Going into her last collegiate triathlon event, defending national champion and South African national team athlete Amber Schlebusch was nervous but excited to have the chance to defend her title and help her team earn its seventh straight national title.
ASU's women's triathlon team won the 2023 Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships for NCAA Division I in Tempe on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Even though Schlebusch couldn't defend her personal title, losing it to University of Denver's Maira Carreau, the Sun Devils repeated for their seventh-straight title, earning seven in the last eight years, with no event taking place in 2020.
"It's definitely the pressure that you put on yourself as an athlete to defend a title," Schlebusch said. "But I'm also excited, that’s the emotion I felt last year: extreme excitement. And it allowed me to win. So I'm really going to channel in that excitement."
After all athletes had finished and all scores had been tallied, ASU won the championship with 999 points. Behind them in second place was Queens University of Charlotte with 967 points, and in third place was the University of San Francisco with 933 points.
The race started Saturday afternoon at Tempe Town Lake with a 750-meter swim where ASU sophomore Faith Dasso earned the 12th-best swim time at 10:26. The swim was followed by a 20k bike ride, including a stretch across the Mill Avenue bridge. Top ASU finisher and second-place overall finisher sophomore Naomi Ruff had the best bike time at 34:06, with an average pace of 21.8 mph.
“I'm very proud of my bike and how I was able to put myself in a good position then to go have a good run,” Ruff said.
The race's last leg was a 5k run where Schlebusch had the best run time at 17:28, which helped finish third.
“She was really pushing it on her run," head coach Cliff English said. "She was flying."
Along with the team victory, ASU there were two Sun Devils on the podium, Ruff and Schlebusch, and had three total All-American top-seven finishers, which were Ruff, Schlebusch and sophomore Heidi Jurankova.
On top of all the hardware the Sun Devil athletes brought home, English won the Division 1 Coach of the Year award. He said he would not have been able to win without the excellent work ethic of his athletes.
"They want to learn, they want to grow, they want to be better" English said. "They're not just going to sit back and say, ‘Oh, we're good. We're winning this,’ they're like, 'Hey, coach, how can I be better? What can I do to raise my game to be, part of this team.'"
Next year, the Sun Devil team will look to repeat with an eighth national championship.
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith and Shane Brennan