Collegiate Cross Country National Champions Crowned

The men's DI cross country gets the competition started on a five-mile course on the Lees-McRae campus.
Photo courtesy Went Knipe

Banner Elk, N.C. (October 24, 2008) - The cross country competition kicked off the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships on Friday as nearly 200 collegians raced through the campus of Lees-McRae College for the second year in a row. The first day of competition set the stage for an old-fashioned shootout between host Lees-McRae College and last year's overall team winner Fort Lewis College in Division I, while riders from nearby Brevard College and Appalachian State earned the Division II men's and women's crowns respectively.

Despite a strong challenge from Lees-McRae's Scott Stewart (Banner Elk, N.C.), Division I favorite and defending champion Ben Sonntag (Durango, Colo.) of Fort Lewis College was able to overtake Stewart on the final lap and repeat his victory from a year ago. Lees-McRae's Brad Perley (Banner Elk, N.C.) was able to grab third in the DI men's race after another favorite, Rotem Ishay (Fort Lewis College) dropped his chain at the gun, leaving him playing catch-up throughout the nearly 25-mile contest. The University of Oregon's Justin Finn (Corvallis, Ore) rounded out the podium as the only non-Lees-McRae or Fort Lewis rider in the top five.

"It was harder than last year," said Fort Lewis' Sontag. "Lees-McRae controlled the race from the start with a rider right in front and behind me. I would make up some on the inclines, but I'd lose that on the downhill. My broken right index finger really affected my control on the descents. It was a good fight; Stewart ran a great race."

Ben Sontag crosses the line victorious in the men's DI race.
Photo courtesy Went Knipe

Jamie Dinkins came in second in the DI women's contest after a hard-fought battle with
Lees-McRae's Carla Swart.
Photo courtesy Went Knipe

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