Denver triathlon coach guided the Pioneers to podium finishes in all six races in 2022.
DENVER – University of Denver women’s triathlon head coach Barbara Perkins has been named the NCAA Division-I Coach of the Year by the Collegiate Triathlon Coaches Association.
Perkins guided the Pioneers to a third-place finish at the 2022 Collegiate National Championships and five other podium finishes during the regular season. Denver finished first or second in all five of their races prior to nationals, including team wins at the Southern Hills Triathlon on Sept. 3 in Hot Springs, South Dakota, and the Bearathlon on Oct. 30 in Berkeley, California.
DU placed second as a squad at the Oktoberfest Sprint Triathlon on Sept. 24 in Longmont, Colorado; at the inaugural Mile High Relays on Sept. 25 on the Denver campus and at the Western Regional National Qualifier on Oct. 15 in Stockton, Missouri.
Perkins, who is also in her first season as the Division-I representative for the CCTA, helped lead the western schools’ push for races on Sept. 24-25 in Colorado after the Americas Triathlon Cup in St. George, Utah — scheduled the same weekend — was cancelled weeks before happening. Denver, Arizona State, South Dakota and San Francisco raced at the Oktoberfest Sprint on that Saturday before wrapping up the weekend with the inaugural Mile High Relays event at DU the following day.
Perkins organized the Mile High Relays, giving the NCAA triathlon teams another competitive race during the season but also in a different format than the usual swim-bike-run event. Each school had two relay squads of three athletes, who competed in a 200-meter swim and 1000-meter run at the El Pomar Natatorium and around Denver’s sports fields. The race served as the first-ever triathlon event on the University of Denver campus.
At the national championships on Nov. 12 in Tempe, Arizona, the Pioneers had four top-20 results and all five scorers place in the top 22. Sophomores Olivia Ebenstein, Freya McKinley and Clara Normand led Denver in 11th, 12th and 17th place, while graduate student Melissa Funes placed 19th and freshman Elizabeth Harita came in 22nd. The team’s third-place result was the highest by a women’s individual program at a national championship event in school history.
The Carson City, Nevada, native is in her third season at the helm of the Denver program after being hired for the position on July 1, 2020. She led the squad through a delayed-spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in her first year in 2020-21 and a fourth-place finish at its first-ever national championships in fall 2021.
— Ron Knabenbauer / Denver Athletics