LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When David Grigsby became the head cycling coach at Lindsey Wilson College in 2008, the school started pushing the governing body, USA Cycling, to add collegiate BMX to its other four cycling disciplines. Grigsby made several trips to the Olympic Training Center for education and meetings about getting the discipline going and even asked the CEO of USA Cycling personally to support it, which he committed to do in 2009.
“With the inclusion of BMX in the 2012 Olympics it was the perfect time to wrap up the planning and get to racing,” Grigsby said. “Jeffrey Hansen, who is the new high school and collegiate director for USA Cycling, took those prompts and ran with it, getting the national championship added this year. We were very honored to be able to claim that first national championship in this discipline, something we have been working toward within the team for four years.”
Since he’s been at Lindsey Wilson, the school has produced four national champions in cycling, and earlier this month they captured the program’s third national title at the inaugural USA Cycling BMX National Championship, held in Chula Vista, California. And cyclist Danny Caluag captured the 19th individual national champion in school history with his win in the collegiate race. He is the 11th cyclist to claim a national championship in Lindsey Wilson history.
The Blue Raiders were dominant amassing 188 team points to beat second place Grand Canyon University and San Diego State University who finished tied for second with 83 team points.
In the men’s race, Lindsey Wilson placed four riders in the top five led by Caluag’s first place finish. Logan Collins finished second while Jarrod Adcock and Chase Hines ended in fourth and fifth respectively.
The Lindsey Wilson women matched the men’s performances with four in the top five as well. Finishing second through fifth for the Blue Raiders were Madison Pitts, Stephanie Caluag, Brittany Bates and Crystal Kalogris.
The collegiate race was one of the over 40 amateur BMX national titles handed out over the weekend in southern California.
The event was held on the new BMX Supercross track — built as a replica of the track at this summer’s Olympics in London, England — on the campus of the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The 430 meter (women) / 470 meter (men) track is expected to be fully operational by mid-April, according to USA Cycling.
The national title is the first for the cycling program since capturing back-to-back cyclocross national titles in 2000 and 2001. Danny Caluag is the second Blue Raider to don the Stars and Stripes jersey, reserved for national champions, this cycling season. Kalogris captured the women’s dual slalom in November.
“Our school was the true pioneer of the sport,” Grigsby said. “We compete at the Division 1 level, not the smaller and less competitive D-2 level reserved for most smaller schools. We feel we never wanted an asterisk by anything we ever earned and so our college chose years ago to take the harder road and upgrade to Division 1 by choice, which is something any cycling college can choose to do. This means we always race against the biggest and best colleges in collegiate cycling like Fort Lewis, Cal Davis, Vermont, and even Michigan, I.U., Ohio State and so forth. It’s the highest level of collegiate cycling in the country.”
Grigsby was born and raised London and graduated from Laurel County in 1984. He graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 1990, and is the former owner of The Bike Shop. He lived in London for 40 years.
“Our newly crowned national champion, Danny Caluag of California, is on track to make the Olympics in BMX and we hope to see him in London in August racing for a medal for his home country, The Philippines.”
The program, unlike most colleges, is a full varsity program, and the athletes don’t have to pay expenses. The college covers all entry fees, hotels, food and travel to the collegiate races. And nobody rides the bench, as there are categories in collegiate racing from beginnings all the way to current pros.
“Don’t think you have to be a pro, and don’t think that if you are a pro, you won’t have any competition,” Grigsby said.
And the team is trained like any other varsity program.
“When we train our riders we have very different approaches for each discipline,” Grigsby said. “Road racers work with many hours in the saddle, up to 16 a week on the bike, to build the huge endurance engines required for Tour De France style racing. But when it comes to BMX, it’s all about the explosion off the line and handling your bike in a 38 second sprint of your life. So we spend a lot of time in the gym with bigger weights as a wrestling team or football team would, and an equal amount of time on the BMX track doing explosive sprints and jumps. It’s like the 100 meter dash on a bicycle.”
But it’s not all about bicycles and national championships.
“Make no mistake, Lindsey Wilson College is a college first,” Grigsby said. “If you want a top-shelf private college education, and to be able to pursue your passion on the bike at the same time, you have found the right fit in your college search.”