Last weekend, over 1,000 of the best collegiate triathletes arrived in Lake Lanier, Georgia to compete in the 2023 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships. 80 different college clubs were represented in the competition, which was being hosted by Empower Multisport for the second consecutive time by USA Triathlon.
A team from GMTM.com, which has helped grow the sport of triathlon on the college level through a digital event, also arrived at the race site to document the athletes in person.
One of the nation’s most high-energy triathlon events, USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships kicked off today in Lake Lanier 🤩🔥— USA Triathlon (@usatriathlon) April 15, 2023
Congratulations to Rollie Grinder of @uarizona and Ben Bettin of @CUBoulder who secured the Draft-Legal national title 🥇 #USATCN pic.twitter.com/RwNKnJJaeb
The setting at Georgia's Lake Lanier provided ideal conditions for the hundreds of athletes, coaches, and spectators who attended. Race Director, Todd Gollnick, described the setting as such on the event website:
"The calm waters of Lake Lanier should provide some fast swim splits. The Draft Legal & Mixed Relay bike and run courses are contained on the island and were designed to be fast-paced and spectator friendly. The Olympic bike will take you through the rolling hills of Buford GA and return to the island for a 6.2-mile run through the manicured grounds. All races will finish adjacent to the beach, and “spirit central” where University Team Zones will be located."
The USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships has become the premier event for one of the newest collegiate sports - which is not yet an NCAA sport. Since USA Triathlon began using GMTM for talent identification, the number of college triathlon clubs around the country has grown to around 190.
As for how each of the races played out, it was the team from Queens University in Charlotte that earned the overall team title, with 102 total points across all 5 of the events. The title would be the second in a row for Queen’s College, who also claimed the team title in 2019. Two other powerhouse programs finished second and third respectively - the University of California-Berkeley (162 points) and the University of Colorado-Boulder (241).
Total Team Results from USA Triathlon:
- Queens University of Charlotte 102 points
- University of California-Berkeley 162
- University of Colorado-Boulder 241
- United States Naval Academy 308
- Colorado State University 492
Despite the growing number of competitors in the event, the National Championships would still come down to a few athletes able to claim a national title in five different events.
Draft-Legal - Friday, April 14th
On Friday morning, the Men’s and Women’s Draft Legal Championship races were run. In draft-legal races, the athletes are able to ride their bikes directly behind other competitors to reduce wind resistance and save energy.
Up to 75 men and 75 women raced in each event, which includes a 750-meter swim, 21-kilometer bike, and 5-kilometer run course. The draft-legal racing format, which enables athletes to ride in packs and work together on the bike, is similar to the racing style contested in elite World Triathlon events and the Olympic Games.
The third-place finishers, the CU Triathlon Team, were led by senior Ben Bettin, who won both the Men’s Draft-Legal and Olympic Distance titles. Bettin also won both of the events at the 2022 Collegiate Club National Championships.
Men’s Draft-Legal Results from USA Triathlon:
- Ben Bettin (University of Colorado-Boulder), 56:33
- Jake Baugher (Queens University of Charlotte), 57:22
- Niall Caley (Queens University of Charlotte), 57:41
- Jonathan McKinley (University of California-Berkeley), 57:46
- Luis Steiert (Wingate University), 58:05
Rollie Grinder of the University of Arizona won the Women’s Draft-Legal event. It was Grinder’s first national championship win.
Women’s Draft-Legal Results from USA Triathlon:
- Rollie Grinder (University of Arizona), 1:03:24
- Kathyrn Kennedy (University of California-Berkely), 1:04:00
- Katharina Krosta (Queens University of Charlotte), 1:04:31
- Eli Walz (United States Naval Academy), 1:05:02
- Alexandra Poole (Duke University), 1:05:48
Olympic Distance - Saturday, April 15th
On Saturday morning, the Men’s and Women’s Olympic distance Championship races were run. The Olympic triathlon comprises a 1.5km swim, a 40km bike ride, and a 10km run.
Sweet, sweet victory 🥇— USA Triathlon (@usatriathlon) April 16, 2023
Congratulations to Eli Walz of @NavalAcademy and Ben Bettin of @CUBoulder for taking the Olympic-distance national title at the 2023 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships! #USATCN pic.twitter.com/aV1FtvyJOj
On the men’s side, Bettin of Colorado would finish first on Saturday, more than a minute faster than Queen’s University’s Alejandro Dominguez.
Men’s Olympic-Distance Results from USA Triathlon:
- Ben Bettin (University of Colorado-Boulder), 1:50:14
- Alejandro Dominguez (Queens University of Charlotte), 1:51:40
- Luis Steiert (Wingate University), 1:52:38
- Niall Caley (Queens University of Charlotte), 1:53:13
- Jake Baugher (Queens University of Charlotte), 1:53:23
The Naval Academy’s Eli Walz would claim the Women’s title, representing one of the four service academies who fielded teams last weekend - also including the Coast Guard, Military (West Point), and Air Force.
Women’s Olympic-Distance Results from USA Triathlon:
- Eli Walz (United States Naval Academy), 2:05:30
- Rollie Grinder (University of Arizona), 2:06:50
- Kathryn Kennedy (University of California-Berkeley), 2:07:31
- Paige Kouba (University of California-Davis), 2:10:29
- Emma MacDonald (West Point Triathlon Club), 2:10:35
Mixed-Relay - Sunday, April 16th
On Sunday morning, the Mixed Relay Championship was held. Four athletes are on a team representing an individual college club. Each athlete completes a super sprint triathlon, which includes a 300m swim, approx 6.6km bike and 1km run. After one team member finishes, they tag a teammate who begins their triathlon. The fastest cumulative time for the team of four would be named National Champions.
Often, the race comes down to a sprint finish. The fast, exciting and spectator-friendly Mixed Relay discipline debuted as a medal event at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, with the U.S. team winning the silver medal.
Mixed-Relay Results from USA Triathlon:
- University of California-Berkeley (1:03:51)
- Queens University of Charlotte (1:04:01)
- United States Naval Academy (1:04:08)
- Colorado State University (1:07:58)
- Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo (1:09:49)