Program History

The Bobcat cycling program began in 2001 when college counselor Sean McAndrew and some students decided to start a cycling club at Lees-McRae College. With a history of cycling in the area, including America’s most prestigious race in the mid- 90s, the Tour du Pont, featuring riders like Lance Armstrong and Greg Lemond, Lees-McRae seemed like a great place to start a cycling program. That year, a few riders set out to compete in a mountain bike race for the first time in Lees-McRae’s history, using old soccer jerseys as uniforms. 

Within a year, the riders and Coach McAndrew discovered they were onto something, and proposed that the school create a varsity sport for cycling. With varsity funding and scholarships, the school was able to recruit riders into the program from around the country, including current professional riders Brent Bookwalter and Aaron Bradford, to build the team.

In October 2003, Lees-McRae won its first Division II Mountain Bike national title, under Coach Levi Olsen, and set a championship standard. The team went on to win two more national titles in Division II mountain biking, before eventually expanding in 2005.  Under new head coach Doug Owen, the program expanded to other disciplines such as road, cyclocross and track.

In the fall of 2006, the team petitioned, and was granted admission, to compete at the Division I level.  They became the smallest school to ever compete in any D I collegiate competition.  Coach Owen brought in former professional cyclist, Brian Sheedy, as the first assistant coach for the program.  Coach Sheedy went on to become head coach of the team in July of 2008.

In 2009, former LMC cyclist Luke Winger took over the reins of the program and led the team to the 2010 Cylcocross National Championship.

The legacy continued as the team earned their first Division I Cyclocross national title in December 2006. In the fall’s of 2007 and 2008, Lees-McRae would host the Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships on campus, these events were the first time any college had hosted a Mountain Bike National Championship on their campus!

In 2007, the team finished the year as the number one ranked Division I team in the country.   While head coach of the cycling program, Coach Owen directed the team to four Team Omnium National titles, two Team Time Trial National titles and 18 Individual National titles.

In the 2008 – 2009 academic year, Carla Swart accomplished a first: she won the overall individual omnium titles in all four cycling disciplines -track, mountain, cyclocross and road in the same school year!

Our current riders can now be seen racing in Europe, Africa and North America, and have continued to show their Bobcat pride at races all over the world.

 

Lees-McRae Road Program History

With the success of the mountain bike team in the early years, the Bobcats looked to transition the success onto the pavement. However, winning proved to be less than easy. On the road, no longer would the strongest team win, but rather, the smartest and most unified teams would prevail. 

Success on the road was slow to come for the Bobcats unlike the early accomplishments in mountain biking. Winning races on the road seemed more difficult as the newly formed team tried to compete against seasoned programs. The team won their first road conference team overall title in spring of 2005.

At Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., just a few days after receiving the news that team captain Stuart Lamp had been diagnosed with cancer, Stuart soloed away to victory with team support.  This event set the stage for a new future. In May 2005, Lees-McRae won its first national road event of any kind, with a dominating win for the team time trial national title. Their performance eclipsed the top Div I teams.

 

History of Track cycling at Lees-McRae College

In 2003, Clara Beard and Luke Winger, two riders with extensive track backgrounds, approached head coach Levi Olson about competing in the Collegiate Track National Championships. In 2005 Coach Owen sent the first squad to represent LMC to track nationals. Luke Winger came home with his first collegiate podium finish.

Over the next few years, Beard, Winger and the coaching staff began teaching the team the rules, races and etiquette of the track. They took frequent trips to the Asheville Mellowdrome (A 500 meter car speedway), the Dick Lane Velodrome in Atlanta and traveled to the velodrome in Rochester, Mich. to practice.

In 2006, Lees-McRae fielded their first full team at the Track National Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. and walked away with a podium finish in the overall omnium.

In the following years, Kasey Manderfield, Carla Swart, Scott Jackson, and Rachel Warner, would bring home medals in multiple disciplines and show the country that Lees-McRae could and would compete in any discipline of the cycling.

 

History of Cyclocross at Lees-McRae College

Cyclocross was at the heart of the Lees-McRae Cycling team even before it became a major discipline for the program. In 2003, Lees-McRae recruited two of America’s best junior Cyclocross racers to lead the mountain and road teams. Brent Bookwalter and Aaron Bradford, fueled by a love for the sport, began setting up courses and inviting riders to join them as they trained. Volunteering as coaches, the two taught their teammates how to start, bunny hop, maneuver, and train and compete in the way they were taught on the US National Team.

In 2005, Lees-McRae brought for the first time a full squad of men and women to the Cyclocross National Championships in Providence, R.I. In extreme cold and blizzard conditions, Michigan native Brent Bookwalter rode away to win the event, and the team would finish tied for first place with Division I powerhouse Fort Lewis, but had to settle for second place on the podium in their first attempt.  Starting in 2006, USAC awarded a title in both Div I and Div II cycling. 

In 2006, Lees-McRae moved up to the Division I level and would return to the Cyclocross Nationals. The team won the National Cyclocross Championships and would go on to win three straight national titles in the discipline.

Today, Lees-McRae considers cyclocross to be one of their primary events and plans to continue to pursue excellence for years to come.

 

 

Program Timeline 

2001

Club team formed - Gravity riders with soccer jersey’s

 

2002 - Coach Sean McAndrew

Declared a varsity sport; competed in first national championship MTB/ Road

 

2003

DII MTB Nationals - Coach Levi Olson

Team Omnium National Champions (first team title)

- Individual winners

Brent Bookwalter- Cross Country

Monique Hein – Dual Slalom

Aaron Bradford- Omnium

 

2004

DII MTB Nationals – Coach Sean McAndrew

Team Omnium National Champions

- Individual Winners

Brent Bookwalter- Cross Country

Taylor Tolleson- Short track

Monique Hein- Dual Slalom

Aaron Bradford- Downhill

Brent Bookwalter- Omnium

 

2005

DII Road Nationals - Coach Doug Owen

- Winners

Team Time Trial (Men) Brent Bookwalter, Taylor Tolleson, Stuart Lamp, Aram Dellalian

Brent Bookwalter- Omnium winner

 

DII MTB Nationals - Coach Doug Owen

Team Omnium National Champions

- Individual Winners

Brent Bookwalter- Short track

Brent Bookwalter- Cross country

Brent Bookwalter- Omnium

Monique Hein- Short track

Monique Hein- Omnium

 

DII Cyclocross Nationals - Coach Doug Owen

- Individual Winners

Brent Bookwalter – Cyclocross

 

2006

Division II Road nationals - Coach Doug Owen

- Winners

Team Time Trial – Brent Bookwalter, Ed Burress, Wentworth Knipe, Scott Jackson

Scott Jackson- Criterium

Scott Jackson – Omnium

Brent Bookwalter- Road Race

Finished 2005-2006 school year ranked number one in Div II collegiate cycling

 

Fall of 2006

Moved to Division I program

Division I Cyclocross Nationals - Coach Doug Owen

Team Omnium National Champions (first Div I team title)

- Individual winners

Clara Beard- DI Women’s race

 

2006-2007 school year

Finished year Ranked No. 1 Collegiate team in Div I cycling

 

2007

MTB Nationals - Coach Doug Owen

- Individual Winners- Mike Anderson Short Track

 

Track Nationals - Coach Doug Owen

Kacey Manderfield- Points Race

 

Cyclocross Nationals - Coach Doug Owen

Team Omnium National Champions

Kacey Manderfield- Women’s DI

 

2008

Division I Road Nationals - Coach Doug Owen

Team Omnium National Champions (first time school East of the Rockies had won Div I road title)

- Individual Winners

Carla Swart - Road Race/ Omnium

Andrew Talanski- Road Race/ Omnium

 

MTB Nationals - Coach Brian Sheedy

- Individual Winners

Carla Swart – Cross country, Short track, Omium

Chloe Jackson- Dual Slalom

 

Track Nationals - Coach Brian Sheedy

- Individual Winners

Carla Swart- Pursuit, Match Sprints, Omnium

 

Cyclocross Nationals - Coach Brian Sheedy

Team Omnium National Champions

- Individual Winners

Carla Swart – Women DI

 

2009

Road Nationals - Coach Luke Winger

- Individual Winners

Carla Swart- Road Race, Omnium

 

Mountain Bike Nationals - Coach Luke Winger

- Indivdiual Winners

Carla Swart- Short track, Omnium

 

2010

Road Nationals - Coach Luke Winger

- Individual Winners

Carla Swart- RR, Omnium

 

Track Nationals - Coach Luke Winger

Rachel Warner - 3k National Champion

 

Mountain Bike Nationals - Coach Luke Winger

- Individual Winners

Ben Hulse – 4 X

Erica Zaveta- Cross Country

 

Cyclocross Nationals - Coach Luke Winger

Team Omnium Win

 

Road Nationals - Coach Luke Winger

2nd place overall team