Second-year cycling teams sprint to quick starts in spring
March 10, 2017 | Chapel Hill, N.C.
With better experience and depth on both sides, Liberty University's second-year men's and women's cycling teams opened their spring racing seasons with strong showings at Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference (ACCC) road and criterium events in Raleigh and Durham, N.C.
"We have a lot of overlap between the cycling and triathlon team this season," said Flames Head Coach Parker Spencer, who coaches both. "Last year, we finished third in our conference and this year, we've started out even stronger and the main reason is we have a lot more women's riders."
The Lady Flames have five female riders competing this spring compared to one last year, Marie Sonnery-Cottet, who competed at USA Cycling Nationals along with men's cyclist Jake King, who finished fourth.
"We actually have one of the larger women's teams in our conference now," Spencer said. "The guys will be in races with 80 people whereas the girls' race has only 10 people in it, so if we have five girls in there, they're gaining a lot of points for us as a team."
At the Feb. 18-19 Wolfpack Classic, Lady Flames senior Megan Merryman finished runner-up in the Women's Collegiate C road race, followed by teammates Mattasyn Shisler (eighth) and junior Francesca Herder (ninth).
Merryman was also runner-up in the Women's Collegiate C criterium, trailed by a tight pack of teammates Madeline Griffin (seventh), Herder (ninth), and Shisler (10th).
In the Men's Collegiate A road race, sophomore Gabe Morgan placed 12th in the while seniors David Fouse and Christian Schick placed seventh and 12th, respectively, and sophomore Khoi Tran took 23rd in the B race.
In the C division, freshman Thomas Sonnery-Cottet placed 12th followed closely by teammates Tyler Figgins (13th), freshman Sam Blackmon (16th), junior Travis Fehr (17th), and Joel Brenny (18th), while senior James Long placed eighth in the D race.
Sonnery-Cottet placed fifth in the Men's Collegiate C criterium, followed by Figgins (sixth), Blackmon (10th), Brenny (20th), and Fehr (24th). Schick finished sixth in the B criterium, followed by Fouse (17th), and Tran (22nd).
Spencer, cross-training for upcoming triathlons, raced in the Men's Category 4/5 road race and finished 14th.
The Flames and Lady Flames traveled to the Feb. 26 Chatham County Road Race in Pittsboro, N.C., where Merryman finished first and Herder, Shannon Wade, and Sarah Parker placed eighth, ninth, and 10th, respectively, in the women's Collegiate C division. Morgan placed 11th in the men's Collegiate A race, Fouse finished ninth in the B class, and Blackmon (ninth), Fehr (12th), Figgins (20th), and Brenny (24th) competed in the C division.
Morgan placed ninth in the Men's Collegiate Category A criterium at the Feb. 27 Bull City Grand Prix in Durham, N.C., while Schick took seventh in the B criterium followed by Tran (14th) and Fouse (15th), and Brenny finished 16th In the C criterium. In the women's Category C criterium, Shisler placed fifth followed by Parker (sixth), Wade (eighth), and Herder (ninth).
Liberty's riders will train to maintain their momentum over spring break before heading into back-to-back weekend races in Maryland — the March 25-26 Polling House Road Race in Annapolis and April 1-2 Route One Rampage in Hyattsville and Hostetter-Wagner Spring Classic in Baltimore.