October 26, 2006

Lees-McRae Cycling Places Third

After three straight years of winning the Division II National Championship, the Lees-McRae College Bobcats cycling team made the tough decision to move up to Division I, the smallest school in the country competing at the Division I level in any sport. The Bobcats headed to New Mexico for the weekend of October 20-22 to compete, arriving four days early to acclimatize themselves to the 11, 000 foot altitude.

With a favorable class schedule that had the Nationals the final weekend of Fall Break, the Bobcats took full advantage of getting there early after traveling back to back 14 hour days. The course had been used for the 2005 World Cup, which meant many of the Bobcats would be challenged by the course alone, let alone the competitive Division I field. Arriving four days prior to racing not only allowed the Bobcats to get use to the elevation, but also to get familiar with the challenging course itself.

Competing for the Bobcats were seniors Brent Bookwalter, Danny Marquardt, Wed Shirey, Robert Jameson and Lady Bobcat seniors Clara Beard and Monique Hein. Olivia Maurey was the lone junior racing, while a trio of sophomores, Scott Stewart, Kristi Henne and Ally Stacher as well as freshman PJ Post, PJ Noto, Steve Solt, Chloe Jackson and Jo Markham made the trek out west. The six seniors had all been a part of the three Division II National Championships, while the talent of the sophomores and freshman exhibited the depth and strength the Bobcats have now and in the future.

Anxious to get started, the Bobcats did not disappoint. A team goal of making the top five had been discussed and worked towards all season. The hard work had certainly paid off as consistent finishes amongst both the men and women placed the Bobcats in third place overall in the team competition. Three Bobcats managed to find their way to the podium in the individual competition. Stewart placed fourth in the cross country race while Post and Hein each placed fifth in the mountain cross race.

In the final omnium, Stewart placed seventh while Bookwalter finished tenth. On the women's side, Hein placed tenth and Henne fifteenth, to lead Lees-McRae to their third place finish. With their podium finish in the team competition, the Bobcats are the only team in Division I to have podium finishes in both Track and Mountain Bike Nationals.
The Bobcats are currently ranked as the number one cycling team in the nation, with the Cyclo Cross National Championships coming up in December. The Bobcats will look to better their second place finish at last year's event and remain as the top ranked cycling team in the country.

Listed below are the top ten team omnium results.

1 Fort Lewis College 698 PTS
2 University of Colorado 674
3 Lees-McRae College 573
4 Colorado State University 548
5 Lindsey Wilson College 473
6 Mesa State 464
7 Northern Arizona University 464
8 Cal Poly Wheelman 373
9 UC-Berkeley 346
10 University of Vermont 280

Full results can be found at www.cyclingnews.com