Jake Windauer leads four Lopes’ podium finishes at Cactus Man Triathlon
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
Having one last opportunity to show their season-long progress, the Grand Canyon University Triathlon Club took advantage of it, posting their best overall team performance of 2017-18 at the Cactus Man Sprint/Olympic Triathlon in Tempe. Despite losing one of their top performers to injury during the final week of preparation, and having to rearrange practice schedules during GCU Finals Week, all four members of GCU Triathlon made it to the podium in their respective age groups for the race, led by Jake Windauer’s impressive 3rd-place overall finish at the event. The event closed out the six-race schedule for the 2017-18 athletic season for the club.
Normally, Jake Windauer and his twin brother, Nick, who together formed the GCU Triathlon Club last year, use each other as motivation to perform in each race. This time, however, Nick suffered a knee injury just days before the event, and was forced to pull out of the race. Nevertheless, Jake Windauer maintained his focus throughout the race, stepping out of the water after the swim in 8th place overall. Jake used the bike portion to make up time and spots, finishing that leg with a time of 33 ½ minutes, which moved him up to 6th place. Jake used his strongest part of the race, the run, to creep up on the leaders, including making a push on the 2nd-place finisher, Tony Rice, before setting for 3rd place overall with a total time of one hour, six minutes and 24 seconds.
Windauer was one of three male GCU athletes that competed, and finished with a top-3 finish for their respective age groups. Competing in his final race as a GCU senior, Spencer Crouder posted a top-40 finish overall with an overall time of one hour, 22 minutes and 26 seconds, placing him 38th overall in the field, and 3rd in his age group (Male 20-24). Crouder, who was racing in his first event since competing in the Tritonman Triathlon in San Diego in February, actually improved on his bike race time from Tritonman by over a full second, which kept him within range after a swim leg of just under 19 minutes. Crouder finished the race with a run time of just under 23 minutes.
“He’s had such a busy schedule lately with his personal life and his work-that Nick and I weren’t sure what to expect from Spencer,” said Jake Windauer about Crouder’s performance. “We were impressed by what he did in Tempe, because he’s made a good, steady improvement on the bike, and the fact that he was just a couple of minutes slower here than two months in San Diego show his strong aerobic base. With some work on his swim and some outdoor bike rides this summer, the sky’s the limit for Spencer.”
The Lopes’ lone female representative in Tempe, Alysia Kilcrease, used a strong finishing run to place 3rd in her age group (Female 20-24). The sophomore from Paso Robles, California, improved her swim time by 30 seconds from the last Tempe triathlon she competed in-the Ignite the Fork Triathlon last November-with a time of just over 17 minutes. Kilcrease completed the bike ride in just under 50 minutes, then completed her run in just over 28 minutes. Kilcrease finished among the top 50 women in the race with an overall time of one hour, 39 minutes, and four seconds, and showed that she had ‘turned the corner’ in more ways than one.
“Seeing her progression through the season has been huge-not just for me, but for the whole team,” said Windauer about Kilcrease. “She had a bad wreck our first race of the season on the bike, which can really kill a lot of people’s confidence. This course at Cactus actually included the same leg of the race as where she wrecked earlier this season. Her success at the race showed her ability to overcome her injuries, and more importantly, the mental roadblock that can come from a negative experience like that.”
Finally, for the Lopes’ Troy Clark, the Cactus Man was a chance to try to improve on each triathlon leg, which he did in just his third overall triathlon. Clark’s swim was two seconds better than his time at the collegiate regional race, the Havasu Triathlon, in late March. Clark-a sophomore from Litchfield Park-then hopped on the bicycle, and maintained a 20-miles-per-hour pace throughout the turn-filled course. Clark finished the race strong, besting his run in Lake Havasu by a full ten seconds, taking 2nd in the 20-24 Olympic distance age group.
“Since this was only his second Olympic distance ever, it’s great to see him find his stride,” Windauer spoke about Clark’s race. “He is a man that can get anything done, but the longer distance allows him to not be pushing his threshold the entire race, and provides more time for a focused effort.”
Fighting through adjusted practice schedules, pre-race injuries and finals to get all four Lopes’ participants some sort of medal from the event is something Jake Windauer didn’t take lightly.
“We showed that the base we built up earlier in the year could keep us competitive, and we still put down a solid race during finals season,” Jake said. “A lot of people were talking about our team’s performances after the race, and it feels good to know that our team is getting noticed for their strong effort. I can’t wait to see what next year holds for our athletes.”