Fort Lewis & App. State take home American collegiate titles

Division 1 Team Podium

Division 1 Team Podium (Image credit: Went Knipe)

Fort Lewis College narrowly surpassed host Lees-McRae College to win the Division I team omnium competition at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships last weekend. Even fewer points separated Division II champions Appalachian State University and second-place Colorado School of Mines. The top individual scorers in both endurance and gravity events were also awarded individual omnium crowns following a weekend of competition hosted by Lees-McRae College in North Carolina.

Fort Lewis College used a strong showing by its women in the final contest of the competition, the dual slalom, to leapfrog host Lees-McRae College and take home the Division I team overall championship by 20 points, 698 - 678. The University of Colorado-Boulder was within striking distance, but had to settle for third while Lindsey Wilson College and the University of Vermont rounded out the top five.

"We had a lot of great individual performances with some tragedies and some victories we didn't expect," said Lees-McRae head coach Brian Sheedy.

"I am very proud of the whole team. Not only was our overall performance better than we've ever had in the past against perhaps the strongest team Fort Lewis has ever had, but the team rooted, cheered and supported each other throughout the entire three-day event. Although the weather could have been better, it was workable. In fact, especially with the talented and skilled riders competing, the mud added some excitement to the short track races."

The Division II team race was even closer with nearby Appalachian State University edging last year's champion, the Colorado School of Mines, 585 - 575. Evenly dispersed talent was on display with the top five schools finishing within 100 points.

The individual omnium crowns were awarded to the top racers who competed in both an endurance and gravity event. Eli Krahenbuhl of the University of Wyoming took home the men's individual omnium crown in Division I with finishes in all four of the weekend's races. His 272 points narrowly edged Scott Stewart of Lees-McRae.

Winning a pair of national titles on the weekend and finishing in the top five of three of the four events, Carla Swart (Lees-McRae College) racked up 494 points only to narrowly defeat a talented Division I women's field, which included Eszter Horanyi (University of Colorado-Boulder), Sage Wilderman (Fort Lewis College) and Jamie Dinkins (University of Tennessee-Chattanooga).

In Division II Zach Winn of Union College earned a commanding win in the men's omnium title after several national title near misses.

The Division II women's race was the closest of the day with officials forced to exercise five tie-breakers before Johanna Tuttle (Brevard College) was awarded the title over Rebecca Tomaszewski (Appalachian State University).

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the USA Cycling Collegiate MTB National Championships.

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