Sparks signs six for upcoming season

Sparks signs six for upcoming season

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Following a pair of USA Cycling national championships a season ago, King University cycling head coach Alan Sparks has added six cyclists that have their sights on the Tornado repeating in 2016-17.

Fausto Crapiz
East Tennessee State University
Jefferson County High School
Jefferson City, Tennessee
Mountain Bike and Road

Crapiz will compete for the Tornado in both the mountain bike and road seasons. He started racing when he was 13 years old and currently races in category 2 during the road season. Last year, his first year of collegiate racing when he was at ETSU he had a stellar season, winning several individual time trial events in the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference. When he is not racing, Crapiz enjoyed volunteering at the Jefferson Rural Clinic and local food pantry when he was at home.

"This guy is fast and works hard, we are blessed to have him at King," Sparks said.

Eric Hubbs
Sullivan East High School
Bristol, Tennessee
Mountain Bike, Cyclocross and Road

Hubbs brings experience in all three disciplines and brings depth to the Tornado for the upcoming season. While in high school, he competed for the cross country team and has been racing bikes for several years.

"Eric will surprise a few people this fall," stated Sparks. "He's strong and hasn't come close to his potential. Big things ahead!"

Luke Stephens
Jasper, Georgia
Georgia High School Mount Bike League NICA
Mountain Bike

Stephens adds even more depth to the defending mountain bike national champion Tornado. He started riding when he three years old and was introduced to mountain biking when he was away one summer at camp. Stephens competed in the Georgia High School Mountain Bike League NICA for the North Georgia Youth Cycling team where he finished sixth a season ago.

"Luke will fill a gap in the team we have needed for two seasons," said Sparks. "I expect him to standout this fall."

Abigail Hobbs
North Oconee High School
Athens, Georgia
Mountain Bike

Hobbs too will give the Tornado more depth during the mountain bike season, giving King a strong presence in women's gravity. She started racing motocross when she was five and quickly progressed to the professional level before she faced some injuries in 2013. The following year she grabbed her first mountain bike and has been very successful riding them. With her background in motocross, the transition to gravity racing on the mountain bike was seamless.

"Abby will be a very strong rider as a freshman." said Sparks.

Matthew Owen
Rosman High School
Rosman, North Carolina
Mountain Bike, Cyclocross and Road

While at Rosman High School, Owen competed in wrestling and track and field while also competing in cycling. During the mountain bike season, Owen will help led the defending national champion Tornado as he is a strong gravity rider. Owen will also be an asset to the national champion cyclocross team and add depth to the road team in the spring.

"Matthew has a strong work ethic and it will show at King." Sparks said.

Nolan Tankersley
East Tennessee State University
Unicoi County High School
Erwin, Tennessee

Tankersly joins the Tornado after competing for ETSU a season ago. He hails from Northeast Tennessee and started racing bikes in high school and progressed to the professional ranks very quickly. Tankersly recently joined the Lupus Professional Rod Race team, joining list of highly distinguished teammates. A season ago he won the overall youngest rider in the USA CRITS Championship Series that competes all over the country with America's top professional road racers. He raced for Finish Strong professional cycling team that is based out of Greenville, South Carolina.

"Nolan is an exceptional young man and has a selfless attitude that will benefit not only our team but the whole school," stated Sparks.