By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor
The Furman cycling team has been racking up awards increasingly over the last few seasons, and with the addition of a new coach and a class of decorated riders, the team looks to sustain that trend this year.
It will be hard to outdo its performance last year, especially for the men’s team. At the Division II National Championship in Asheville, N.C. last May, the men won the road race, time trial and criterium sections, becoming the first collegiate team to do so in USA Cycling history.
As far as newcomers go, freshman Cooper Willsey is poised to be the new face of Furman’s cyclocross domination. Willsey claimed the Division II Men’s National Cyclocross Title by a margin of more than two minutes in January. The team also placed second in the overall omnium, a combined standings for both individual and team relay performances, at the event.
Also in her first season, sophomore transfer Julia Fresne has also picked up speed quickly this year, winning the criterium in her first event of the year, the Swamp Classic in Micanopy, Fla., as well as placing third in the road race portion.
Brendan Rhim won a national championship of his own with the Furman cycling program last summer in Asheville. After pulling away from the pack at the halfway point, Rhim went on to claim a 25-second victory in road race portion of the Division II Collegiate National Championships.
Not only are the riders fast, but many are also leaders in the classroom. Nolan McQueen, Brian Suto and Richard Rainville were named to the 2015 USA Cycling Academic All-Star Class, which recognizes riders with a 3.5 GPA or higher in seasons during which they compete for USA Cycling National Championship events.
Without former coach Rusty Miller this year, the Furman cycling team is led by its student president, junior Danielle Clark, who finished tenth in the Women’s Individual Omnium last year.
College cycling does not work through the NCAA system like most varsity sports, but instead competes via USA Cycling, the national governing body for bicycle racing. After the Cyclocross Championships in January, Furman is ranked sixth in Division II, but has many more races ahead of it to move up the leaderboard.