Banner Elk, N.C. - In their final tune-up for the 2011 Mountain Bike National Championships, the Tornados took on the field at the SECCC Mountain Bike Conference Championships held by Lees-McRae College this past weekend. Kate Weisenfluh continued her domination of the Downhill event as she sets her sights on the individual National Championship next weekend.
The two day event took place at the site of the 2007 and 2008 Mountain Bike National course, and started with the Cross Country Event on Saturday morning.
Lewis Gaffney, a native of Angel Fire, N.M., the site of the 2011 Mountain Bike National Championships, led the Tornados on the course in the men’s A group, assaulting the gravel climb and various descents on the campus of Lees-McRae to finish fourth overall, crossing the line with a time of 1:54:11. Keith Marek and Kody Adams both finished in the top 25 in the event as well, crossing the line 21st and 23rd overall, while Scott Hoffner was unable to complete the track. Kody Hughes led Brevard in the men’s B group, finishing in the top five, while Brandon Milet crossed the line in 1:56:02 to place 16th. Kyle Stallings took on the field in the men’s C grouping, placing fourth overall to close out the event.
Morgan Sykes led the Tornados on the women’s side of the Cross Country event, placing eighth overall, while Madison Capps took 13th overall for Coach Brian Sheedy.
The afternoon’s Dual Slalom course featured a revamped rhythm section and finish feature as the Tornados placed three in the top 10 in the men’s A group led by Trey Cassell and Tripp Bagnal finishing sixth and seventh respectively. Asher Blackmore placed 10th overall in the event, while Mac Banner also was in the top 15, crossing the line in 30.95 to take 13th.Willis Kallay and Adams were in the top 25 in the rankings with Kallay placing 17th, while Adams crossed the line 25th overall. Hughes continued his impressive showing in the men’s B group, taking the individual title, while Duncan Miller placed seventh overall for Brevard. Stallings rounded out the men’s riders on the afternoon, taking 12th overall for the Tornados.
Weisenfluh impressed in her first race of the weekend, taking second overall in the women’s A event, crossing the line with a time of 36.79, while Capps and Sykes were in the top 15 with Capps crossing the line 10th overall while Sykes placed 12th in the event.
Sunday morning brought on the Short Track event featuring a tight, single track climb and descent and added one creek crossing in the race, but Gaffney powered through to place fourth overall and on the podium in the men’s A group while Hoffner bounced back to take ninth overall. Adams and Marek also took on the field, taking 25th and 29th overall for the Tornados. Milet placed in the top 10 in the men’s B group as the lone rider in the field for Brevard.
Sykes and Capps both finished in the top 15 in the women’s A group. Sykes took ninth overall, while Capps placed 15th. Liza Fortenberry took on the field in the women’s B group for her first action of the weekend, taking seventh overall for the Tornados.
The final event of the weekend, the Downhill event, took place on part of the Cross Country course with technical add-on sections and the Tornados had their strongest finish of the weekend with four riders placing in the top 10 of the men’s A group, while Weisenfluh recorded the victory in the women’s A group.
Blackmore led the Tornados on the men’s side, finishing on the podium in fourth place overall, while Bagnal, Banner and Kalley finished seventh, eighth and ninth respectively. Cassell finished just outside the top 10, crossing the line 12th overall, while Adams recorded the top 25 finish, crossing the line in 2:29 to place 22nd. Miller and Stallings continued their stalwart riding on the weekend, with Miller taking the individual title in the men’s B group, while Stallings placed sixth overall to cap the weekend for the Tornados.
Weisenfluh out-distanced the field in the women’s A group, crossing the line in 2:30 to record the victory. The win sets her up as the favorite in the 2011 Collegiate Mountain Bike Downhill event, a race she placed second in last season.
The Tornados head to the road next weekend as they begin the defense of their 2009 and 2010 Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championship titles. The Championships will be held in Angel Fire, N.M. and will begin on Friday, October 28th with the Cross Country event.