BRISTOL, Tenn. – A season ago, the King University cycling team took home their first Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (SECCC) championship in the short history of the program. The Tornado are eager and ready to begin their defense of the title against the 37 other teams in the SECCC.
In 2013, King was strong all season in all three classes en route to the title as they outscored all the other teams in the SECCC. The conference season culminated with a solid performance at the SECCC Championships where three women's riders placed in the top-15 of the road race. After taking their first title, the Tornado then capped the season with an eighth place finish at College Road Nationals in Ogden, Utah. King had a few riders get caught up in wrecks, but still came in with an eighth place finish among 45 teams.
Head coach Dan Kreiss returns a solid group, including three senior that will lead the Tornado in 2014. One of those seniors is Julian Cabra who had a solid ride at College Road Nationals for the Tornado as he finished 11th in the criterium. He also turned in a stellar performance at the SECCC Championships, taking home a 10th place finish in the criterium. Alex Jensen looks to pick up where he left off in 2013, placing 11th in the criterium at the SECCC Championships before taking 17th at College Road Nationals. In the omnium standings at nationals, the junior took home a 20th place finish.
Other returners for the Tornado include fellow senior T.J. Killelea and Zach Maness. Killelea finished 20th in the road race the SECCC Championships while Maness took sixth in the men's category B criterium. This season Maness will move into to the A category.
Derek Hurst and Megan Rogers also come back for 2014. Hurst had a great run at the SECCC Championships, taking third in the men's category B time trial and has been facing some injuries this season while Rogers finished 27th in the omnium at College Road Nationals. Reid Yoder also comes back for the Tornado in category C and the senior looks to lead the C group that will include Quenton Lyons who will compete in his first cycling season. Lyons has been a member of the King swimming and diving team.
Newcomers Drew Bailey and Kaysee Armstrong started their careers with strong mountain and cyclo-cross seasons. Bailey took fourth at nationals in the cyclo-cross season while Armstrong finished second and mountain nationals. Jennifer Caicedo and Even Ferrell will round out the 2014 squad for the Tornado. Caicedo is a seven-time word speed skating champion while Ferrell ran for the cross country team.
King opens the 2014 road season on Saturday and Sunday when they travel to the University of Florida. The Tornado will race near Bristol on April 5-6 when Milligan College hosts a race. The SECCC Championships are the following weekend on April 12-13 in Orlando, Fla., as the University of Central Florida plays host.