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GCU Club Triathlon: 2020-21 Season Recap

Triathlon team Photo end of year
May 27, 2021

Lopes overcome COVID impairments to salvage 2-race season

By: Zach Melcher/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff

Never a dull day in triathlon.

COVID exposures, restrictions, and canceled races kept things in perspective for the Grand Canyon University Triathlon team.

“As an individual team sport, I thought it wouldn’t affect us much, but our restrictions of not meeting in large groups or being able to leave campus to train was tough,” said first-year Lopes’ Co-Coach Matthew Johnson. “We are normally a tight-knit team but learning to build those close connections was our toughest obstacle this year.”

Fall proved to be a tricky situation for the Lopes, since more than half the team was put in quarantine after separate exposures for each of the athletes including – Johnson.

“Our first full week of practice took place in late November,” said Johnson. “(Lopes’ Co-Coach) Rachel (Clifton) and I were both in quarantine, so Lauren Roe had to run practice. (With it) being my first year coaching, we learned a lot about how to work in a fire.”

According to Roe, who will be moving into a coaching position next season, the restrictions placed on the team forced them to get creative.

“It was hard not being able to go off campus to train because that was my favorite part of last season,” said Roe. “Although it was different, our team grew a lot, because everything we had to go through kept us together.”

Entering the second semester, the Lopes were cleared for their first race, traveling to Lake Pleasant to compete in the ICEMAN Triathlon. Despite being the first-ever race for many of the athletes, the Lopes’ newcomers had strong performances, led by Roe who finished 4th in the female division.

“We all felt so accomplished because we were finally given the green light and finished a race,” said Roe. “The first race was a key moment for the first-year people because we finally got to see what all our hard work was building to after dealing with COVID.”

GCU’s second and final race of the season was the Bartlett Lake Olympic Triathlon in Scottsdale. This was the Lopes’ most successful race individually this season, with everyone on the team placing either first or second in their respective age groups.

“We had a lot of excitement going into our second and final race,” said Johnson. “It was a great way for the ones who consistently showed up all year to end this crazy season on a high note.”

Although the season was nothing like seasons past, the outlook for the Lopes’ future is bright.

“Only having two races put a bigger focus around them this year as compared to our viewpoint in previous seasons,” said Roe. “This year has motivated us to learn more of the intricacies of triathlon as we look forward to being able to race even more next year.”

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