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Cycling team wins second national title in three months

cycliststeam_t.jpgBOONE – In less than three months, Appalachian State University’s cycling team has captured its second national title by winning the Division II USA Cycling Collegiate Cyclocross National Championships Dec. 14 in Kansas City, Mo.  The Mountaineers won the division’s national championship in mountain bike in late October, as well as two individual national champion titles in women’s cross country and men’s downhill.

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Appalachian State University’s cycling team celebrates its win of the USA Cycling Collegiate Cyclocross Division II National Championships Dec. 14 in Kansas City, Mo.
Alex Hannah.jpgStudent Alex Hannah of the Appalachian State University cycling team races in Division II of the USA Cycling Collegiate Cyclocross National Championships Dec. 14 in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo by Michael Trivette)Ariel Leath.jpgStudent Ariel Leath led the Appalachian State University women’s cycling team with a sixth-place finish in the women’s race at the USA Cycling Collegiate Cyclocross National Championships Dec. 14 in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo by Michael Trivette)

The team won the cyclocross championship by having the highest number of combined points by the men’s and women’s competition. They beat second-place U.S. Military Academy and third-place Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

First-year graduate student Noah Niwinski led the men with an eighth-place finish in the men’s race, while junior Ariel Leath led the women with a sixth-place finish in the women’s race.  Appalachian placed four men in the top 20 and five women in the top 10.  In all, 14 Mountaineers received championship jerseys and medals: Niwinski, Leath, Ryan Fawley, Michael Koballa, Alex Hannah, Jacob Florence, Daniel Wendover, Jamie Godfrey, Matt Grainger, Amanda Gilbert, Rachel Vandenende, Allison Forkner, Aenon Moose and Rachel Warriner.

First-year volunteer head coach Doug Owen led the team.  Prior to joining Appalachian, Owen coached at Lees-McRae College where he led the Bobcats to six national championships.  Owen was assisted by team advisors Beth Frye, an assistant professor in the Department of Language, Reading and Exceptionalities, Eric Marland, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and Michael Trivette, a member of Appalachian’s admissions staff and an adjunct faculty member.

The Mountaineers will now prepare for the road competition that begins in February.  Brandon Mckeever, Alex Hannah and Noah Niwinski will lead the men, while Amanda Gilbert and Ariel Leath will lead the women’s team.  Appalachian will compete in its usual schedule of conference races in the Atlantic Coast Cycling Conference.  Following the regular season, Appalachian will send a group of riders to the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships May 8-10 in Fort Collins, Colo. The team hopes to win three major national championships in the same season, something no team has ever accomplished.

The 2008 season has been Appalachian’s most successful to date. In addition to the national titles, the team claimed both the mountain bike and cyclocross conference championships in the Atlantic Coast Cycling Conference.

Cycling is one of 20 club sports at the university, half of which compete at the national or regional level. Students participating in club sports receive no scholarship support for their participation.  Most teams they compete against in national competitions do receive scholarship support as well as equipment support as student-athletes at their college or university.

For more information about Appalachian’s cycling team, visit www.appstatecycling.com and www.appstatecycling.blogspot.com.  Anyone interested in potential sponsorship of the cycling team should contact team president Daniel Wendover at appstatecycling@gmail.com.

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