would place ninth. Jake Kahn would finish fourth in A dual slalom, while Anthony Khare would take seventh and Michael Fuerst would finish on his heels in eighth. Andrew Blackstone also finished sixth in the B dual slalom event. In the A short-track event, the Bobcats placed four riders in the top 10 in VanderZwaag (second), Sdrenka (fifth), Sparks (seventh) and Blackstone (10th). Three men placed in the top five in the B short-track event, with Kruezburg finishing second, Joe Penley taking third and Ross crossing the line in fourth. Dewight Winchester would take fourth in the C short-track event, while Jacob Tarbay finished 12th. The men also placed five riders in the top 10 in the A downhill event in David Kahn (second), Jake Kahn (sixth), Khare (seventh), Fuerst (ninth) and Perry (10th). Blackstone was also the top finisher in the B downhill race, taking fourth.
Four women placed in the top 10 in the A cross-country event in Veronica Laughton (fifth), Erin Sferrazza (eighth), Svetlana Mack (ninth) and Kiley Krasley (10th), while Marla Cline also took 11th in the race. Laughton also won the A dual slalom event, while Mack finished eighth. Sferrazza and Cline would finish eighth and ninth respectively in the B/C dual slalom event. Sferrazza took sixth in the A short-track race, while Laughton took eighth. Laughton would go on to take second in the A downhill event. Mack took second in the B/C downhill event, while Cline and Sferrazza finished back-to-back in sixth and seventh.
Up Next - LMC will travel to Barbourville, Ky. for the Mad Dog MTB event hosted by Union College next weekend (Sept. 29-30). This will be the final race of the mountain bike season before the Collegiate MTB Nationals.