ASU women's triathlon submits bid to host 2017 National Championship

After success in its first season as a Division I team, the Sun Devils hope to defend their title in their own backyard

The ASU women's triathlon team is confident as it tries to defend its national championship from its inaugural season and is working toward repeating that success in Tempe.

In their first season as a Division I program, the Sun Devils won the 2016 USA Triathlon Women's Collegiate National Championship in New Orleans. Now, the team is attempting to grow the sport both locally and nationally by submitting a bid to host the 2017 USA Triathlon Women’s Collegiate National Championship.

“We have a pretty good plan if we do get the bid," senior Katie Gorczyca said. "It would be a spectator friendly location, there are a lot of people involved in the process.”

ASU is expected to find out if they were given the bid by the end of March. The process includes getting approved by the City of Tempe, organizing a plan in terms of the race, then submitting the final plan to the USA Triathlon national governing body.

The current plan up for approval is to hold the race at Tempe Town Lake on Nov. 5.

“I think it is incredible (hosting) and would be another big step in promoting and growing the sport," English said. "It would really bring a lot of exposure."

A triathlon is mainly an individual sport, consisting of swimming cycling and running, but it is quickly transforming into a team competition much like track and field and cross country. 

The sport is extremely long and taxing, forcing an athlete to be in top-notch condition every day. The training is rigorous and intense, something head coach Cliff English prides himself on. 

“Weekly we swim five times per week, run three to four times and bike three to four times," English said. "Plus strength and conditioning."

But as race day nears, the training differs.

"As we get closer to a competition we do track workouts and what we call brick workouts," sophomore Sarah Quintero said. "You either do a swim/bike or a bike/run combo to help your body get used to the feeling of going from one thing to another."

The team was introduced in 2016 and immediately proved to be a positive addition to the athletic department, winning the national title in its first year as a Division I competitor.

“All of us trained really hard and kept up with our nutrition," Gorczyca said. "We were all pretty happy with the result.”

Gorczyca led the team individually with a second-place finish, along with two others placing in the top 10 — grad student Amy Darlington and sophomore Charlotte Ahrens. But despite the team's immediate success, English said he continues to build his program and grow the sport. 

“It was a challenge for sure," English said about last year's experience. "My main focus for the first season was to start to build this team, and if the win happened then that was a bonus. I am so proud of this team, it was beyond my expectations."

Now, with the 2017 spring season in full swing, the team is looking to improve for the fall season in order to defend its title. But ASU is also hoping to win it in its own backyard. Gorczyca as well as other triathletes most recently competed at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon and Mixed Relay American Championships, hosted in Sarasota, Florida.

“Our goal is to stay healthy and become better athletes," Gorczyca said. "As a team, we have the same goal as we did last year.” 

All of this work is for one goal according to English: To grow triathlon into a marquee NCAA sport. 

“My primary goal is still long-term … building the program and growing and establishing the sport in the NCAA," English said.


Reach the reporter at @trittenhouse34@gmail.com and follow @tritt55 on Twitter.

Like State Press Sports on Facebook and follow @statepresssport on Twitter. 


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.