A field of 80 women will compete this Saturday in the Women's Collegiate Triathlon National Championship, held at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, Florida, while top age-groupers will compete in draft-legal world championship qualifiers on Saturday and Sunday.
The Women's Collegiate Triathlon Nationals race features a draft-legal 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course, beginning at 9 a.m. ET. The draft-legal competition structure and rules have been proposed for use collegiate level when triathlon is granted official NCAA sport status.
Athletes in the at-capacity field earned their spots to compete in Clermont based on individual and team finishes at two regional qualifiers. The top-five finishers at the Women's Collegiate Triathlon Regional Qualifiers in the West and Central regions punched their tickets to Clermont, as well as the top teams based on scoring at each event. Invitations were extended to women registered for the East qualifier (canceled due to weather) as well as top performers from USA Triathlon Collegiate Club Nationals and Junior Elite Nationals held earlier this year.
Ten schools are fielding teams of three or more athletes, including five schools with established varsity triathlon programs: Black Hills State University, Daemen College, Marymount University, Queens University of Charlotte and the University of West Alabama. Other teams with three or more athletes include California, Colorado, Texas A&M, UCLA and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Three athletes who finished in the top 10 of last year's inaugural Women's Collegiate Triathlon Nationals are returning to the start line on Saturday, including defending champion Kelly Kosmo from UCLA. Kosmo earned the title last year by nearly 1 minute ahead of the field, and she also won the draft-legal race at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in April. Both winners of the regional qualifiers, Marissa Ferrante of Stanford and up-and-coming high school athlete Alex Lorenz, will also compete.
Other athletes to watch include Laura Mathews of Rice University, who won the women's 20-24 age group in 2014 and 2015 at USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals; Jocelyn Bonney from Queens University, the runner-up for women 16-19 at the ITU Sprint World Championships in September; and Colorado's Brittany Warly, runner-up at the draft-legal race at Collegiate Club Nationals earlier this year and winner of the a U25 Elite Development Race in Clermont in March. The field also includes record-holders and champions at the state and national levels in swimming, cross-country, track and field and triathlon.
Read more about these athletes and this weekend's event at usatriathlon.org.
Triathlon received overwhelming approval through a voting process in January 2014 at the NCAA Convention in San Diego by Division I, II and III colleges and universities to be included as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, and has a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability as an NCAA sport option. For more information on triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, visit usatriathlon.org/ncaa.
Following the Women's Collegiate Triathlon National Championship event, more than 300 age-group athletes will compete in Lake Louisa State Park on Saturday and Sunday in hopes of clinching a spot on Team USA, USA Triathlon's amateur world championships team for various ITU World Championships.
The Triathlon Draft-Legal Qualifier on Nov. 7 begins at 11 a.m. ET with the age-group women and continues at 2 p.m. with the age-group men. Top athletes will earn a spot for the 2016 ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico. The Duathlon Draft-Legal Qualifier will take place on Nov. 8, with start times at 11 a.m. ET for men and 12:30 p.m. ET for women. Top run-bike-run athletes may earn a spot for the 2016 ITU Sprint Duathlon Worlds, set to take place in Aviles, Spain.
For both the triathlon and duathlon qualifiers, the top-10 finishers in each age group can secure spots on Team USA for the 2016 ITU World Championships in their respective disciplines, provided they finish within 30 percent of the age-group winner's time. Roll down spots will not be awarded; only those in the top 10 and within 30 percent of the age-group winner's time will be considered for Team USA.
The draft-legal world qualification races emphasize the option for a community field to compete alongside future NCAA events. Draft-legal racing for age-group athletes is a growing discipline in multisport, and will be supported by ITU for the first time in 2016. Read more on the Triathlon and Duathlon Draft-Legal Qualifiers at usatriathlon.org.