By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
The New Kids on the Block are “Showing Out”.
In their first season as a member of the Mountain Collegiate Conference, the Grand Canyon University Club Triathlon team has been setting the bar high for themselves during the fall. In their first race in September, the Mesa Sprint Triathlon, the Lopes had four competitors place in the top 25. By their second sprint race at Lake Pleasant a month later, all 12 Lopes who competed finished in the top 15, with Lopes Student Coach Jacob Windauer earning a first place time of 1:05:14.
Last Saturday, in their third and final sprint race of the semester, the Lopes stayed true to their trend as five Lopes (three men and two women) finished in the top 10 at the Anthem Holiday Classic.
Lopes Student Co-Coach Nick Windauer was the top performer for GCU with a second-place finish and overall time of 1:00:56. Nick’s incredible performance featured the fastest swim time of the entire field, and was only topped in overall time by a local professional triathlon athlete who was three minutes faster.
Meanwhile , Lopes’ first-year triathlete Derik DeFrance placed fourth overall with a time of 1:03:42. DeFrance also set a new personal record (PR) in his average biking speed with a 22mph average over the 20k trial.
“Bike proficiency is one of the most important factors in triathlon,” said Windauer. “With his improving speed, Derik becomes a rising option for our nationals’ draft legal selection.”
Fellow first-year tri-athlete Isaac “Lelo” Suffern has had to battle both injuries and a heavy course load this semester, but despite the challenges, posted a career best time of 1:27:17 in Anthem.
“We’re impressed with his commitment and ability to continue improving,” said Windauer. “He is a great testament to the effectiveness of simply committing to the workouts and trusting in the training plan.”
Finally, another Lopes’ first-year triathlete, Hannah McCulley, also set a career best time of 1:15:53. The time was even fast enough to beat out GCU’s previous number one female racer Kirsten Fotieo to win her division’s age group.
“(Hannah’s) bike is her strength, and (when it’s) followed up with a strong run, (it) leaves her with only improvements to make in the swim,” said Windauer.
The scores weren’t the only things that Windauer was impressed with Saturday, since he knows that the athletes’ focus leading up to the race was elsewhere.
“This race comes around during finals week-when most of our athletes are buried in exams, giving them less time to focus on training,” Windauer said. “The team has learned the ropes of setting up transition, checking for mechanical issues on bikes pre-race, and team warm ups before racing, which has made a huge impact on race readiness.”
Club Triathlon’s next race will be the Triton-man Sprint Triathlon hosted by University of California, San Diego in February .