Tornados turn heads at Lees-McRae

BANNER ELK, N.C. – With the Southeast Cycling Conference Championship just two weekends away, the Brevard College Cycling team ripped through one of its final two mountain bike trials at Lees-McRae College Saturday and Sunday as many of the team’s top riders took home individual honors.

Brevard opened the weekend with cross-country racing action on Saturday. An event similar to cross-country running, in that riders ride anywhere from one hour and 15 minutes to two hours, pedaling long and brutal climbs and asked to navigate tricky descents. Brevard’s riders Sarah Hill (Bryanston, Johannesburg) and Scott McGill rode to fourth-place finishes in the men’s and women’s cross-country A race final.

“It was a thrilling race, and I was super happy with my result,” said Hill. “They added some hard single track, which made the race even more challenging and exciting. It felt like an hour sprint, with no rest and constant competition. I could not think of a better way to prepare for nationals!”

Meanwhile, Zack Staniack, who rode in the men’s cross-country B race final, took home his first career win with a clean and aggressive ride.

“I just listened to my coach’s advice and went hard off the start to gain the lead into the single track climb and then rode my own pace,” said Staniack. “I kept it smooth and crash-free on the descents.”

The Tornados completed Saturday’s events with an impressive performance by Walker Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C.), who tore through the Men’s A Dual Slalom course for a first-place ride and a large confidence boost looking towards postseason rides to come. The Hendersonville, N.C. native managed to survive the head-to-head bracket challenge. The event pairs riders in short 30 to 90 second sprints, featuring tight downhill turns and jumps.

While in the Men’s A Short Track final an event where riders race for 20-30 minutes continuously at full-throttle, while lapped riders are removed from the event until a winner is determined. True freshman Carson Beckett (Benton, Ky.) ended the event with a second-place podium performance. While, Hill who competed in the Women’s A Short Track final, showed her collegiate dominance with a third-place podium ride, as freshman Hannah Arensman (Valdese, N.C.) rode to a solid fifth-place performance.

Brevard wrapped up the weekend’s competition in Banner Elk taking first- and third-place in two team relay races. The Tornados’ winning team was comprised of Hill, Janelle Cole (Rockford, Mich.), McGill and Beckett. Shaw, Zach Valdez (Hemet, Calif.) and both Arensman sisters, Allison and Hannah, rode on the third-place team.
“It was definitely a tough afternoon after racing cross country earlier in the day,” said Shaw. “I was not feeling the best early on in the rounds but felt better and better each race. I focused on being smooth, especially in the top corners in the final, and I think it really paid off.”

The Tornados will return to race action Oct. 1-2 as they travel to Bristol, Tenn., for a showdown with King University in their final preparation competition before post-season races begin the following weekend in Mars Hill, N.C.

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