USA Cycling awards two collegiate cycling scholarships

Colorado Springs, Colo. (December 13, 2007)—USA Cycling recognized two standout student-athletes on Thursday as recipients of the annual John Stenner Collegiate Cycling Scholarships were announced.
 
Whitman College student Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo.) and Jason Sears (Cambridge, Mass.) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were each granted $2,500 scholarships based on academic achievements, athletic accomplishments and service to the community with an emphasis on collegiate team involvement and leadership. The annual scholarship program is funded by donations to the USA Cycling Development Foundation.
 
Abbott, a 22-year-old senior economics major, carries a 3.70 GPA in the classroom and is arguably the most successful collegiate cyclist in history. At the 2007 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships, Abbott brought home three gold medals with an overall Division II championship, a victory in the road race and as part of the winning Whitman College team time trial squad.
 
Racing throughout the season domestically for the Webcor Builders Cycling Team and overseas as a member of USA Cycling’s Women’s National Team program, Abbott further solidified her reputation as one of the nation’s top up-and-coming competitive cyclists. Abbott began the 2007 racing season with a breakthrough performance at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California where she won the event’s signature stage atop Oak Glen, won the overall Mountains Classification and finished second in the overall General Classification. In May, Abbott won a stage and the overall classification of the Tour of the Gila before placing second at the UCI World Cup in Montreal. In July, Abbott capped off a brilliant first half of the racing season by winning three more national titles at the USA Cycling National Festival at Seven Springs. With a victory in the elite women’s road race, Abbott was crowned both elite and U23 national champion. She also captured a U23 national time trial title. 
 
In August, Abbott was named to USA Cycling’s Women’s National Team program and competed in her first European-based races. Top-ten results were common for Abbott in Europe with some of her best performances a ninth-place overall finish at the Giro della Toscana in Italy and an eighth-place overall effort at the Route de France Feminine. In September, Abbott was tabbed to represent the United States at the 2007 UCI Road World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany and is currently considered an Olympic hopeful for the 2008 Beijing Games. Also in September, Abbott was signed to a pro contract with the German-based Team High Road, formerly Team T-Mobile.
 
Abbott currently sits on the National Collegiate Cycling Association’s Board of Trustees for the purpose of creating a quality experience for fellow student-athletes with a focus on rider education.
 
The men’s recipient of the 2007 John Stenner Collegiate Cycling Scholarship, Sears is a graduate student at MIT where he is a research assistant at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center and secretary of the MIT Cycling Team. He currently carries a 4.7 GPA with a double major in electrical engineering and computer science and minor in mathematics. 
 
On the bike, Sears captured an overall national title at the 2007 USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships and finished seventh in the criterium at the collegiate road national championships. Throughout the season, Sears also claimed eight top-five finishes in various regional and collegiate events throughout the U.S.
 
As a member of the MIT Cycling Team, Sears exemplified leadership through various initiatives including the procurement of permanent training space for the team, the organization of off-season training programs, including a 10-day winter training camp, and the appointment of a team coach. Sears also led weekly team time trial practices and assembled gatherings of top MIT riders with the goal of deepening their commitment to one another.   As secretary of MIT Cycling, Sears now oversees all operating procedures and assists in the cultivation of relationships with alumni and the community. In addition to his focus on the MIT cycling program, Sears also uses his experience and expertise to assist other institutions with the start-up of new collegiate cycling programs.
 
“The contributions of both Mara and Jason to collegiate cycling throughout the 2007 academic year have been tremendous,” commented Steve McCauley, USA Cycling Director of Development. “Their success in the classroom, on the bike and in the community is unparalleled and their contributions define them as the best all-around collegiate cyclists in the U.S. this year. On behalf of USA Cycling, I’d like to thank and congratulate them for a phenomenal year.”
 
About John Stenner:
1992 Olympian and former U.S. National Team member John Stenner, one of the founding fathers of the National Collegiate Cycling Association (NCCA), spent his lifetime as a bicycle innovator and strived to elevate the quality of competition of the sport he loved. Stenner, 29, died when he was struck by a pick-up truck while traveling home from work in May, 1994, near Mead, Colo. Following his death, donations to the family poured in, the scholarship fund in his name was established, and the original donations have since been converted into an endowment. The John Stenner Collegiate Cycling Scholarship awards continue to be funded by the annual donations to the USA Cycling Development Foundation. Stenner sought the best in everything he did on or off the bike. The John Stenner Collegiate Cycling Scholarship program recognizes athletes like John who strive for perfection and excellence throughout their lifetimes and in everything they set out to achieve.
  
About USA Cycling
Recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling promotes American cycling through its 60,000 members and 2,500 annual events. USA Cycling associations include the BMX Association (BMX), National Off-Road Bicycle Association (mountain bike), U.S. Cycling Federation (road/track), the National Collegiate Cycling Association and the U.S. Professional Racing Organization (professional men’s road). For more information, visit www.usacycling.org or contact USA Cycling Director of Communications, Andy Lee at 719-866-4867.


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