Arizona State University continues to lead the NCAA charge both on and off the course. The Sun Devils team won for a fourth consecutive time at the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championship, this time on home soil in Tempe, Arizona.
ASU teammates Kyla Roy and Audrey Ernst sealed the team win by finishing first and second. The teammates broke away from the lead pack on the bell lap of the 20K bike course and then battled it out on the 5K run, with Roy, a junior, ultimately pulling away to win in 1:05:22. Ernst finished 30 seconds back to take the runner-up spot as a sophomore.
Finishing third overall was DII athlete Natalie Hidalgo Martinez of Davis & Elkins College, a small liberal arts school in Elkins, West Virginia. The college has an enrollment of 800 students and was able to start a varsity triathlon program two years ago thanks to a grant from USA Triathlon. Martinez is a freshman who was recruited to Davis & Elkins all the way from Spain.
Leah Drengenberg, a sophomore from the University of South Dakota, rounded out the podium in the DI division. Last year she was named USD’s Female Rookie Athlete of the Year after finishing sixth. USD is one of only six Division I schools with a triathlon program, but USAT is confident that number will surge as soon as triathlon reaches 40 varsity programs and can apply for full-fledged NCAA status.
As an NCAA “emerging sport” since 2014, triathlon has already grown to 32 varsity programs with two more soon to be announced. It’s likely that that triathlon will have its first official NCAA Championship by 2021. That also means it will be one of the sports included in the annual College Director’s Cup—something like an Oscar for Division I athletic departments; essentially ranking the most dominant universities in the country based on performance at national championships. Stanford has won the Director’s Cup 25 times and takes it very seriously, as do a number of “Power 5” conference schools.
Thirteen of the 32 current varsity programs are Division III schools, and the DIII teams had their own race separate of the DI/DII race that took place earlier in the day. North Central College of Naperville, Illinois, took home top honors in the team standings and the individual race, with Sophomore Madelyn Scopp winning the overall title in 1:11:08. Scoop is a two-sport athlete who competed in last year’s DIII cross-country national championship.
Amira Faulkner, a freshman from Trine University in Angola, Indiana, finished second in the DIII race, leading the Trine Thunder to a second-place trophy in the DIII team classification. Millikin University from Decatur, Illinois, took home third in the division.
Queens University of Charlotte placed second and third in the DII division, which gave them the national title ahead of Davis & Elkins. Finishing third in the DIII team classification was Black Hills State University of Spearfish, South Dakota, which sounds like a pretty nice place to swim, bike and run.
NCAA Division I Team
1. Arizona State University, 8 points
2. University of South Dakota, 18
3. East Tennessee State University, 29
NCAA Division II Team
1. Queens University of Charlotte, 12 points
2. Davis & Elkins College, 17
3. Black Hills State University, 33
NCAA Division III Team
1. North Central College, 10 points
2. Trine University, 25
3. Millikin University, 28
NCAA Division I Individuals
1. Kyla Roy (Arizona State University), 1:05:22
2. Audrey Ernst (Arizona State University), 1:05:52
3. Leah Drengenberg (University of South Dakota), 1:07:21
NCAA Division II Individuals
1. Natalia Hidaglo Martinez (Davis & Elkins College), 1:06:30
2. Natalie Bash (Queens University of Charlotte), 1:07:10
3. Sam McInnes (Queens University of Charlotte), 1:07:36
NCAA Division III Individuals
1. Madelyn Scopp (North Central College), 1:11:08
2. Amira Faulknere (Trine University), 1:11:27
3. Annika Cotner (North Central College), 1:12:41