TEMPE, Ariz. — The 2022 NCAA women’s triathlon season wrapped up with the national championships in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, November 12. Women’s triathlon is an NCAA emerging sport with 10 years of momentum toward full-fledged NCAA status. Colorado’s two schools with varsity programs capped strong seasons with the University of Denver finishing third in Division I competition and Colorado Mesa University taking second in Division II.
DU Pioneers Finish Third in Division I
The University of Denver women’s triathlon team placed third at the Division-I Collegiate National Championships at Tempe Town Lake to conclude the 2022 season.
Denver had four athletes finish in the top 20 of the NCAA Division-I event, led by sophomores Olivia Ebenstein in 11th, Freya McKinley in 12t, Clara Normand in 17th, and graduate student Melissa Funes in 19th. Freshman Elizabeth Harita was DU’s fifth and final scorer in 22nd place.
“The team did an amazing job today from top to bottom. They have all believed this entire season in what we could accomplish and that has driven us throughout the whole year,” said head coach Barbara Perkins. “This team is incredibly close and wanted to perform for each other, which made a huge difference in how things played out during the race. There was a lot of bravery, tenacity and heart out there today, and I’m so incredibly proud to have taken third as a team. It was a group effort through and through, and we’re proud of the accomplishment.”
Ebenstein finished the race in 1:05:55.8 and was just outside the top 10 as 2021 individual national champion Kira Gupta-Baltazar of San Francisco beat her by five-tenths of a second in a sprint to the finish line. Ebenstein posted the fourth-fastest bike time (34:46.2) and the second-fastest, second transition at 21.6 seconds.
McKinley crossed the finish line 20 seconds after Ebenstein in a total time of 1:06:15 after posting a 10:38.7 swim, 37:11.8 bike, and 19:15.9 run.
Freshman Coco Diemar came in 21st and sophomore Avarie Faulkner placed 37th as Denver’s two non-scorers in the race. Faulkner had a crash and mechanical issues in the bike segment.
The Pioneers garnered 194 total points to place third as a team in the race. Arizona State University finished with 239 points and just edged out Queens University of Charlotte to win the team championship. Queens posted 230 points with three athletes in the top 10 and all five scorers in the top 21.
The Pioneers joined ASU and Queens as the only teams with three or more athletes in the top 20.
Arizona State’s Amber Schlebusch won the individual national championship in 1:03:41 while teammate Liberty Ricca earned the silver medal by clocking in at 1:04:51. Queens’ Letizia Martinelli (1:04:55) joined the pair of Sun Devils on the podium in third place to round out the only athletes with sub-1:05:00 times.
Denver’s third-place result marks the highest finish by a women’s individual team at a national championship event in school history.
With the Pioneers’ fall regular season now complete and the school going on winter break in two weeks, the team will resume training in January in preparation for several spring races.
CMU Mavericks Finish Second in Division II
All seven Colorado Mesa University triathletes turned in all-America performance as the Mavericks matched their best ever finish as a team, taking second in the NCAA Division II portion of the 2022 Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships.
The Mavericks had two top-seven finishes from bronze medalist Shannon Feran and seventh place finisher Megan Buchanan, both of whom are now Collegiate Triathlon Coaches Association First Team All-Americans.
Feran turned in a time of one hour, seven minutes, 20.6 seconds in the race, which included a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer draft-legal bike, and 5-kilometer run. Buchanan was clocked in 1:08.21.
Meanwhile, freshman Nadine Klive finished 11th to earn second team all-America honors, which go to the eighth through 15th place finishers.
The Mavs also had three honorable mention all-America performances from Torin Lackmann, Natalie Mitchell, Paloma Suarez Davila, and Josie Williams. Lackmann finished 15th in 1:09.15.6 while Mitchell and Suarez were just over two seconds apart, taking 17th and 18th place, respectively. Mitchell finished in 1:09.47.7 while Suarez was timed in 1:09:49.8.
Williams finished 21st in 1:10:22.8.
Wingate’s Julia Kekkonen claimed the individual title in 1:06:54.5 while Drury’s Jayme Vermaas was second in 1:07.08.2 as the only two finishers ahead of Feran.
Lenior-Rhyne then had the next three finishers while adding a ninth-place tally to clinch the team victory while the Mavericks finished ahead of pre-meet No. 1 Wingate and the rest of the field, which featured triathletes from 12 different NCAA Division II teams.
LR finished with 268 points while CMU had 252, six more than Wingate.
The Mavs were also the only school to have all seven athletes earn CTCA All-America honors and have now finished in the top four at each of the last four national championships. They were fourth in 2019 and 2021 and placed second out of five teams in 2018.
Two other Mavericks also competed on the same course earlier in the day during the age-group Sun Devil Triathlon Classic. Ashlyn Hicken finished sixth overall and second amongst women with a time of 1:11:16.7 while Abby Croasdell was tenth overall and fourth amongst all women in 1:13:16.6. Croasdell was the top female in the 20-24 age group while Hicken was second in the 19 and under group.
— Ron Knabenbauer of Denver Athletics and Christopher Day of CMU Sports Information contributed to this report