Brevard, N.C. - Over 15 schools were represented at the 2009 Southeastern Conference Cycling Championships hosted by Brevard College and head coach Thad Walker.
The first day of the Championships, Saturday, saw the teams take part in the Team Time Trial and the Road Race, which started at Rosman High School. The final event happened on Sunday morning as the cyclists took part in the Criterium, which was held in downtown Brevard.
The Team Time Trial was the first event of the weekend as four-man teams from each school rode along a 15.52 mile loop that started at Rosman High School and followed a track featuring a short but steep climb and a trip along the river valley before heading back up to Rosman. The first team started the course at 9 a.m. with the other teams following suit afterward in two minute increments.
Coming into the race, several of the teams to look out for included Cumberland, Lees-McRae, Clemson, and Brevard and the favorites did not disappoint. The University of Florida took top honors in the event, finishing with 33:09, seven seconds ahead of second place Furman at 33:16. The Tornados finished sixth in the event with a time of 37:54, 22 seconds behind the University of Georgia, and ahead of Lees-McRae College.
In the afternoon individual Road Race, the cyclists again took off from Rosman High School, this time broken up into brackets A, B and C, depending on skill level. The course for the Road Race slightly longer than the time trial course as the riders rode around a 15.67 mile loop following the French Broad River featuring a pair of climbs before turning back to Rosman.
Riders in the men’s A category had to make the loop four times, with the Men’s B group traversing the course three times, and the Men’s C only twice. On the women’s side, the Women’s A Category went around the loop three times, with the Women’s B covering the course once.
Robert Sweeting (Florida) finished first overall in the men’s A category, finishing with a time of 2:39:57 for his four laps, recording the top speed on the course at 24.425 mph on his second lap. Sondre Thorbergsen (Lees-McRae) finished second, 0.681 seconds behind Sweeting with a time of 2:39:58.
Tristan Cowie had the top finish for the Tornados in the A category, finishing 24th, with a time of 2:47:17, with teammate Marshal Hartley finishing 24 seconds behind. Matt St. Marie and Matt Wells rounded out the top group for Brevard in 27th and 47th, respectively.
Stephen Leotis (Ga. Tech) took the top spot in the Men’s B category in a photo-finish with Jeremy Chambers (Cumberland). Leotis finished with a time of 2:06:22.434, while Chambers was two-thousandths of a second behind. Chambers recorded the top speed in the group, clocking in at 22.983 mph.
Tim Reinhart was the lone BC rider in the B category, finishing at 2:28:21, 21 minutes behind the leaders, clocking a top speed of 20.74 mph
In the women’s A category, Ally Stacher (Lees-McRae) held off Jamie Dinkins (UT-Chattanooga) by 7.56 seconds to take the checkered flag, finishing with a time of 2:11:49. Stacher also held the top speed in the group at 21.636 mph on the second lap.
For Brevard, Julia Tellman finished sixth in the category with a time of 2:32:20, 20 seconds behind the leaders, recording the fifth-best speed in the group, being clocked at 19.425 mph on her first lap.
In the men’s C category, Lee Meroney (UNC Asheville) scorched the field, finishing four minutes ahead of runner-up Park Baker (Brevard), with a time of 1:27:05, at 22.056 mph.
Baker led the Brevard team with his second place finish, with a time of 1:31:29. Tyler Crotts finished in the top 10 as well with an eighth place finish with a time of 1:34:38. James Chaput and Ryan Forsyth were also in the top 20 with 16th and 17th place finishes respectively.
Women’s B category, a pair of Tornados stormed through the field as Jami Perry held off Jo Tuttle in by seven hundredths of a second to record the win. Perry and Tuttle were both topped out at 18.884 mph, but Perry snuck her way through with the win, finishing with a time of 49:57.437. The pair blew away the field, as their closest competitor, Kim O’Brien (Florida) finished over five minutes back with a time of 55:35.
The final event of the SECCC, the Criterium, took place on Sunday morning, with the riders traveling around the three-quarter mile course marked off in the residential and business district right off of Main St. in downtown Brevard.
Sweeting rode well in the men’s A category in the Criterium as well, finishing first again to go with his Road Race victory. Cowie and St. Marie gave the Tornados a pair of top 10 finishers in the event, placing eighth and ninth respectively as both racers finished 35 laps around the course in an hour; the equivalence of 26 miles.
Jake Lewis (Lees-McRae) finished ahead of the field in the men’s B category with 23 laps in 43:19, more than 12 seconds ahead of James Mitchell (Furman). Reinhart was again the lone Tornado rider in the category, finishing in 23rd with 18 laps.
Tellman improved on her sixth place finish in the Road Race to finish third in the women’s A Criterium. Carla Stewart (Lees-McRae) finished with top honors with 22 laps in 44:32, three seconds ahead of Dinkins and five seconds ahead of Tellman.
Drew Cistola (UNC Asheville) took the win in the men’s C category, finishing fifty-three thousandths of a second ahead of Austin Starnes after 16 laps. Crotts finished in the top 10 for the Tornados with a ninth place finish, 2 minutes behind Cistola and Forsythe was in 12th after completing 14 laps.
Brevard was on top again in the women’s C category as Perry and Tuttle traded places with Tuttle coming out with the win in the race, finishing 10 laps in 22:15.288, three-tenths of a second faster than Perry. Alicia Provenzano (Florida) came in third, a minute behind the pair of Tornados.
With the SECCC done, the Brevard cycling team now sets their eyes toward the National Championships, which will be held on May 13-19 in Fort Collins, Colo.
Road Race Results