ASU triathlon team junior Liberty Ricca was recently named to represent Team USA at the Junior Pan American Games, one of her biggest accomplishments in her career so far.
Ricca's accomplishments include being a part of the USA Triathlon Junior National Team from 2017-2019, being named USA Triathlon Division l Freshman of the year, as well as placing sixth at the 2019-20 National Championships, the highest overall finish for a freshman.
"I got the email that they wanted me to be a part of Team USA and compete in Colombia at the Pan-Am games," Ricca said. "I was really excited."
The Pan American Games, held from Nov. 25 to Dec. 5, will not be Ricca's first international competition as she competed for the United States Junior National Team before. Besides her recent Team USA selection, Ricca said one of her proudest moments is crossing the finish line in Switzerland at the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Lausanne, where she placed 33rd overall in the women's juniors race.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Ricca and the rest of the Sun Devil Triathlon team were unable to compete as their season was canceled. However, head coach Cliff English said he's extremely proud of Ricca as she heads to Colombia this winter to compete for Team USA.
"This reflects the hard work she's put in on being a consistent performer," English said.
Ricca's teammate, senior Kira Stanley said that she is "genuinely one of the nicest people I know. She's a very well-rounded person."
Ricca's athletic career began at a young age as she grew up swimming, biking and running like most triathletes. When she was 7 years old, she went to a triathlon clinic hosted by her swim team and discovered she enjoyed it and wanted to continue training in the sport.
"I did my first race, and I've been doing it ever since," Ricca said.
However, Ricca has had moments of doubt throughout her career and credited her family, friends and teammates for keeping her motivated to continue competing.
"I feel like every athlete and person has gone through that quarter-life crisis, I guess it's just that I do love this sport and can't imagine my life without it. My amazing support crew, my friends, family and teammates and everything about this school in general," Ricca said.
"Every day, even if I'm having a bad day, I know that I just can go to practice or something, and my teammates give me such a refresh, but my friends outside the sport give me such a mental reset. I love all of my teammates, but having people outside of athletics is really special."
Although she was recruited to ASU for triathlon, she wanted to pick a school that she knew she would enjoy regardless of whether or not she was competing.
"I had the motto, if I was unable to compete in triathlon would I still be happy here?" Ricca said. "I knew that I would still be happy at ASU."
Most recently, Ricca competed in the Under-23 competition in St. George National Qualifier on Saturday, Oct. 30 in her first Olympic-distance race where she placed third.
Ricca's overall goal for the future is to make it to the Olympics. It is her dream to be able to wear red, white and blue for Team USA on the world stage. Ricca knows continuing to practice and compete every day will help her reach that goal.
"This is one small step towards that, and hopefully the next stage is going to the Worlds level and then one day representing the USA at the actual Olympics," Ricca said.
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