USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals, held last weekend in Banner Elk, North Carolina, turned into a battle between Colorado and North Carolina schools in both the Division I and Division II categories.
Fort Lewis College used wins in the men's cross country and downhill and the women's downhill to help them take the overall Division I team omnium title over host Lees-McRae College in second and University of Colorado-Boulder in third. In Division II, the Colorado School of Mines used a balanced attack to edge North Carolina's Warren Wilson College for the Division II all-around team award.
In addition to awarding individual champions in the cross country, dual slalom, and downhill disciplines, USA Cycling awards omnium champions for both team and individuals. The omnium awards are what make collegiate cycling like no other, using points from each men's and women's event to tally an overall team winner.
"We brought a very, very solid team and things went well for us," said Fort Lewis College Coach Rick Crawford. "This is really what it all comes down to. There are a lot of teams getting into the mix these days and that's good to see. We hope for collegiate cycling to become the development program for the pros."
The individual omnium awards help showcase some of the country's best young all-around talent. Past collegiate winners who've gone onto international success include Alison Dunlap (now retired) and Willow Koerber (still racing internationally for Subaru / Gary Fisher).
Fort Lewis College used the top three individual performances in the men's Division I omnium to help grab the team overall. Cross country and short track winner Benjamin Sonntag came out on top of his two team-mates, Rick Wetherald and Adam Snyder for the win. Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona) edged Eszter Horanyi (University of Colorado-Boulder) after they exchanged victories in the cross country and short track races.
Winning both the cross country and short track races handily, Colorado College's Colin Cares earned the DII men's omnium award and Kylie Krauss of Warren Wilson College won the DII women's omnium, also putting on an impressive display
In all, 22 national champions were crowned, but the true spirit of collegiate cycling was shown through the more than 300 dedicated cyclists and students who came to race for school and individual pride.
For full coverage of USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals, click here.