For the second consecutive year, the Brevard College cycling team ends its season with a runner-up finish at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals.
The Tornados wrapped up the weekend with a fourth-place performance by the quartet of Janelle Cole, Allison Arensman, Sarah Hill, and Nicole Mirandain the team time trial event on a 12.4-mile course that ran parallel to the French Broad River. Brevard won the women’s criterium on Saturday and placed second in the women’s road race on Friday. The Tornados compiled the second-highest team score of the 39 Division II teams competing.
Milligan College won the event with a team score of 474, besting the Tornados by 64 points. Colorado Mesa was third, while Mars Hill and Furman gave the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference four of the top five teams in the event.
“It’s pretty fantastic to come here to a national championship event that’s essentially a home race for us and to see the way the team raced,” said head coach Brad Perley. “There’s certainly no individual here right now that has anything left in the gas tank. They left it all out there. And that’s certainly a victory in my book.”
The highlight of the weekend came on Saturday, when Cole made a last-lap pass on the grueling, hilly criterium course through downtown Asheville to inch ahead of Milligan’s Lauretta Hanson on the final uphill sprint for a dramatic victory and her first individual national championship. Allison Arensman sprinted past Furman’s Danielle Clark moments later to give Brevard two top-five finishers.
“It worked out to set Janelle up for that break,” Arensman commented on Sunday. “I definitely could have played tactics a lot better than I did…but setting Janelle up for that break and getting to hear that she’d won, I couldn’t have been happier.”
“In an uphill match sprint like that,” Cole added, “I’ve been able to come out ahead of [Milligan’s Lauretta Hansen] before. So I thought, ‘You know what, I just want to come across this line completely dead, and the only way that’s going to happen is to come from the bottom. That’s my best shot’… It was amazing. There’s really no other way to put it.”
Cole finished second in the individual omnium, which compiles scores from all events during the weekend to determine the top individual rider. Arensman finished close behind in fourth place.
While Cole and Arensman stole Saturday’s headlines, the gutsiest performance of the weekend belonged to Nick Jowsey. Competing on tired legs after a professional race last weekend, Jowsey earned the fourth position in the men’s individual omnium after finishing second in Friday’s 73.5-mile road race and overcoming a broken shifter cable and last-lap flat tire to place ninth in Saturday’s criterium. He also teamed with Zach Valdez and Wyatt Briggs in Sunday’s team time trial.
“I’m particularly proud of the guys in the team time trial today,” Jowsey said. “Every other team had four guys and we only had three, and we still set an extremely competitive time just through real guts and determination. We’ve got a lot of tough riders with a strong work ethic.”
Brevard finishes the road portion of its schedule in second place after winning the mountain bike and cyclocross national championships earlier in the season. The Tornados have now won two national titles in each of the last three seasons and have eight total championships dating back to its 2009 mountain bike title.