By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
In their much-anticipated first year in USA Triathlon’s Mountain Collegiate Triathlon Conference, the Grand Canyon University Triathlon Club sent eight athletes to the regional conference qualifier last weekend in Lake Havasu City, with half of them finishing the race under 90 minutes. Lopes’ Co-Head Coach Jake Windauer led the way with a 17th-place finish.
For the second straight race, the Lopes had to adjust on race day when the poor water in the lake forced organizers to reduce the format for the competition to a duathlon, which replaces the swim portion of the race with an opening (and extra) running segment. While adjusting to similar conditions at February’s Tritonman Triathlon in San Diego, California, the majority of the Lopes had been running sprint races – a different distance than Olympic-style runs – so it was truly an adjustment “on the fly”.
“The course is twice the distance of what most of us had been doing,” said Windauer, who finished with an overall time of one hour, 51 minutes and 52 seconds. “The bike leg was a lot of uphill climbing, which caught us off guard. Overall, we did pretty well for the circumstances around us.”
While the season is not yet over for the team, it was the final time sporting the purple and white for senior Spencer Crouder.
“The feeling was a bit nostalgic – knowing it was my last time running with the team – but I know it won’t my final competition ever,” said Crouder. “I felt it was a good final race, and I’m happy to have gotten to try an Olympic distance with the team before doing one on my own.”
Crouder was the 2nd-best finisher on the day for the Lopes with a time of two hours, 13 minutes and 17 seconds, just 16 minutes faster than teammate Matthew Penksaw. GCU’s Isaac Suffern just missed finishing in the top 100 on the men’s side with a time of 3:11:09. Hannah McCulley was just ahead of Penksaw’s time in leading the contingent of Lopes’ women by hitting the tape at two hours, 27 minutes and 16 seconds, which placed her in the top 50 on the women’s side. Aly Gilcrease and Nova Scott finished within 12 minutes of each other, and both placed in the race’s top 75 for the women.
Meanwhile, in the Sprint Division, GCU’s Jessica Graves and Abigail Bigelow hit the tape within two minutes of each other, finishing just out of the top 50 for the women.
Looking towards Nationals
After spring break, Grand Canyon will come back with two weeks to prepare for the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships April 5 and 6 in Tempe. Because Tempe Town Lake suffers from the same poor water quality as Lake Havasu, this competition may also be reduced to a duathlon, and that may wind up an advantage towards the club.
“The swim isn’t necessarily our strong suit,” said Windauer. “With the course being so close this time, we have a better opportunity to prepare and familiarize ourselves with the route. (We need to work on) practicing on turning, avoiding any possible DQs, and getting used to have to being dead tired 20 minutes into a run with 20 more to go.”
GCU Triathlon Club Overall Results – 2019 Havasu Triathlon (MCTC Championships):