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Cumberland cycling ranked seventh in Division I
Feb 21, 2013 3:30 pm
Cumberland’s cycling team is ranked seventh nationally in the USA Collegiate Division I rankings after three national championship events.
The team has finished eighth in track, No. 12 in mountain bike and ninth in cyclocross at this academic year’s national events.
The Bulldogs rank seventh among 51 teams nationally, 39 points behind Colorado State and five points ahead of perennial power Lindsey Wilson. The team raised eyebrows at track nationals by placing third in the men’s team pursuit, beating out powerhouse programs such as Fort Lewis and Lees-McRae.
“Moving to the Division I level is proving to be a good move for us,” said eighth-year coach Tim Hall. “We have had to fight hard for every individual result and team placing at nationals. It has been as difficult as we expected, but we have held our own against the best in the country.”
The team competed at the Division II level for its first eight years of existence, but USA Cycling granted the program’s request to move to Division I for the current season. Collegiate programs are designated either Division I or II based upon enrollment, with schools over 15,000 automatically Division I. However, Division II schools can request to compete at the Division I level.
“My goal has always been to compete at the highest level of collegiate cycling. We lack the depth of those schools ranked ahead of us, but the small roster we have is made up of riders who are very talented and highly competitive,” said Hall. “We are where I hoped we would be at this point, but it will take a lot of hard work and some overachieving to maintain a Top 10 position. BMX is still a wide-open opportunity for most schools to earn points, and road is the most competitive discipline from a team perspective.”
Cumberland is accustomed to standing on the podium at nationals, but has found it tougher to crack the Top 5 this season at nationals in Division I. In 2011-12 Cumberland finished ranked second overall in Division II behind conference foe Mars Hill, and in 2010-11 the team finished the year No. 4 in the country.
“The next obstacle for us is to start cracking the Top 5 in an individual event at nationals and then to place multiple riders in the Top 10 or Top 20 for both male and female. The quality of racing is equal in both divisions, but the main difference is the depth of competition is deeper in Division I,” said Hall.
There are two more championship events remaining – BMX in March in Phoenix and road in May in Ogden, Utah. Kyrstin Bluhm is the only rider to qualify for the BMX event and the full squad of 10 riders will compete in Ogden in May.
“Based upon our roster and that of our competition, it’s possible for us to end up sixth at best or ninth at worst, hopefully.” Hall said. “We must remain healthy and give it our all. The team and I both are super motivated to work hard to improve.”