by Grace Hatton, Reverb editor
photos by Wyatt Pace, Photo Editor
Over the weekend of Oct 25-27 the Warren Wilson Mountain Biking Team fought their way to a 4th place finish during the 2013 Collegiate National Mountain Bike Championships.
According to the report recently sent out by the athletic department- the Mountain Biking Team set off to compete in the 2013 National Championships, despite warnings of snow in the forecast and the promise of tough competition from around the country. The 2013 Collegiate National Mountain Bike Championships were held at Beech Mountain. Located at 5600 feet, Beech Mountain is the highest town east of the Rockies. The Wilson team arrived at Beech several days prior to Nationals in order to move into their trailside home and to start dialing in the tricky courses. The competition began on the Friday morning of the weekend with a test of speed, the Short Track.
Riders completed lap after lap on a short circuit around the base lodge of Beech Mountain, battling both the pain of the race and the frigid 25 degree temperatures. During the Short Track, Junior Allison Jones was in contention for the podium until a late race crash derailed her chances. However she rallied and passed two riders on the last lap to finish 9th.
As the races continued, all four Warren Wilson women qualified for the finals, while both Mike Flynn and Elias Grant made the main event for the men.
On Saturday morning the men raced early on still frozen trails. Sophomore Robin Crandall handled the ice, occasional mud, and competition and had his best race of the year. Thanks to a massive last lap effort, Robin went from 18th the 13th by the finish to lead the Wilson men while in the women’s race, Allison again posted a top 10 finish, with senior Lilly Hacker and junior Tesa Anderson not far behind.
In Saturday afternoon’s downhill Mike Flynn laid down his best individual performance of the weekend and rolled across in 21st for the men.
On Sunday Robin, Allison, Lilly, and Mike got ready for the team relay. The relay was a first time event and saw each of the four riders complete a three minute lap. Two laps had to be completed by men, and two by women. Robin led off with a great lap for the Owls, and put the team in contention for a podium. Allison, battling through pain from a wrist injury, kept it close and Lilly kept Mike within striking distance of the podium. Several teams sent their second man out on the third lap, which gave Mike an advantage going into the fourth and final lap. Mike put in a massive effort up the course’s big climb and rode Warren Wilson onto the podium in 4th.
Finally in the dual slalom Wilson riders gave it everything they had left. Mike, Robin, and Rob Leeson all qualified for the finals, as did Allison, Lilly, and Tesa. In her final collegiate race, Lilly led the team with an 11th place finish, with Allison right behind.
In the end, their results on Sunday were enough to secure their 4th place overall in the team standings for the Cycling Owls.
“It was a well-earned podium, and the team’s 11th straight podium finish at Nationals,” says head coach Matt Williams “It was a great way to wrap up a phenomenal weekend of racing for the Warren Wilson Team. Many thanks to our mechanic Aaron Peet and to all the family, friends, and sponsors who came out to cheer on the racers.”