Clark finishes 9th overall in race; Crouder wins age group in final race of season
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
Trying to show what they’d learned from a successful year of team building, two members of the Grand Canyon University Triathlon Club posted high marks at the Cactus Man Triathlon at Tempe Arts Park in Tempe. Lopes’ junior Troy Clark, Jr. forged through the entire field to place 9th overall in the Olympic-distance race, while GCU senior Spencer Crouder surged to the top in winning his age group in the sprint category while placing 148th overall. The results officially end the Lopes’ Triathlon schedule for the 2018-19 season.
While the rest of the Lopes’ Triathlon team had already broken ranks following Commencement Week on the GCU campus a week before the race (including the two Montana-based head coaches, Jake and Nick Windauer), Clark and Crouder decided to represent the Lopes in the race across town during the first Sunday in May. After battling such adverse conditions as water conditions poor enough to reduce the race to a duathlon in two of the Lopes’ previous three events, both runners found the conditions in Tempe much more to their liking.
After getting out of the water in just under 25 minutes flat, Clark finished the bike portion of the Olympic category just a scant 12 minutes behind the overall race leader. Clark then hit the high gear during the final leg of the race, completing the running portion in just over 41 minutes – the third-lowest time of anyone that finished in the overall top 10. Clark – who hails from Litchfield Park in the southwest part of the Phoenix area – finished with an overall time of two hours, 18 minutes and 25 seconds, which placed him eighth among male racers, and 9th place overall.
“It’s great to see Troy post his best time of the year in the Olympic distance,” said Jake Windauer. “Missing him at nationals was huge as we only had 3 of our four male athletes bring in big points to support our 49th-place team finish. With the times he is having, we have a promising start for next season, and I know he will be crucial in raising our national standings next year.”
Meanwhile, Crouder – who was coming off a strong, 69th-place finish at the Collegiate Conference Regional Championships in Lake Havasu in mid-March – ran in the Sprint category in Tempe, and dominated the Male 20-24 age group. Crouder played catch-up throughout much of the first two legs of the race, trailing Joe Graff by nearly five minutes after the swim portion. However, once on dry land, Crouder hopped on the bicycle, and made up nearly the entire deficit on Graff, beginning the running portion of the race just 52 seconds behind. Crouder – a native of Granite Hills, California – then blew away the field in his age group during the run, nailing it in just over 22 minutes to take the tape at an overall time of one hour, 18 minutes and 48 seconds, beating the 2nd-place Graff by nearly eight minutes.
The Lopes are now off for the summer to work on off-season training programs and individual races, then will reconvene in the fall to prepare for the first race in late September.
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