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Lees-McRae and MIT claim collegiate season titles

Carla Swart (Lees-McRae College) was a big part of her team's season win

Carla Swart (Lees-McRae College) was a big part of her team's season win (Image credit: Casey B. Gibson)

With the 2008-2009 collegiate cycling season officially in the books, USA Cycling has announced that Lees McRae College (Banner Elk, North Carolina) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts) topped the rankings of Division I and Division II schools respectively.

Lees-McRae's win in the season-long points race was its second in only three years of competing in Division I. The North Carolina school dethroned defending champ Fort Lewis College (Durango, Colorado), 76 points to 72, to reclaim the bragging rights it earned in its first year in the big leagues.

The two rivals were deadlocked halfway through the collegiate season with 37 points each after the team omniums at track and mountain bike nationals. After winning the team omnium at cyclo-cross nationals, Lees-McRae took a one-point lead heading into the final national championship contest of the season, the road national championships held in Fort Collins, Colorado. There, Lees-McRae finished second to the University of California-Davis and solidified its lead in the overall rankings with another 19 points compared to the 16 that Fort Lewis scored in Fort Collins.

In Division II, the top two spots were a repeat of the 2007-2008 rankings with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology again beating out Western Washington University (Bellingham, Washington) for the title.

At the midway point, it was Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and the Colorado School of Mines (Golden, Colorado) tied for first place, both with 29 points, while MIT and Western Washington were tied for third with 26. MIT moved into the lead, however, after a strong third place performance in the omnium at cyclo-cross nationals. The final national championship of the season saw MIT finish second to Whitman University (Walla Walla, Washington) to score 19 points for a total of 63 while Western Washington came in third for 18 and a total of 60.

The collegiate rankings begin at the start of the academic year and points are awarded to the top 20 from the team omniums in the national championships for each of the four disciplines: track, mountain bike, cyclo-cross and road.

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