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ASU women win their fifth consecutive US triathlon national title as the sport gets closer to NCAA status

A two-year difference created parity in the field, but the state of Arizona remained dominant in the fifth episode of the U.S. Women’s National Triathlon Collegiate Championship on Saturday at Tempe Town Lake.

“It h -pens, you set the bar, you raise the bar and people will come and chase you. We knew they were coming and the team is so strong and they are fighting, ”said head coach Cliff English.

Arizona state graduate Hannah Henry finished second, ending a career that included two individual championships in her first and sophomore years. Henry came in 1: 04: 46.3 behind Kira Gupta Baltazar of the University of San Francisco, the new national champion.

“I’m still super h -py and super proud of everyone who drove today. I know Kira is an amazing, super strong athlete so I’m totally h -py to finish second behind her, ”said Henry.

Gone were the days when ASU took the top 5 finishes on the podium as both San Francisco and South Dakota retained a stronger presence in the competition. San Francisco finished second as a team, while three finished fourth or better. South Dakota finished third overall with two in the top ten.

Amber Schlebusch finished sixth for ASU, followed by doctoral student Kyla Roy (individual champion 2019) in seventh place.

The next season will look different for ASU as the two national champions, Henry and Roy, will leave after five years with ASU.

“[The final race] was bittersweet. Hannah [Henry] and I crossed the finish line and she cut the rope and I did the same to her. We’ve been here for five years and passed our time, and it’s just about time the upcoming newcomer got on with it, ”said Roy.

Alexe Coursol, who finished eighth overall, was named Freshman of the Year by USA Triathlon, a good sign for the future of the team.

“Once you’ve won, it’s not an end in itself. You always want to achieve more and when you have a victory you take it and pack it in your luggage, then you move forward and want to achieve more. I didn’t win the race, I won Freshman of the Year, but I wasn’t on the podium so it’s a little more every year, ”said Coursol.

Senior Kira Stanley finished 12th while Senior Audrey Ernst finished 15th. Junior Liberty Ricca, the usual fifth place for ASU, addressed a mechanical problem in the 20K bike race and finished 39th overall.

“Kira said, ‘Oh my god, I’m the fifth person.’ It was like cheering her on and I’m glad she got a good position for the team, ”said Roy.

As the placements at the championships in 2021 show, the triathlon is getting even closer to eligibility for full NCAA status. With 38 schools rolling out a program in the three divisions, English estimates that within 12 to 18 months they will be removed from the full 40 teams that need to be considered. Once the sport gains NCAA status, it will transform the landsc -e of sport that the state of Arizona has built in recent years.

“It’s also very meaningful because we know that winning titles is one thing, but we also feel that we have a huge part in helping the sport move forward and raise the bar,” said English. “We’re really trying to help other schools get on board, help them with whatever they need. Regardless of whether it is about budget or information or to help some coaches with mentoring. Maybe I’ll have to stop soon because we’re getting closer. ”

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