By: Mack Drake/GCU Staff
Kirsten Fotieo led all Grand Canyon University Triathlon athletes, clocking a time of 1:17.41 to take 41st in the Collegiate Women’s division at the 14th Annual Tritonman Triathlon in San Diego over President’s Day weekend.
Fotieo’s placing was the best among the 15 Lopes that competed. It was the first event for the GCU Triathlon team since the Saguaro Sprint Triathlon in November.
Lopes’ new Head Coach Troy Clark, who took control of the program after previous coaches Jake and Nick Windauer graduated in the winter, was pleased with his team’s performance on a tough Fiesta Island course that features a 750-meter open water swim, 21K bike and 5K run.
“It was great to compete against other colleges and see where we stack up against them,” Clark. “I was really impressed with all our athletes. For some of them, it was their first open water swim. That can be intimidating at first, so I was proud of everyone for finishing.”
Poor weather conditions have caused the open water swim portion of the Tritonman to be cut out of the competition in the last two years. Weather was not an issue this year, allowing athletes to complete all three phases of the event.
“It’s usually very windy at this course at this time of year,” Clark said. “We had really good weather this year. As for the course, it’s pretty flat. Our athletes really didn’t have any trouble with the course environment.”
Zach Stetzel led the GCU Men, crossing the finish line in 1:12.43 to take 52nd place. Derik DeFrance (1:16.27, 76th), Matthew Johnson (1:18.05, 87th) and Carson St. John (1:18.43, 93rd) also snagged top-100 finishes for the Lopes.
Despite being his first time competing in the open water, Daniel Sandoval finished in 1:47.00 to take 134th.
“I was really impressed with Daniel’s mental fortitude,” Clark said. “I wasn’t sure if he was going to finish the open water swim. It was great to see how well he did in open water instead of the pool we train in.”
Also claiming top-100 finishes for the GCU Women were Libby Ramsperger (1:24.05, 61st), Anna Wittenberg (1:28.28, 75th), Vacaville High School alum Lauren Roe (1:31.08, 88th) and Larissa Parker (1:33.37, 97th).
“Libby was very impressive – especially in the run. She shined there,” Clark said. “As usual, Kirsten (Fotieo) blew everyone out of the water in the swim. She was right up there with the top athletes in the event with her swim.”
After about a month off, the Lopes will compete in the Havasu Sprint Triathlon (Collegiate Conference Regional Championship) on March 14 in Lake Havasu.
Interested in joining GCU Triathlon? Learn more about the team by visiting their team page!