Tornados third at Mountain Bike Nationals

By Joshua Cole, Brevard College Class of 2016

SNOWSHOE, W.Va. – Brevard College Cycling team began its pursuit of its first Division I national championship at USA Cycling's Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals in Snowshoe, West Virginia after a long string of successes at national championships racing in Division II over the past five years.

The team raced cross-country short track on Friday, Oct. 23 taking the starting line with 80 other athletes from over 20 schools across the nation. The Tornados achieved impressive results as a newly-minted Div. I team.

The course was very challenging with a large amount of climbing each lap. Lap times were close to two minutes, which meant racers had very little time to recover between uphill efforts and the fast descent down a two track, pothole-ridden, road.

With very few technically challenging sections the race catered toward riders able to endure the course’s physical demands rather than riders more suited to maneuvering through tight, twisty sections full of rocks and roots.

Cypress Gorry, a senior graduating in May, made the break in the front group with four other riders early in the race, and as the pace increased, and laps ticked down, riders slowly fell off the small group. Gorry ended up placing second in the short track after losing the sprint to Luke Vrouwenvelder of the University of North Carolina.

Walker Shaw, sophomore at Brevard College, ended up finishing in 17th as the next highest placed men’s rider. He made multiple pushes toward the front of the group, but the pace was already very high, and difficult to overcome.

Behind Shaw, was junior Zach Valdez, who suffered from a mechanical when his chain fell off forcing him to stop and fix it, and in the process lost valuable seconds and positions in the 25 minute race. Valdez finished in twenty-ninth, rounding out the top three men’s riders for Brevard.

On the women’s side Allison Arensman, a junior, was in the lead group with four other riders, notably Marian University's Coryn Rivera and Emma Schwartz who finished first and fourth. Arensman’s group was dropped when Rivera sprinted off the front of their group several laps before the finish of the women’s race (which was five minutes shorter than the men’s at 20 minutes). Arensman finished in fifth after making a huge effort to sprint past Schwartz.

Freshman Janelle Cole was involved in a crash at the start of the race with two other racers dashing her hopes for a top ten finish as she went from being mid-pack to last place. Cole ran her bike up the starting straight and continued on regardless of the desperate position she found herself in. By the end of the race Cole had made her way through over 30 riders to finish two positions behind Arensman in fifth.

The last scoring woman in the short track event, placing in the top three for Brevard, was Nicole Miranda who rode an incredible race into eighteenth. She spent the majority of the race picking off riders from other schools who were suffering from the short, yet intense, effort of short track.

Collegiate mountain bike nationals’ scoring system considers the top three men and women from each school and tallies their points to create a team omnium ladder. Other riders placing below the top three still serve an important role on their team as their riders serve to take up more points on the results than the top three riders of other teams.

Brevard finished day one of mountain bike nationals with 166 points putting them in third place. Marian University and Fort Lewis College finished with a one point lead at 167 points.

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