Lees-McRae Cyclists Set to Compete in the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships

A group of sixteen athletes from all across the nation will be competing in events this weekend for Lees-McRae College. The Bobcats are top contenders for nationals with tough competition expected from defending champions Fort Lewis College of Durango, Col.; University of Colorado at Boulder; Lindsey Wilson College of Columbia, Ky.; and Colorado State University. Many cyclists are competing in more than one event, and four riders (Aaron Bradford, Kristi Henne, Ally Stacher and Carla Swart) will be racing in all four events in pursuit of an overall omnium title.

Aaron Bradford
Cross Country, Down Hill, Short Track and Dual Slalom
Senior Communication Arts Auburn, Washington

Aaron Bradford was born and raised just south of Seattle, Washington where his passion for cycling began at the age of 13. Since the beginning of his racing career, he has traveled to 48 different states and experienced diverse cultures of 17 European and South American countries. His career highlights include being a two-time US team member for the Cyclocross World Championships, two-time US team member for Mountain Bike World Championships, two 3rd place finishes in World Cups, and also individual national titles for 24 hour racing, collegiate omnium, and collegiate downhill.

Ben Hulse
Downhill and Dual Slalom
Sophomore Mooresville, North Carolina

Ben Hulse was born in Costa Mesa, California to Doug and Jillian Hulse but moved to Mooresville, North Carolina when he was five years old. Hulse started riding in 2003 with his cousin Parker Worthington. He races downhill, dual slalom, mtx, and super D and especially loves to ride in the mud. His greatest accomplishment so far is a sixth place finish at Sugar Mountain in Jr X. 18 & Under at the Norba Nationals. Hulse's favorite rider is Steve Peat. He plans to continue to race and qualify for a UCI event.

Randy Laprairie
Cross Country and Short Track
Senior  Philosophy  Warren, Michigan

Randy Laprairie is from Warren, Michigan where he lived until moving to Banner Elk in August of 2007. He is the only child of Mike and Joyce Laprairie. He started riding a bike when he was four years old and often rode around his neighborhood. Laprairie stopped riding bikes for some time in high school and his first years of college in order to run cross country and track, but started riding and competing again during the autumn of 2005. Laprairie's greatest accomplishment has been to place 4th in a prestigious bike race in Michigan called "The Iceman" after only one year of training. He has also placed well in other races.

P J Noto
Downhill and Dual Slalom
Junior  Business Marketing  Marlboro, New York

PJ Noto is a marketing major from Marlboro, New York. Other than ride, he likes to hunt, fish, play basketball, rockclimb, and ride motocross. He thanks his mother and father for supporting him in racing and giving him a good push to keep going. Noto got into racing in the summer of 2006 and is now hooked on it. Noto was hooked on motocross until he picked up a downhill bike. He would love to race World Cups in the next few years. He plans to continue racing as long as he physically can and when he can't, he's going to hop in a race car.

Brad Perley
Short Track and Cross Country
Sophomore  Business  Kennebunkport, Maine

Brad Perley is a sophomore business major from Kennebunkport, Maine. He was raised by his loving parents, Doug and Jody. His love for mountain bikes stems all the way back to middle school thanks to an awesome group of friends and their 7th grade teacher. The friends would get together and ride around the trails in Maine for hours having a great time just being out on their bikes. Being a true Northeast guy, when not riding Brad enjoys cross country skiing and sledding, as well as just hanging out with friends. Being only a sophomore Brads future plans only extend so far as knowing that he wants to graduate from LMC and continue to ride his bike as long as possible.

Steve Solt
Downhill and Dual Slalom
Junior  Business  Emmaus, Pennsylvania

Born and raised in Emmaus, PA, Steve is the only child of Doug and Sue Solt. Solt got started in cycling kind of randomly. He was out with some friends, and one of them knew of some trails near his house, so they decided to go exploring. After that Solt just kept going, exploring more and more. Then a new bike shop arrived in town. He hung out around there a lot learning almost everything he knows. After his first season, racing turned into an addiction, and he's been hooked ever since. Solt's greatest accomplishments include racing for one of the coolest bike shops he's been to (Hey, it's got a coffee bar!) in the Mid-Atlantic Super Series, racing in the closest downhill races he can find, and racing for the nationals gravity team at Lees-McRae. His goals are to win the collegiate nationals gravity race, and the US Nationals for both gravity and cross country

Scott Stewart
Cross Country, Short Track and Dual Slalom
Senior  Biology  Oxford, Michigan

Scott Stewart is a 21 year old biology major from Oxford, Michigan. When just a wee lad he did his first bike race and the rest is in the books. Throughout the summer he races road bikes, but come fall it is 100% mountain biking. This is the fourth time he's raced collegiate nationals and says that every year it just gets better. When not studying hard, Scott likes to ride the pump track, fly fish, grill, cook for girls, and huck off stuff on the mountain bike trails. Scott's motto in life is "I don't gotta rap, I can sell a mil sayin' nothin' on the track."

Eric Thompson
Cross Country, Short Track and Dual Slalom
Sophomore  Communication Arts  Shoreview, Minnesota

Eric Thompson is a 19 year old sophomore from Shoreview, Minnesota. His dad introduced mountain biking to him when he was eight years old. Thompson has been racing ever since. His strongest disciplines in cycling are short track mountain bike races and cyclocross. The proudest moment in his life was winning the 2007 Mountain Bike Short Track National Championship at Mount Snow, Vermont. Thompson has one sister, Stephanie, and three dogs named Kiska, Coco, and Pepper. In his free time he loves to hang out with friends and ride his bikes. In the winter Thompson enjoys Nordic skiing, skijoring, and snowboarding.

AnnaJean "Niki" Dellaire
Cross Country and Short Track
Senior  Louisville, Kentucky

Her real name is AnnaJean, but everyone calls her Niki. Dellaire has the best big brother in the world who has served two tours as an army medic in Iraq and is an avid runner. His kind personality constantly reminds her that the real winners in life are those that are the kindest and most gentle with others. Dellaire was always interested in cycling, but never rode until she met her boyfriend Rob. Rob used to take her on crazy long rides in the country where she would just sit in his draft and suffer. A couple times she even started to cry. Those rides were damage-control, suffer-fests, but Dellaire would refuse to let him know how much she was hurting. She just put her head down and pedaled. It was the best training she could have ever asked for. By the time Dellaire entered her first race she was already used to suffering silently while pedaling. November will mark her second year racing, and she is looking forward to seeing where cycling will take her.

Chloe Jackson
Downhill and Dual Slalom
Junior  Communication Arts  East Hampton, Connecticut

Chloe Jackson grew up in Connecticut, but decided to head south to pursue a collegiate cycling career at Lees-McRae College. Though cycling has always shaped her life she is beginning to see beyond the bike and look towards graduate school and pursuing her major instead. This year she will only be racing gravity events at nationals, but will, as always, put her best foot forward. Though Jackson's background is in the endurance events she thinks gravity is much more fun. She'd much rather go down the hill than up!

Kristi Henne
Short Track, Cross Country, Downhill and Dual Slalom
Senior  Pre-Med  Plainview, Arkansas

Kristi Henne grew up in Plainview, Arkansas and began racing at the age of 12. Cycling is very much a family affair with Henne; her parents and sister also race. Some of her accomplishments include competing as a junior in the Pan American Championships in Banos, Ecuador for the US National team in 2004 and being on the Lees-McRae Cycling team. The best part of collegiate cycling to Henne is being successful as a team and she is privileged to be apart of such a great program. Kristi is a senior, pre-health major at LMC that will be graduating in May and hopefully beginning medical school next fall.

Jo Markham
Cross Country and Short Track
Senior Communication Arts Memphis, Tennessee

Jo Markham, the daughter of Roger and Sue Markham, competes on the mountain bike, cyclocross, and road teams for the Bobcats. Markham also is on the BMW/ Bianchi team out of NC where she races road and cyclocross. Markham is pursuing a degree in Communication Arts and hopes to go into pharmaceutical sales after she graduates in the spring of 2009. Some things Markham enjoys doing while not cycling are painting, cuddling, hanging out, hiking, and anything outdoors. Some of her favorite foods are popcorn, rice cakes, blueberries, coffee, and anything chocolate.

Olivia (Liv) Maurey
Downhill and Dual Slalom
Senior  Psychology  Daytona Beach, Florida

Liv was born and raised in Daytona Beach, Florida and cared for by her loving parents, Dennis and Kay Maurey. She attended Spruce Creek High School and lettered in basketball, softball, track, and cross country. Maurey came to Lees-McRae looking to pursue basketball and her interest in biology. Her sophomore year she decided to try cycling and picked up another major, psychology. In cycling her main concentrations are the gravity events; however she can also be found riding cyclocross and road. Maurey is hoping to eventually go on to graduate school and pursue a doctorate in peace and reconciliation/postwar psychoanalysis and counseling as well as be able to either race her bike or play lacrosse.

Ally Stacher
Cross Country, Short Track, Downhill, Dual Slalom
Senior History Etna, California

Ally Stacher grew up in a small town called Etna in Northern California with a twin sister and three brothers. Stacher started riding bikes for transportation and also used it for cross training for competitive wrestling. Her first taste of competitive cycling was on the road, but she is now exploring cyclocross and mountain biking. Stacher's favorite times on a bike involve long rides on the road or dirt. While at Lees-McRae Stacher is pursuing a degree in history and hopes to one day become a history teacher at the high school level. When not riding she loves to be outdoors, hiking, climbing, or just hanging out with friends.

Carla Swart
Cross Country, Short Track, Downhill and Dual Slalom
Junior  Sports Management Buford, Georgia

Carla is a 20 year old student in her third year at Lees-McRae College. She is the daughter of Deon and Karen who moved to the U.S. from South Africa five years ago. Other than cycling, Carla enjoys painting, traveling and is also a member of the cross country running team at Lees-McRae College. This past May Swart won the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships Road Race and Women's Individual Omnium. Earlier this fall she added a few more accomplishments to her name when she claimed the 2008 Collegiate Track Nationals Pursuit, Match Sprint and Omnium titles. Swart is really excited about having mountain bike nationals on her home course again this year and hopes to help her team to a national title. Some of her goals include furthering her career in cycling by racing on a dominant team and representing South Africa in the Olympics someday.

Hannah Trimble
Downhill and Dual Slalom
Freshman  Wildlife Rehabilitation/Communication Arts  Spring Texas

When Hannah was twelve years old she saw mountain biking in a magazine and told her dad that it looked like a lot of fun. He bought her a $200 cruiser with no suspension and entered her into a challenging off road duathlon with trail running and twenty miles of technical single track. It was Trimble's first experience riding mountain bike trails. She finished pretty much dead with exhaustion, scratches, and a big smile. Since then she has competed in numerous off road duathlons and mountain bike races. The past two years Trimble has raced the TMBRA (Texas Mountain Bike Race Series) as a Junior X. This is her first year riding and racing gravity, and she is loving it. Biking has impacted Trimble's life greatly. The experiences, people met, and places biked have made the decision to race on that cruiser one of the most valuable decisions of her life. Trimble has four brothers and three sisters, likes to eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and enjoys painting and rock climbing.