Cumberland University cycling team © Cumberland University

Cumberland University, located 30 miles east of Nashville, Tennessee, is a small school with a liberal arts background. The student body may only consist of about 1,300 people – including grad students – but Cumberland has managed to recruit some strong cyclists, with a refreshing focus on “student athletes.” We look forward to seeing Cumberland’s Bulldogs out on the Southeast’s ‘cross courses, and perhaps on the steps of the Div II Collegiate podium in Bend.

Lebanon, Tenn. – The Cumberland University cycling team has signed four student-athletes to scholarship papers for the 2010-11 academic year, as announced this week by head coach Tim Hall. The program will also begin competing in two other disciplines in the next school year – track and cyclocross.

Cumberland has plans to compete in all four disciplines within collegiate cycling by adding track and cyclocross to the program for 2010-11. Until now the Bulldogs have competed only in mountain biking and road racing. The addition of the track and cyclocross disciplines gives CU an opportunity to be ranked higher nationally and attract a more complete rider to the ever-emerging program.

“This is a big step for our program and a necessary one in order to meet the needs of the athletes we want to recruit,” head coach Tim Hall said. “We should likely qualify to compete in the National Championships for both of the new disciplines, which increases our ability to earn national team ranking points in Division II.

“These additions will be seen as a huge improvement in the eyes of Juniors we are recruiting or those who are considering Cumberland University. Because we will begin competing in track and cyclocross, I believe we will become a more attractive program for both male and female athletes. Today’s Junior cyclists are starting to focus on two-to-three disciplines instead of just one, which means we must adapt to what’s going on around us.”

Cumberland will compete in mountain bikes, track and cyclocross in the fall semester while competing only on the road in the spring.

Hall has signed Nashville native and Ensworth High School’s Aubrey Moore as well as Cookeville, Tennessee’s Alex Parks to scholarship papers. The Bulldogs will also add a pair of New Yorkers – Matthew Meunier, a junior college transfer, and Syracuse’s Ben Salibra.

Moore is a Category 2 road racer on the Hincapie Development Team, while Parks is a Category 2 road racer on the Moontoast-TriStar Team. Meunier is currently living in Nashville and a Category 3 road racer on the Team, and Salibra, a Fayetteville-Manlius High School product, is a Category 2 racer on the CRCA Junior Development Team.

“All four riders will be able to step in and make an immediate impact on our Men A team,” Hall said. “I have known Aubrey and Alex both for several years now and watched them develop into national caliber Junior racers. It’s also exciting to have local talent choose our program and decide to stay close to home.

“Mathew has made huge improvements over the past year and by the time he competes in college will have another 35-40 races in his legs. With more experience he is sure to gain more strength and racing instincts. Ben is well known among the Junior ranks around the country and is a multiple-discipline rider with road and cyclocross ability,” Hall said.

“Adding these four riders alone to our current Men A team will provide the necessary depth to race more effectively in every event. This past season, a lot of stress was placed on Ryan Sullivan and Alejandro Padilla to cover attacks and be in every breakaway, but these new recruits will be able to accept that responsibility now.

“We expect to sign another four to eight riders within the next couple of months to solidify our roster. We are also working hard to find two to four female riders in order to earn the maximum team points possible. Without women it will continue to hamstring our ability to win the overall conference or national team championship.”

Sullivan and Padilla finish the road bike season this weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships.