TEMPE, Ariz. — In the program’s second appearance at the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships, the Central College women’s triathlon team placed fourth Saturday.
Central totaled 140 points and placed fourth in the 12-team Division III field. North Central College (Ill.) piled up 215 points on its way to a team title. A sprint triathlon includes a 750-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bike and a five-kilometer run. The best four entries from each team compile the team score.
“The race went really well,” coach Jennie Hedrick-Rozenberg said. “The weather was great. The amount of improvement we showed from last year in terms of results and race mentality was awesome.”
Last season, the Dutch were sixth as a team and 34 points out of third. This year Central was only 10 points from third place.
Lindsey Blommers (senior, Pella), who finished 12th a year ago, crossed the line 14th this year in 1 hour, 19.00 minutes. North Central’s Hailey Poe was the individual champion in 1:10.47.
“She had a good race,” Hedrick-Rozenberg said. “She lost a shoe at the beginning of the final transition. It was a really boring flat straight run in the middle of the desert so it was a tough race and they had to be in their own head a lot.”
Grace Benson (freshman, Newton) was the second Central competitor to finish, placing 17th in 1:20.25.
“She’s been working through some stuff on her own so it wasn’t as strong as she’d like it,” Hedrick-Rozenberg said. “But her bike and swim were really good.”
Seniors Thea Lunning (Mason City) and Jessica Carithers (senior, Mackinaw, Ill., Deer Creek-Mackinaw HS) were the final two of Central’s four team scorers in 29th and 32nd, respectively. Lunning finished in 1:22.33 and Carithers finished in 1:24.19.
“Between the two of them, they were a combined 11 minutes faster than last year,” Hedrick-Rozenbeg said. “That’s a pretty amazing drop. Thea especially pushed it hard on the bike.”
Freshmen Taylor Jones (Knoxville) and Luci Laidlaw (Pella) also made their championships debut, taking 35th in 1:26.36 and 38th in 1:28.11, respectively.
“Luci has improved so much over the course of the season,” Hedrick-Rozenberg said. “Just to see her tenacity to train with the girls who started higher than her is really exiting This was Taylor’s first full race where she was able to finish the run due to injury. She’s barely been running all fall and it was great to see complete one.”