Brevard, N.C. - Fresh off Conference Championships, the Tornados return to a familiar place this weekend as they head to the 2010 Fall Mountain Bike National Championships, held at the Northstar at Tahoe Resort, near Truckee, Calif.
The University of Nevada is hosting the Championships this season, with the Cross Country events taking place on Friday, October 15th, the Short Track and Four Cross events on Saturday, and the Downhill Finals on Sunday.
The Tornados won the overall team title last year in Brevard’s fourth year of existence. Jo Tuttle led the way, capturing the coveted women’s Omnium title, while strong performances all around contributed to Brevard’s first team national championship since BC became a four year institution.
"It’s tough going out and trying to defend a national championship," commented Coach Thad Walker. "Right now, we’re just trying to get everyone to focus on their individual performances and the team results will come together."
This season, eight Tornados men’s riders and three Tornados women’s riders will attempt to defend the title against tough competition, as Union (Ky.), Warren Wilson, Colorado School of Mines and Montana State all return tough squad who will all be gunning for Brevard. Union (Ky.) and Warren Wilson are familiar names to the Tornados as Brevard has faced off against the Bulldogs and the Owls multiple times this season in conference competition, with Union capturing the Conference Championship title heading into Nationals.
Tristan Cowie, Matt St. Marie, Scott Hoffner, Kody Adams, Lewis Gaffney, Park Baker, Tripp Bagnal and James Chaput will all compete for the Tornados on the men’s side. Cowie, a 2008 national champion in the Cross Country and the Short Track events, has added to his repertoire and will be competing for the Overall Omnium title, competing in all four events over the weekend in his last collegiate mountain bike race. Chaput, a senior on the squad, is also expected to do well this weekend having finished up the fall season strong and will be competing in his first national championship event.
On the women’s side, although the Tornados lost Tuttle and Julia Tellman, they return a talented trio to Truckee as Alexis Decosimo, Kate Weisenfluh and Morgan Sykes will take on the field for the Tornados. Decosimo and Sykes have been steadily improving throughout the year in the Short Track, Cross Country and Dual Slalom events, while Weisenfluh comes into nationals as the Southeastern Conference Downhill Champion in her first year of racing at the collegiate level.
Challenges for the Tornados, apart from the competitors will also be the conditions of the course, as Brevard will be facing different terrain and soil on the West Coast, which can affect the strategy and positioning of the gravity riders. The altitude effect will play a part in the Cross Country races as the riders will spend the majority of the race over 5,000 feet above sea level.
The cycling team dealt with injuries early in the season, but with everyone back and healthy, the Tornados are prepared and ready to go defend the title and bring it back to Brevard.