SAU Cycling Showcases Summer Successes and Promotes Diversity Initiatives in HBCU Cycling
September 12, 2023 – Raleigh, NC: SAU Cycling coaches and athletes had a busy summer. In early June, Coach/Team Manager Finote Weldemariam and volunteer coach Ronald Kurney represented SAU at one of the country’s premier gravel bike race events, Unbound Gravel, in Emporia, Kanas. Weldemariam finished 110th, and Kurney finished 132nd out of 1232 total competitors in the 103-mile event. Each placed in the top 10% of his respective category.
In August, Weldemariam again represented SAU and all of HBCU cycling at SBT GRVL in Steamboat Springs, CO, conquering the 142-mile off-road cycling event that included 10,246 feet of climbing.
Also in August, volunteer coach Brandon Valentine-Parris parked his bike and laced up his running shoes to compete in the Sir Walter Running Downhill Mile event that drew elite runners throughout the region. Valentine-Parris ran a blazing fast 4:13.7 mile in his first competitive attempt at the distance, winning the 20-29 age group and placing 4th overall.
In September, Weldemariam completed his summer season racing in the first-ever USAC (USA Cycling) Gravel National Championship in Gering, Nebraska. Nearly 500 competitors raced 131.1 miles over 5,715 feet of climbing. Weldemariam finished an impressive 7th place finish in his age group.
In addition to its racing accomplishments, the SAU team has been busy advancing the cause of HBCU cycling and increasing diversity in cycling through various initiatives. Efforts are underway with USAC and various corporate partners to create an HBCU-specific cycling league, intending to add five new HBCU teams in each of the next five years.
The SAU collegiate team will begin competition later this semester, including in select USAC events and the local BHB cyclocross series. SAU will host two weekends of racing in October (10/14, 10/15) and November (11/11, 11/2) as part of the BHB series.
About SAU Club Sports:
The Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) club sports program is managed by the School of Business, Management, & Technology (SBMT) Sports Management program. SAU club sports include cycling (the first HBCU team in the country), BMX, rowing (the first HBCU ladies’ team in the country), Ultimate (the first HBCU team in the country), SIM golf, and SIM motorsports. Sports in development include flag football, pickleball, paddling, VR tennis, 3v3 basketball, and adventure racing. The program is designed to support the SBMT curriculum and introduce sports not typically part of the HBCU experience. For more information, visit www.sauclubsports.com.