Tornados look to continue 2016 success

BREVARD, N.C. – Fresh off its first USA Cycling Division I Mountain Bike National Championship, the Brevard College Tornados cycling team looks to the upcoming USA Collegiate Cyclocross season as another opportunity to prove they belong at the Division I level.

Head coach Brad Perley said after the team's success at mountain bike nationals this year, students took a couple of weeks of much-needed rest, where they could take advantage of staying home and switching gears before cyclocross season.

Our collegiate cross calendar will be short and sweet, as we hit some key race weekends across the southeast, but we will also attend a handful of larger non-collegiate events in preparation for nationals, which will be at the beginning of January in Hartford, Connecticut.”

A typical collegiate season is broken down into three racing disciplines, beginning with mountain biking in the fall, cyclocross in the winter and road racing in the spring. Cyclocross racing occurs on a short course (6-10 minutes per lap) over varying terrain. A typical course could includ, pavement, gravel, sand, wooded trails, and grass fields. The discipline is known for being held in treacherous weather conditions and the courses are tight and spectator-friendly. Each race is normally between 45-60 minutes in length, where riders are often required to dismount and run with their bikes over obstacles and barriers, similar to steeplechase in track.

The Tornados ride into this winter’s racing with an experienced roster on both the men’s and women’s side. Men’s riders Walker Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C.) Trever Kingsbury (Petoskey, Mich.), Zach Valdez (Hemet, Calif.) and Ray Dangelmaier (Brighton, Mich.) return back to the cross course looking to make an impact. Valdez and Dangelmaier will close their prosperous Cyclocross careers as the duo was part of the 2013 and 2014 Cyclocross Division II National Championship teams, while Shaw and Kingsbury rode to glory on the 2014 title team.

On the women’s side, the Tornados welcome back a two-time National Cyclocross Champion Allison Arensman (Valdese, N.C.), along with talented riders Janelle Cole (Rockford, Mich.) and Samantha Miranda (Valley City, Ohio). However, the 2016-17 Cyclocross team will be without longtime Brevard College great Sarah Hill (Bryanston, Johannesburg), as the senior is set to graduate in December and return home overseas.

"Cyclocross season is shaping up to be one of Brevard's best to date," said Allison Arensman. "Coming off of our win at Mountain Bike Nationals we have a lot of confidence as we approach this season: confidence in the strength of our team and the incredible leadership we have from the coaches...and confidence in our ability to dig deep and rise high in the D1 competition at CX nationals. Cyclocross in Connecticut will be my last national championships with the team and I am excited and determined to help make it another mile-stone in the history of BC Cycling."

“We are fortunate to have a great roster of student-athletes that are willing to complete at the highest level year-round,” said Perley. “Since our '“off season”' between mountain bike and cyclocross is roughly two weeks, our athletes must keep their motivation high regardless of the time of year. Taking home the title in the mountain bike discipline was the result of a massive amount of work on their part. While it’s now an entirely new season of competition with plenty of new battles, we are carrying the mountain bike energy and momentum onwards into nationals in January. We won’t be marked as the favorite to win in Hartford, but I’m very confident in our ability to surprise.”

Coach Perley welcomes to this year's cross team Hannah Arensman (Valdese, N.C.), Scott McGill and Carson Beckett (Benton, Ky.), three highly talented freshman riders that could make an immediate impact in the coming season. Despite being true freshman, Hannah Arensman and McGill bring years of experience racing cyclocross to the course this winter. The freshman mountain bike phenom Beckett, will be forced to adapt quickly as he takes on his first collegiate cyclocross season.

“Cyclocross season has always been my favorite discipline in cycling,” said Hannah Arensman. “The pinnacle of the season, for me, is cross Nationals because they have some of the coolest courses. This year in particular I am really psyched for Nationals because I will be doing the collegiate races as well as my individual event. It is going to be really exciting to see what the Brevard cycling team can do there and in the races leading up to it. I think it will be an awesome week of racing in Connecticut and cannot wait to see the course there!”

“Our freshman had an immediate impact on our mountain bike season across the disciplines and they were a huge part of our success at nationals,” said Perley. “Scott and Hannah come in with a very high level of experience on the national cross racing circuit, and we know Carson will adapt quickly as well. We are looking forward to jumping head first into the new season.”

The Tornados will open the 2016-17 cyclocross season, Nov. 13 when they travel to Atlanta, Ga., for a meeting with Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta before racing at Furman University on Nov. 19. Hendersonville, N.C., hosts conference championships on Dec. 10. Brevard will then close out the cyclocross season in Hartford, Conn. Jan. 3-8 for Collegiate Cyclocross National Championships.

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