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Cycling signs sixth recruit for 2021-22 recruiting class

BANNER ELK – The Lees-McRae College Cycling team, under head coach Tim Hall, announced the sixth member of their 2021-22 recruiting class with the signing of Lauren Lopez (Mission Viejo, Calif.) on Wednesday, Dec. 23. Lopez joins Elias Dietrich (Covington, Ga.), Corey Jackson (Basye, Va.), Heidi Martin (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Sam Morrison (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Izzy Weinberg (Malvern, Pa.) as cyclists set to join the program next fall.

Lopez, who will join the Bobcats from Capistrano Valley High School, comes to Lees-McRae as a former California state champions in cross-country cycling. In addition to being a part of both the South Orange County Composite in the SoCal League of NICA and Rouleur Devo racing teams, Lopez found success in the classroom as she maintained a 4.0 GPA.

“I really liked the Lees-McRae team when I first talked with them,” said Lopez. “The mountain bike atmosphere was something I was really looking for and I absolutely fell in love with the area.”

Lopez intends to study Biology at Lees-McRae and intends to become involved with the Skiing & Snowboarding team under head coach Aaron Mass.

Men’s Tennis picked to finish fifth in Conference Carolinas Preseason Poll

BANNER ELK – The Lees-McRae College men’s tennis team, under new head coach Gene Highfield, has been selected to finish fifth in the 2020-21 Conference Carolinas Preseason Poll, the league announced earlier this month. Seniors Matt Meluch and Jofre Tura-Campalans, as well as junior Benjamin Herman, were all recognized as being Preseason Players to Watch.

Mount Olive picked up six first-place votes and 62 points in total to earn the top spot in the poll. Barton (53) received one first-place vote for second, while Belmont Abbey (52) earned the final two first-place votes to be selected third.

Meluch, who enters his fourth season at Lees-McRae, has improved in each of his previous three seasons and will take a leadership role during the upcoming season. After finishing with an 18-7 record in singles and doubles action last year, Tura-Campalans will look have another breakout season in his senior season. Herman, who joins the Bobcats from Clemson University, looks poised to make a statement in his first year at Lees-McRae.

Patryk Garwacki, Meluch, Miodrag Popovic, Tura-Campalans and Hanqing Wang all return for the Bobcats under new head coach Gene Highfield. Landon Church and Herman both come to Banner Elk as transfers from Appalachian State University and Clemson University, respectively.

Conference Carolinas releases the 2020-21 Women’s Tennis Preseason Poll

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Conference Carolinas released its 2020-21 Women’s Tennis Preseason Poll in mid-December, with the Lees-McRae College women’s tennis team, under new head coach Gene Highfield, ranked 10th. Senior Sandy Allen, junior Zeynep Cakirer and sophomore Tessa Wells were all recognized as Preseason Players to Watch.

Mount Olive received a total of 95 points (six first-place votes) to collect the top spot in the preseason poll. Erskine received the other five first-place votes and was voted second with 82 points. Emmanuel (76) rounded out the top three in third. The preseason poll was voted on by the league’s head coaches.

Allen, who enters her fourth year in Banner Elk, looks poised to have a breakout season after amassing more than 25 combined wins in double competition in her previous three seasons. Cakirer, who tallied double-digit victories for the Bobcats during her sophomore year, and Wells, who joined the team in the second semester after competing for the women’s soccer program in the Fall 2019 semester, join Allen as three players who are looking to make a statement in 2021.

Allen, Cakirer, Mei Hiramatsu, Nursharneem Shamsuddin and Wells are return to Lees-McRae for new head coach Gene Highfield.

For more information on Lees-McRae Athletics, follow the Bobcats on Twitter (@LMCBobcats), on Facebook (Lees-McRae Athletics) and on Instagram (@leesmcraeathletics).

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