By Rich Soares
USAT COLLEGIATE CLUB AND HIGH SCHOOL NATIONALS
APRIL 27-28, 2018
Go to any high school or collegiate contest and you notice the unmistakable energy of youthful athletes and fans. School chants, fight songs and air horns fill the air, while flags, mascots and costumes create a visually vivid landscape. This weekend’s USA Triathlon Collegiate Club and High School Nationals delivered an experience that was exponentially more electric than your typical collegiate competition. A rolling sea of team tents covered 1100 athletes from 109 colleges. Schools from coast to coast brought their school spirit, competitiveness and the best demonstrations of sportsmanship at what is arguably the highest level of competition for High School and Collegiate triathletes.
While they competed fiercely for individual and team standings, athletes gave each other high-fives and hugs at the start and finish lines. They encouraged each other on the course and celebrated in the post-race ice bath pools. For all the competitive grit, sprint finishes, and gut-wrenching efforts, the culture of triathlon was evidenced in encouragement on the course and concern at the medical tent.
Due to heavy rainfall in Tuscaloosa the past two weeks, the Holt Dam spillway gates were opened by local officials to avoid flooding. Heightened volume in the Black Warrior River necessitated that the gates remain open through race weekend, resulting in overly strong currents that were deemed unsafe for swimming. USAT officials announced a course change mid-week. All races will be shifted from a triathlon (swim-bike-run) to a duathlon (run-bike-run) to ensure athlete safety.
Colorado teams had a great showing. At the Olympic distance, CU’s Men’s and Women’s teams came in second to the Naval Academy and UC Berkeley respectively. CSU Women placed 5th and Men 9th. USAFA Women came in 11th and Men’s 12th. Colorado School of Mines Women came in 47th and Men 55th. Combined scores put CU in 2nd, CSU in 7th, USAFA 9th and CSM in 49th.
CU Buffs Roy Madrid and Timothy Winslow finished 2nd and 3rd behind the University of California’s Sean Harrington, who took the Men’s race with a 1:33:58. The Women’s champion was Stephanie Murphy of US Naval Academy and CSU’s Katrina Lems was Colorado’s first Woman in 8th place. In the High School contest, Austin Podhajsky and Jack Deweerdt from Parker, Colorado took 2nd and 3rd respectively behind the Male winner Drew Shellenberger. Cassidy Hickey of Parker, Colorado took 2nd behind the Female winner Gillian Cridge.
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