Ricci Reflects on the Team’s Race at Nationals
April 23, 2012 (Boulder, CO) – In his fourth year as head coach of the University of Colorado triathlon team, Mike Ricci has guided his squad to its third team title in as many years. Ricci spoke with Colorado Triathlete about his team’s race and the future of collegiate triathlon.
CT: For the team competition, scores are tallied by adding up the places of the first four finishers. The CU women scored 75 points. They were led by Tess Amer (2:19:50), Bryn Morales (2:20:36), Courtney Clark (2:21:05), and Caryn Maconi (2:24:54). How did the race play out for the women?
RICCI: The women’s race had a very deep field, and I knew this going in. We also knew a few schools had one to two athletes that would be in the top 10 (Duke and Cal in particular). I didn’t know exactly what their depth was—and like we talk about all the time, you can only control what you can control. In this instance the only thing we could control is our race.
This is the most balanced women’s team we’ve had since I’ve been here. And if we look at the results, our time from our first woman to our last scoring woman was only 5 minutes 4 seconds. I knew we had a chance to be in the hunt but you never know how it will play out. And that’s what makes it so exciting.
All in all, they executed a great race and I couldn’t be happier for this group of CU women. They’ve worked hard and they definitely flew in under the radar. This is the best women’s team we’ve had at CU since I’ve been here.
CT: Where the women flew in under the radar, the men surely were a more known quantity. You had the returning men’s champion in Rudy Kahsar plus both returning and new athletes with impressive talent. When all was said and done, the men’s team placed three finishers in the top-10. Rudy Kahsar placed second (1:54:59), Drew Scott fourth (1:56:42), Chris Braden fifth (1:57:22), and David Bobka fourteenth (2:00:39). How did the race play out for the men?
RICCI: Once again, this was a deep field, and my feeling was that any one of 12 men could take the win. You had 4 of the top 6 returning from last year and there were a few newcomers I expected to make an impact, too. And that’s exactly how it played out.
In the first wave we had Drew Scott and Rudy Kahsar and I knew they’d be very close to each other throughout the race. They’ve been neck and neck all season and they definitely get better training with each other. We had Chris Braden and David Bobka in wave two and I knew those two would be fighting for a top-10 finish as well.
Dustin McLarty [the men’s winner from UC-Irvine] had his typical (incredible) swim and was off the front. Newcomer Ben Kanute was chasing hard and then Drew and Rudy looked to put time into both those guys on the bike. Of course Ryan Bice and Kevin McDowell from the Elite Academy were in hot pursuit as well. Off the bike Dustin had a sizable lead and after 2.5 miles it looked like only Ben would have a chance to catch him.
Rudy dug deep to pass Ben late and finish second only 26 seconds back. In a race this close every second counts and Rudy lost the transition battle to Dustin by 20 seconds or so and that shows you how important transitions are. Drew Scott finished strong with fifth overall. Chris Braden ran himself into sixth overall from the second wave. And David Bobka ran himself into fourteenth overall from the second wave, as well. Once again it was very much a team effort.
CT: Where do you see collegiate triathlon going in the future?
RICCI: From what I gather, USAT may be leaning toward adding a draft legal race at nationals with each school allowed one person in that race, which would then count for a certain percentage of the team score. Also, I do know there is talk of making this an NCAA sport on the women’s side.
CU Men’s Roster
CU Women’s Roster
CU Open Racers