A pair of newcomers to the Kansas University cycling team earned some hardware for the program at the North Central Collegiate Cycling Conference mountain bike championships in Red Wing, Minnesota in early October.
En route to dethroning Minnesota, the four-time defending conference champs, for the team title, Shad Shreiner won the men's championship while Gill Armstrong claimed the women's conference crown.
"After traveling that far, it's kind of fun to win," Shreiner said. "We really weren't able to compete a ton this year with a bunch of teams cancelling their races, but it's a pretty cool deal to come up with the championship."
The Kansas championships went to the wayside, however, as the post-race celebrations were interupted by something a little more serious.
"There was actually a Kansas State rider that had to go out in an ambulance after the race, so everyone was kind of more caught up with that," Shreiner said. "We just kind of grabbed our awards and took off afterwards. But everyone was pretty pumped up about the wins."
Powered by Shreiner, a graduate student at KU Med Center, Kansas almost came away with a sweep of the top four men's spots. John Waller was able to fend off Kansas State's Mark Smelser, a McLouth native, to finish second in points while John Giles and Josh Patterson finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Jayhawks also relied on a first-place finish by Andrew McKee in the downhill race, with his teammate Chris Robl finishing right behind him.
Armstrong, who transferred from Kansas State, combined with Kelsey Miller to finish one-two in the women's race.
With cycling technically a club sport at KU, the team had to rely on its ability to raise money to make the trip to the conference championship.
"It takes a lot of work to get sponsors, especially to get enough funds to go places to compete," Armstrong said. "It ends up being pretty expensive to travel to farther places like Minnesota, which is usually where we have to go for races."
Then there's the whole thing of being a student as well as an athlete.
"It's quite a bit of work, because we're in class a ton, so pretty much the only other thing I do is train and then race on the weekends," Shreiner said. "Then I just study every other spare minute. It's kind of my lifestyle."