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May 17, 2013

Cycling, not soccer, leads Chaney to Union College

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Tanner Chaney had to miss his entire senior season playing soccer for the South Laurel Cardinals when he torn his ACL and his meniscus in the first game of the season.

While rehabbing his knee, he had a chance to contemplate his future. He had some offers to play soccer in college, but when it came time to sign, he surprised many not with his choice of college, which was Union, but his sport.

Cycling.

“I have been riding my entire life, but I got out of it when I decided to play soccer,” Chaney said. “A couple of years ago I got back into it. I never thought I would get to go to college through cycling. I thought it would be for soccer.”

While cycling isn’t offered as a sport at South Laurel, word of Chaney’s ability on two wheels got back to Union College coach Peter Haile.

“The cycling community  in southeastern Kentucky is tight,” Haile said. “I had heard about Tanner, and he agreed to meet me. I really wanted him on our team.”

Union College competes in the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, where the Bulldogs came in second in the conference championship last season. That qualified them to compete in the NCCA Division II Nationals, a title they won in 2011. This time, the Bulldogs came in second, while senior Wesley Lamberson won the Men’s Division II Individual Omnium title.

Competitors ride mountain bikes and compete in four disciplines: downhill, dual slalom, cross country and short track. Haile said that Chaney will compete in all four.

“Tanner will compete in all disciplines, including cyclocross, which is like steeplechase for bikes,” Haile said. “He has a strong athletic body, but he will need to work on his aerobic fitness.”

“There’s always room for improvement,” Chaney said. “I will need to work on my overall conditioning and skills training. I can always do things to make me ride better.”

Chaney also likes to go all out when he’s riding and is pretty fearless.

“It’s not fun unless you get hurt a little,” Chaney said.

sports@sentinel-echo.com

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