Gran Fondo National Championship Awarded to Asheville for 2019 and 2020

(Asheville, NC - May 29, 2019) - Gran Fondo National Series (GFNS) announced today that the annual Gran Fondo Asheville cycling event has been selected as the site for the Gran Fondo National Championship event for 2019 and 2020. Working with the Buncombe County Regional Sports Commission and supporting Asheville on Bikes and Eblen Charities, this national level amateur cycling event will bring more than 500 amateur cyclists, plus their families and supporters, to the city of Asheville on the weekend of July 21, 2019.

 A gran fondo is a unique type of cycling event that features timed segment racing. Riders of all ages and abilities start together, and overall and age-group winners are determined by the fastest combined times through designated timing sections. The Gran Fondo National Series is the largest and most competitive series of gran fondo events in the United States, with 10 events nationwide and 3,000 annual participants. 

“We are proud to award the Gran Fondo National Championship to the city of Asheville for the next two years,” said GFNS founder and event director, Reuben Kline. “The city and sporting commission have been tremendously supportive of Gran Fondo Asheville over the past six years, riders love the roads and mountains in this area, and the community is vibrant and welcoming.”

The decision to move the GFNS National Championship event to Asheville comes on the heels of a successful Haute Route Asheville event, of which Kline was also Event Director. Haute Route (pronounced “oat root”) is an international cycling event company that owns GFNS and produces multi-day cycling competitions around the world, including in France, Italy, Norway, Oman, Mexico, and China. Haute Route Asheville brought an international field of around 300 amateur cyclists to Asheville May 17-19 for a 3-day competition.

“The Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission is excited to elevate our partnership with the Gran Fondo National Series by bringing The GFNS National Championship to Asheville,” said Demp Bradford, President of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission. “Hosting top caliber cycling events like Haute Route Asheville and GFNS National Championship bring great exposure to what is already a thriving area for cycling. Cyclists and their families bring significant economic benefit to our city and county and the timed-segment format minimalizes the interruptions to our local residents and visitors.”

Former U.S. Representative and NFL quarterback Heath Shuler encouraged the move, citing the organizers’ commitment to the region and the economic benefits of cycling for Asheville. “Cycling is good for Asheville and Buncombe County,” said Heath. “More than a dozen cycling-related companies have offices or manufacturing facilities here, in part because of the same roads, trails, and community that attracts high-level national and international cycling competitions.” 

Proceeds from Gran Fondo Asheville support Asheville on Bikes, a local non-profit that advocates for better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure; and Eblen Charities, which supports families in the Asheville area with food, housing, medical heating and utilities, medication, and all manner of emergency assistance.

 Gran Fondo Asheville starts at 8:00am at Wicked Weed Brewery at (147 Coxe Avenue in Asheville) on Sunday, July 21. Riders can choose to ride 100, 60, or 30 miles, and all three routes return to the brewery for a finish line festival. Only the 100-mile riders compete for the National Championship. 

 About Gran Fondo National Series

Founded in 2013 by event director Reuben Kline, the 10-event Gran Fondo National Series is the largest and most competitive series of gran fondo cycling events in the United States, and the only event series to crown a Gran Fondo National Champion. Acquired in 2017 by the parent company of Haute Route, GFNS events are part of OC Sports’ international portfolio of cycling, running, ultrarunning, and sailing events. Visit

LGBTQ-focused Stonewall Sports expands to Asheville

Stonewall Sports, an LGBTQ and Ally community-based nonprofit sports organization, on Wednesday afternoon announced Asheville as the latest city to join the league. The sports group was founded in Washington, D.C., in 2010 to raise funds for local nonprofits through inclusive, low-cost organized sports. Since then, it has expanded into seventeen cities including Asheville, five in North Carolina alone. The Asheville interim leadership team will host a free community meet and greet at Banks Ave. Bar (32 Banks Avenue in downtown Asheville) on Wednesday, May 22 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. to learn about the league, meet people, and play bar games.

“As someone who has played soccer most of my life, I believe everyone should be able to feel comfortable being themselves in organized sports,” said Karla Furnari, City Commissioner of Stonewall Sports Asheville. “This is a recreational league for all types of athletes, so we hope to quickly build a network of teammates, volunteers, sponsors, and friends. Stonewall Sports is truly driven by the community, so we want to listen to as many voices as possible as the league takes shape before our first sport rolls out in the summer.”

Stonewall Sports Asheville plans to start with a kickball league for the simplicity, nostalgia, and socialization that make it a challenging team sport and provide a fun social experience. To keep the experience affordable and accessible, registration fees will be in the $25-$35 range – substantially lower than other sports clubs in the area. Other expenses will be offset by community sponsorship, also designed for a range of budgets to ensure participation from small businesses and larger corporations alike. Other cities have also added bowling, corn hole, flag football, and volleyball leagues, among other sports.

The Asheville area has been noted by national organizations for its friendly and inclusive nature and is home to one of the most dynamic and visible LGBTQAI+ communities in the South. Stonewall Sports Asheville organizers note that while the city is not lacking in welcoming arts and cultural options, there is a void when it comes to ongoing recreational activities for the LGBTQ community and allies to gather around while interacting socially.

The philanthropic focus of the league is just as important as wellness and social components, notes Furnari. “We’ve chosen Blue Ridge Pride as our local charitable partner because of the years of trust the organization has established in the region. The organization’s vision of an inclusive community where people are embraced for who they are and feel welcomed to engage and contribute aligns very closely with Stonewall Sports Asheville’s vision.”

MountainXpress - Press Release from Stonewall Sports

Prestigious Haute Route bike race returns to Asheville with riders from around the world

ASHEVILLE — The Western North Carolina version of the Tour de France — albeit a mini tour — will speed across the mountains May 17-19.

The Haute Route, a three-day stage race, which offers the world’s most prestigious multiday events for amateur cyclists, is returning to WNC after its Asheville debut last year, with some 300 cyclists from around the world, a 50 percent increase in participation from 2018.

The course features some of the sweetest cycling routes, starting and ending downtown at Pack Square on May 17 and 18, traversing the sinister twists and steepness of Town Mountain Road, the scenic grounds of the Biltmore Estate, Elk Mountain Scenic Highway and even a stint on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Even though last year’s race was plagued by heavy rains, the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission reported that the 2018 Haute Route Asheville generated nearly $1 million in local economic impact, including more than 1,100 room nights in local hotels and more than $64,000 in tax revenue.

Sports Commission president Demp Bradford said it’s not just the dollars, but the international exposure that’s good for Asheville, cementing the region as a tour de force as a cycling destination.

“Even with the extreme rains, I think the event was successful because everyone had a good time, the comments were good, and everyone was able to complete it safely,” Bradford said.

"One of the flattering things is some of the Europeans compared Asheville and the terrain favorably to the European rides they were used to,” he said.

The Haute Route began in the mountains of Switzerland and France using the Pyrenees, Alps, Dolomites and infamous climbs like the Alp’ d’Huez for race courses.

There are now Haute Route events in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America, and only two in the United States — Asheville and San Francisco.

So far, there are riders signed up from 32 states and six foreign countries: Great Britain, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Switzerland.

The first day will circumnavigate Mount Mitchell with nearly 11,000 feet of elevation gain over a 103-mile course. It will include Elk Mountain Scenic Highway and travel the parkway from N.C. 80 to Town Mountain Road. A shorter, “compact” Day 1 will have 55 miles of riding with 6,034 feet of elevation change.

Day 2 climbs nearly 9,000 feet over 97.5 miles, winding through the gardens of the Biltmore Estate before heading west toward Canton, through Haywood and Madison counties, returning along the French Broad River. The compact course is 57 miles with 3,616 feet of climbing.

Day 3, a Sunday, is a 5.6-mile time trial up Town Mountain Road, with a gain of 1,209 feet and an expected crowd of spectators yelling and clanging cowbells.

The winners, including women, who typically comprise 10-20% of the race field, will have posted the best times over all three days and segments.

Last year’s male winner was Corey Davis, of Greenville, South Carolina, who also won last year’s 100-mile Assault on Mount Mitchell, which is May 20 this year. The female winner was Danielle Baker of Durham.

“Asheville has a storied cycling history, including hosting major cycling races, being home to several champions, and developing into a renowned training hub for road cyclists and mountain bikers,” said Jim Rutberg of Haute Route North America.

“Asheville is a vibrant and welcoming city … the breweries, restaurants, galleries, and nearby attractions give athletes and their families a lot of options during their three-day stay.”

Learn more

The Haute Route Asheville is May 17-19. No roads will be closed to vehicles during the races. For more on the Haute Route, visit

by Karen Chávez, Asheville Citizen Times

'We owe him a debt of gratitude': Roberson community honors life of Riley Howell

WLOS - SKYLAND - The voice of Rob Wilcher broke as he spoke over the PA before the start of T.C. Roberson's final regular season soccer game against rival Reynolds. 

"The Roberson community has been touched by tragedy today," he said. "Riley Howell lost his life, saving others."

It had been less than 24 hours since Howell died in a April 30 campus shooting at UNC Charlotte, attempting to disarm the gunman — and in the process, saving lives. 
Wilcher, like many others in the stands, was still coming to terms with the reality of the news.

Howell and 19-year-old Ellis Parlier of Midland were killed when a shooter opened fire in a classroom building at the UNCC campus. Four others were injured, three of whom were critically wounded.

Campus police disarmed and apprehended the suspect, later identified by police as 22-year-old Trystan Andrew Terrell, a former student, in the room where a handgun was used to carry out the shooting.

"He will be missed and remembered as an individual, who, in the moment of greatest peril, sacrificed for the lives of others," said Wilcher, who had been Howell's varsity soccer coach before he graduated in 2016. "He lived his life in service of others and his light was extinguished way too soon. We join countless communities who have experienced the same violence in mourning one of our sons, one of our brothers, one of our students, one of our players, one of our own."

Rams and Rockets players linked arms at midfield and bowed their heads as Wilcher spoke and in a moment of silence. Tears were shed on both sides. It was a loss felt across rivalry lines.

Roberson coach Josh Martin wiped his eyes as he looked at the American flag being flown at half-mast.

Martin said earlier in the day he had spent the morning "crying his eyes out." He had coached Howell when he played JV soccer for the Rams. 

"You can’t really put into words what a good human being he was," Martin said. "There aren’t words to describe how we’re all feeling. This is tragic."

'That's what a hero does'

Rich Larson, who has announced Roberson soccer games for the past 30 years, has fond memories of watching Howell play. 

"He was a nice kid. A good player," Larson said. "He gave up his life for someone else. That's what a hero does."

Howell has been heralded as a hero across the nation. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney said his actions "saved lives."

GoFundMe account to help with Howell's funeral expenses, started this afternoon, has already raised over $4,000.

Wilcher said he wished that he could tell Howell how proud he had made his family, but also how desperately they wished they could have him back.

"I wish I could thank him for saving countless lives," Wilcher said. "We owe him a debt of gratitude for the sacrifice that he has made. We are all proud and better people for knowing him."

David Thompson and Jennifer Bowman, Asheville Citizen Times

Haute Route cycling event returns to Asheville May 17-19

Mountain Xpress - The Haute Route, which offers the world’s most prestigious multi-day events for amateur cyclists, is returning to Asheville May 17-19. Last year was Asheville’s first time hosting an Haute Route event; organizers confirm the number of registered riders has increased by more than 50% compared to 2018.

As one of only two American cities to host an event, Asheville will count itself among rarefied company in the cycling world. The Haute Route selects its host sites based on their significance to world cycling heritage. Host sites, such as the Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux in France, cover some of the most famed and cherished landscapes in all of cycling. Haute Route courses trace the paths of the sport’s most legendary riders, and the famed grounds where they trained and competed.

According to Jim Rutberg of Haute Route North America, Asheville was a natural choice for the acclaimed event. “Asheville has a storied cycling history, including hosting major cycling races, being home to several champions, and developing into a renowned training hub for road cyclists and mountain bikers,” he says. “In addition to the area’s cycling bona fides, Asheville is a vibrant and welcoming city, and we are happy to have support from the community and the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission.”

Based on Sports Commission reports, the 2018 Haute Route Asheville generated nearly $1 million dollars in economic impact for the Asheville area, including more than 1,100 room nights in local hotels and more than $64,000 in tax revenue.

The 2019 course features a number of sites famous both in- and outside of the world of cycling. Starting and ending downtown at Pack Square on Friday and Saturday, the course traverses Town Mountain Road, the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, and Elk Mountain Scenic Highway, among others. Haute Route even secured a rare permit to hold a portion of the event on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In addition to world-class cycling terrain and history, Asheville also offers a unique and vibrant downtown scene to visiting participants — who come from at least 30 states and 7 countries. “The riding is only part of what makes Asheville appealing to Haute Route riders,” says Rutberg. “The breweries, restaurants, galleries, and nearby attractions give athletes and their families a lot of options during their 3-day stay.” He says many returning riders are bringing family and friends with them to turn the 3-day event into a vacation.

Stage One of the Haute Route kicks off Friday, May 17 at Pack Square.

To learn more about Haute Route, visit or email Dan Arnett at

UNCA doubles team seeded for NCAA Tennis Championships

WLOS — ORLANDO, Fla. – A historic season for Oli Nolan and Henry Patten will continue at the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Doubles Championship.

The national championship-winning doubles duo are seeded fourth at the championship that will be conducted May 20-25 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., after the conclusion of the team championship, which runs from May 16- 19. UCF and the Greater Orlando Sports Commission will serve as hosts.

All matches shall be the best-of-three sets. No-ad scoring and a seven-point tiebreaker (first to seven points, must win by two points) at six-games-all will be used for all matches. In doubles, a 10- point match tiebreaker will be played in lieu of a third set.

Automatic qualification into the Division I doubles championship is awarded to any conference with one or more eligible doubles teams ranked in the ITA Top 60 for eligible/entered doubles teams.

The No. 4 national seed at the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Doubles Championship marks the first national seed in the history of Big South men's tennis. The Bulldog duo are just the second doubles pairing in the history of the league to earn a spot in the NCAA Doubles Championship according to conference records.

Nolan and Patten are currently ranked second nationally in the latest Oracle Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings. The duo was ranked No. 1 nationally for three consecutive polls early in the spring semester.

The duo was undefeated during the 2018-19 regular season. The doubles pairing went undefeated playing together during the fall and won three titles including the national championship victory at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex.

Nolan and Patten were a perfect 7-0 this spring en route to earning first-team all-league accolades. Patten was named the Big South Men's Tennis Player of the Year for the third straight year, while also being named the All-Academic Team for the third consecutive year. Nolan was also named to the All-Big South team in singles as well as doubles.

Patten will be participating in the NCAA Championships for the second straight year.

Patten last year became just the second player in Big South history to advance to the second round of the NCAA Men's Tennis Singles Championship with a thrilling 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Alex Lebedev of Notre Dame on May 23.

The win was the first win for the UNC Asheville men's tennis program in the NCAA Men's Tennis Singles Championship.

As a team, UNC Asheville men's tennis finished the 2019 spring campaign with an impressive 20-5 overall record. The Bulldogs were a perfect 10-0 in matches played at home at the Asheville Racquet Club Downtown. UNC Asheville's 20 wins this past season was a program record.

by Stan Pamfilis

More than 30 Asheville runners to compete in prestigious Boston Marathon April 15

Karen Chávez, Asheville Citizen Times

Asheville will be well-represented at the 123rd Boston Marathon, which takes flight the morning of April 15 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

Arguably the world’s most coveted marathon, it is certainly one of the oldest and the most infamous, for its troubled – and not-so-distant - past of barring women from running, to its strict eligibility requirements to the deadly finish line bombing in 2013 that claimed three lives and seriously injured hundreds of others.

But Boston remains Boston Strong, as the catch phrase that emerged in the aftermath of the bombings and runners and humans from across the globe rallied to raise money for the victims, find the killers, and continue the ultimate legacy in the running world.

And Asheville has always had a close connection with Boston.

More than 30 runners from Asheville and Western North Carolina have signed up to run Boston this year. Below is a list of those registered – many having signed up a year in advance. So, some may not be running due to anything from illness and injury to change of heart, but this is the most up-to-date list, according to the Boston Athletic Association, which produces the marathon.

They are among the more than 30,000 runners who will be competing in the 26.2-mile race from Hopkinton to Boston. Just getting your name on this elite list is a feat and an accomplishment worth celebrating.

The Boston Marathon is one of the only such event in the world that requires a time qualification in a certified marathon, based on age and gender. So it’s not just like signing up – you’ve got to prove you’re among the fastest marathon runners in your age group just to qualify, and then you have to beat the buzzer by registering before all the other qualifiers.

For marathon runners, making it to Boston is often a life’s goal and the pinnacle of a running career, whether amateur or elite. The field boasts Olympic runners, including last year’s winner Des Linden, celebrities and crossover athletes, such as NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson, who is running this year.

Here are the kinds of times you can expect: Last year’s female winner, Des Linden, crossed the line in 2 hours, 39 minutes, 54 seconds. (Consider the average female marathon runner finishes in 4 hours, 30 minutes.)

The male winner was Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi, in 2:15:58.

And then there are the gritty, determined, everyday runners from Asheville who hold down full-time jobs, are mothers and fathers, endure setbacks such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and even broken toes and other bones, and put in hundreds of miles training throughout every kind of weather during the winter months to get to the start line.

Like Uta Brandstatter, 47, an Asheville nurse who is also in grad school, and formerly ran the Facebook group Let's Run Asheville, and Stephanie Wallace, 40, of Asheville, who is a mom of two little girls, works at Habitat for Humanity, and has endured training setbacks due to injuries.

But Wallace made it to Boston Friday night and reported: “The energy here is amazing. Despite dealing with injury these past few months, I feel light and confident that the community will carry me. A Boston finish is in my future!”

The hordes of runners, as well as the millions of spectators, will have to endure another year of cold, rainy Boston weather, as the forecast is calling for.

But when you’re Boston Strong, what’s a little rain?                

Congratulations and good luck to everyone running and cheering and holding down the fort in Boston!

Want to follow your favorite runner? Track them at

WNC runners registered to run the Boston Marathon:


1. Short, Katherine;24;F;Asheville             

2. Murphy, Kyle;36;M;Asheville      

3. Voorhees, Marc;64;M;Asheville  

4. Marshall, Susan;46;F;Asheville                          

5. Burkhalter, Todd;45;M;Asheville                            

6. Chen, Peiweng;38;M;Asheville                          

7. Knechtel, Daniel;45;M;Asheville                            

8. Wallace, Stephanie;40;F;Asheville                            

9. Crane, Nicole;51;F;Asheville                          

10. Bernard, Adele;25;F;Asheville                          

11. Stern, Colette;42;F;Asheville                          

12. Kuhne, Jody;49;M;Asheville                          

13. Deholl, Devi;27;M;Asheville                          

14. Rollins, Elizabeth;38;F;Asheville                            

15. Cooper, Meg;36;F;Asheville                          

16. Johnson, Tracey;52;F;Asheville                          

17. Brandstatter, Uta;47;F;Asheville                            

18. Ponder, Elizabeth;40;F;Asheville                            

19. Dunn, Patrick;57;M;Asheville            

20. Chappelear, Emily;40;F;Burnsville             

21. Kain, Elizabeth;35;F;Marshall                          

22. Sloan, Leslie;41;F;Fletcher                           

23. Caldwell, Ralph;65;M;Waynesville                    

24. Mcneil, Thad;18;M;Fletcher                           

25. Baker, Dustin;38;M;Fletcher             

26. Hilty, Kay;58;F;Franklin             

27. Norton, Ellie;30;F;Sylva    

28. Carlinnia, Brian;48;M;Fletcher                           

29. Jakushev, Kimberly;32;F;Franklin              

30. Bodnar, Jason;48;M;Candler

31. Bodnar, Jennifer;47;F;Candler

32. Langteau-Ball, Kelly;43;F;Waynesville                            

33. Devan, Rhonda;48;F;Swannanoa   


Asheville, NC - April 2019 – On the morning of April 13th, teams of runners from across the country will start a 75-mile odyssey from Highland Brewing Company, Asheville’s first brewery, towards a finish roughly 12 hours later in downtown Greenville. The Ville to Ville Craft Brew Relay presented by The Cliffs is only in its second year, but already one of the most popular races of its kind in the nation.

This unique relay is designed to celebrate the region’s outstanding craft beer tradition and its majestic natural beauty. "Our goal," states race director, Zack Hall, “is to deliver a high-quality event that encourages healthy living and celebrates our local communities.”

Teams of six runners will each run two legs ranging from 3.5 miles to slightly less than 9 miles along the course. Every team will utilize a support vehicle along the 75-mile course, transporting runners from one designated transition area to the next. The first leg will run from Highland Brewing Company to the popular Mountains to Sea Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway before turning south. Stops along the course include Fletcher, Hendersonville, East Flat Rock and Travelers Rest, SC as runner’s race towards a festive finish line celebration in downtown Greenville, SC. In total, two thousand runners and beer enthusiasts from 31 states are represented.

“We are thrilled to serve as the starting point and sponsor for this event,” said Molly McQuillan, Marketing Manager for Highland Brewing Company. “We were blown away with the energy and excitement we witnessed in the first year. We can’t wait to play host to an even larger crowd this year!”

The event is presented by The Cliffs, a collection of seven vibrant, luxury Carolina mountain communities. “The Ville to Ville Craft Brew Relay stretches from Asheville to Greenville highlighting the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain region of the Carolinas, where our seven communities are located,” said David Sawyer, managing partner and president of The Cliffs Clubs. “We are excited to be a sponsor of this year’s event and welcome participants from all over the country to The Cliffs. The Cliffs at Mountain Park will serve as one of the race transitions, where we look forward to supporting the runners and our talented local craft breweries.”

With a commitment to benefiting local charities, The Ville to Ville Craft Relay delivers more than just a good time for its participants. This year’s charity partners are: Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Carolinas, Poe Mill Achievement Center, Meals on Wheels of Greenville, and the YMCA of Greenville Foundation.

Similar relay races exist across the nation; however, very few have a focus on craft beer – or have such a demand for a spot on the starting line. The fact that the 2019 race sold out in less than 36 hours is a testament to its popularity. "We continue to be thrilled by the overwhelming response" said Hall.

Although the race is sold out, the welcome reception at Highland Brewing Company is open to the public and will feature food trucks, live music, and of course lots of local craft beer. Welcome festivities run from 2 pm to 8 pm on Friday, April 12th. Registration for the 2020 event begins on April 15th with a limited number of 350 team slots. More information about the relay can be found at

Warren Wilson College Athletics to Join NCAA Division III Membership Process

NCAA exploratory membership will mean more sports and more opportunities for college athletes.

 Asheville, NC – March 12, 2019 – The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has approved Warren Wilson College’s application for exploratory membership in NCAA Division III. The membership process will bring additional sports and wider opportunities for the college’s student athletes.

 “This is a very exciting time to be a part of Warren Wilson Athletics!” said Joni Williamson, Director of Athletics and Adventure Sports at Warren Wilson College. “The acceptance of our exploratory application is a huge step forward for the College and our student-athlete experience.”

 Warren Wilson College plans to introduce a new team sport in the near future to meet NCAA Division III requirements. The benefits of membership would also include closer travel, conference and postseason championship opportunities, resources, grant opportunities, professional development and more.

 The NCAA Division III philosophy supports a college environment focused on academic rigor while integrating the experience of passionate participation in competitive athletics. In preparation for this move, the college has already established a Student Athlete Advisory Committee and a faculty athletics representative.

 “The NCAA Division III philosophy is a natural fit, and we are looking forward to beginning this journey with the NCAA,” said Williamson.

 Currently a member of the United State Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Division II, Warren Wilson College will maintain dual-affiliation until the process for full membership in the NCAA is complete. Current varsity teams at the college include Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Cross Country, Cycling, Soccer, Swimming and Tennis. The process will not affect the Cycling Team, as it is not a NCAA-sponsored sport.

 Warren Wilson College will begin their exploratory membership year during the 2019-2020 academic year. NCAA staff and a representative from the NCAA Membership Committee will visit campus to evaluate the college’s philosophical and operational readiness for the provisional membership process, and they will educate college staff on NCAA Division III compliance concepts. After this exploratory year, the college will have an opportunity to enter into the five-year membership process.

Warren Wilson College is a vibrant, independent college with an innovative curriculum that purposefully integrates the liberal arts with community engagement and work experiences to prepare students for not only professional success, but also a life of meaning. Visit

Photo: WWC_Athletes.jpg

Caption: The Warren Wilson College Men’s Basketball Team prepares to compete. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has approved the college’s application for exploratory membership in NCAA Division III. Photo credit: Reggie Tidwell.

For more information, please call Joni Williamson at 828-771-2027, or email

Ingles SoCon Fan Experience to debut March 8-10 in conjunction with SoCon Basketball Championships

Ingles SoCon Fan Experience to debut March 8-10 in conjunction with SoCon Basketball Championships

Joe Lasher, Ryan “RnB” Barber – Boogie Therapi, The Carolina Lowdown Band & Lyric comprise concert lineup


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference and Ingles announced Monday the lineup of activities and performers for the inaugural Ingles SoCon Fan Experience, which will take place Friday, March 8, through Sunday, March 10, outside the U.S. Cellular Center at 68 Haywood Street in Asheville, North Carolina. Admission to the event is free.

 The Ingles SoCon Fan Experience will be highlighted by four concerts during its three-day run and will feature other family friendly activities. In addition to the concerts, there will be basketball-themed interactives, face painting, a TapSnap booth, an Ingles SoCon Mascot Challenge voting area with large mascot cutouts, and a chalk drawing area for kids. Also on site will be a large jumbotron showing live tournament action, live radio remotes, a concessions area and a SoCon merchandise booth. 

 The Ingles SoCon Fan Experience will be open from 3-7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, March 10. 

 Concerts will be performed by Joe Lasher on Friday, March 8, at 6:15 p.m., Ryan “RnB” Barber – Boogie Therapi on Saturday, March 9, at 11 a.m., The Carolina Lowdown Band on Saturday, March 9, at 4:30 p.m., and Lyric on Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m. 

 Joe Lasher is a rising country star whose dynamic performances have been captivating his home state of North Carolina for years. His songs, style and performances appeal to a broad spectrum of music lovers. He has become one of the hottest performers in the Southeast, having performed with the likes of Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Montgomery Gentry, and touring with Colt Ford and Luke Bryan.

 Ryan “RnB” Barber is at the forefront of Asheville’s funk and R&B community. He has released six full-length studio albums. He has also been featured on many high-profile projects, including producing on two of R&B stalwart W. Ellington Felton’s recent albums, and singing and rapping on the 2017 Grammy winning album “Infinity Plus One” by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.

 The Carolina Lowdown Band is a popular Asheville band performing rock and roll and dance hits from the 80s through today.

 LYRIC, led by Leeda “Lyric” Jones, plays a mixture of pop, soul and funk. The five-part band has developed a dedicated following in Asheville and the surrounding areas. Readers of Asheville’s independent weekly newspaper, The Mountain Xpress, have named LYRIC the top local act in both the soul and R&B/blues categories. She has shared the stage with the likes of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Gladys Knight, Booker T. Jones and Dionne Warwick. 

 The Ingles SoCon Fan Experience will also benefit Eblen Charities and its Hoops Against Hunger program. Hoops Against Hunger helps to provide snacks and meals to school-age children without enough food at home. Fans are encouraged to bring donations of ready-to-eat or easy-to-serve food items. People donating food items can receive a voucher for $5 off a general admission session ticket to the Ingles Southern Conference Basketball Championships presented by General Shale.