Cal Poly’s top 20 triathletes will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama April 25 to compete at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club Nationals. The team will be competing against some of the nation’s best including University of Southern California, University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University and University of Colorado Boulder.
“In my opinion, this is the strongest squad that Cal Poly has ever sent to nationals,” Cal Poly Triathlon pro coach Jon Harmse said.
The triathlon will kick off Friday, April 27, where triathletes will race in the draft-legal sprint — a 700 meter swim, 12 mile bike and a 5k run. All 20 athletes will compete in the Olympic distance race, a 1,500 meter swim followed by a 40 kilometer bike and a 10 kilometer run, April 28.
Harmse said the coaches’ goal is for the women’s team to place in the top ten nationally and for the men’s team to place in the top five nationally.
“Our guys team is mostly graduating seniors and graduate students which is why they are so good. They’ve been working at this for three or four years to get to this point,” Harmse said.
Cal Poly’s top four triathletes, two males and two females, will each race in the mixed team relay, a super sprint triathlon.
“I think we have a really fast team this year – faster than we’ve had ever before. There is a lot more energy and desire to place,” team member Rachel Draffen said.
With over 130 multi-sport athletes on the team, the Triathlon Team is Cal Poly’s largest club sport. This year, the team has raised nearly $2,000 for the trip through several fundraising opportunities.
The team held “Bike to Tuscaloosa” Feb. 15 in the University Union, where team members cumulatively biked over 11 hours of stationary riding, hypothetically carrying the team 2,200 miles to the April race in Tuscaloosa. Donors gave money on-site and sponsored athletes biking by donating money per minute or mile.
The team raised $1,200 during Dec, and Jan. through a partnership with Wild Groves, an olive oil store in Newcastle. Dewey Lucero, the founder of Wild Groves and Triathlon Team alumni, donated 40 percent of his proceeds to the team from orders made online with a special code.
“Dewey has really helped out and made a huge impact on this race. We have a really deep alumni relation with our team,” Vice President Mitch Fisher said.
The team has won four of their five races this year and will continue preparing physically and mentally for the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships, according to Harmse.