For the second year, the USAT Collegiate Club National Championships took place in Clemson, South Carolina for the weekend of April 22-23. This year brought a record field of participants with the field reaching almost 1,350 athletes. New to the competition this year was a high school club championship and an alumni mixed-team relay integrated into the collegiate mixed-team relay.
With a sky full of dark clouds holding back rain, the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championship kicked off Friday with the women’s draft-legal race. The draft-legal races consisted of a 750-meter swim, 19.6-kilometer bike and a 5k run in which drafting is allowed on the bike.
Brittany Warly of the University of Colorado – Boulder made her move on the run to cross the finish line in first place with a time of one hour, thirty-three seconds. University of Montana’s Erika Auckerlund took an early lead on the bike, riding by herself as her opponents formed draft-packs to try to move to the front. Auckerlund held on to finish in 1:01:11, earning herself second place. Close behind to round out the top three was Kelly Kosmo form the University of California Los Angeles, 1:01:46.
The men’s draft-legal race followed and proved to be a much faster paced race right from the beginning. Packs of 10-15 men flew by spectators as they cheered their favorite college athletes on.
Pennsylvania State University’s Mike Meehan crossed the finish line in an impressive fifty-three minutes, sixteen seconds to win the men’s race. Following close behind was Dan Feeney of CU Boulder who crossed the line in a total time of 0:53:32. Claiming third place on his campus grounds was John Felix of Clemson University, 0:53:45.
For the first time a High School Club National Championship was held in conjunction with the Collegiate Club National Championship. The high school athletes seemed eager to get in on the action as they lined up on beach to start off their race.
Winning the entire race overall and the girls’ race was Taylor Knibb from MC Elite. Knibb crossed the finish line in an amazing fifty-eight minutes, forty-one seconds with an almost three minute lead. Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club’s Audrey Ernst followed in second in a time of 1:01:31. Rounding out the podium spots for the girls was Addison Smith from pwrCYCLE, 1:03:51.
Taking the boys’ title was Jake Baugher from the Carolina Varsity Tri Club in a time of fifty-eight minutes, fifty-three seconds. Right on his heals was Andres Lopez-Aguirre with a finishing time of 0:59:00. Lachlan Hovius followed in third place with a time of 0:59:08.
On Saturday morning, the rest of the collegiate field raced again, this time a non-draft-legal olympic-distance race (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run). The bike and run course were redesigned this year to make it both safer and more spectator friendly. Both were two-lap courses with plenty of hills to make the legs hurt. Some of the scenes on the bike course were like biking through a photo gallery with the sun streaming through fog and shining through the green trees. The run course clocked in about a half-mile too long at 6.7-miles which explains the longer run splits for the day.
The University of Arizona’s Erica Clevenger ran herself into first place to earn the women’s olympic collegiate title. Clevenger finished with a total time of two hours, fifteen minutes, fifty-nine seconds. UCLA’s Kelly Kosmo, 2:16:09, and University of Montana’s Erika Ackerlund, 2:16:30, found themselves on the podium for the second day in a row finishing second and third respectively. Clevenger’s U of A teammate, Laura Haley, finished in fourth place with a time of 2:18:39. Rounding out the podium was Brittany Warly from CU Boulder, 2:18:46.
Mike Meehan found himself at the top of the podium once again for the weekend. Meehan of Penn State earned a perfect score with a total finishing time of one hour, fifty-eight minutes, twenty-three seconds. University of California Santa Barbra’s Sean Harrington crossed the finish line in 1:59:10. Michael Arishita from Texas A & M followed in third with 1:59:49. Right on Arishita’s heels was Collin Chartier from Marymount University for fourth, 1:59:53. Finding himself of the podium again to round out the top five in the men’s race was CU Boulder’s Dan Feeney, 2:00:40.
Perhaps the most exciting race for the athletes and spectators alike of the weekend took place on Saturday afternoon. The mixed-team relay, which consists of two men and two women from the same college, is a short, fast-paced race. The distances are 250m swim, 4.1k bike, and 1.2k run.
It was a sprint to the finish between UCLA and U of A for the overall title. With a combined time of one hour, eight minutes, sixteen seconds, the UCLA A team took home the title for the mixed team relay. The team was made up of: Hannah Grubbs, Matt Stewart, Kelly Kosmo, and Zach Jaeger.
The U of A TriCats team earned second place just seven seconds behind UCLA in 1:08:21. Claiming third and rounding out the podium was the United States Naval Academy with a finishing time of 1:08:53. CU Boulder finished fourth, 1:09:28.
An alumni mixed-team relay took place in conjunction with the collegiate MTR. With the race announced in January, the alumni had a fair showing with five teams from across the country.
The UCLA alumni team also took first in the alumni race with a total time of 1:11:24. The alumni who raced were: Vivien Cook, Dylan Bridges-Oliva, Courtney Dinicola, and John Mering. The University of California at Berkeley alumni team finished second, 1:14:38. Colorado State University alumni finished third, 1:17:28.
CU Boulder won their 7th straight combined team title with a total of 4,033. The combined team points are added up from the top draft-legal finisher on the team (100 points being the maximum earned) and the top four olympic-distance finishers (500 points being the maximum earned).
Earning second and not too far behind was UCLA with 4,012 points combined. The United States Navel Academy claimed third, 3995.
The fun will continue next year as the USAT CCNC returns to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A date has not yet been set.
For a full list of results, please visit: http://www.pigmantri.com/jmsracing/results16/usatcollegiate16.html.