CLEMSON, S.C. — The first collegiate titles of the weekend were awarded on Friday at Campus beach as Mike Meehan from Penn State and Brittany Warly from Colorado topped the field of more than 100 athletes who toed the line of the USA Triathlon Draft-Legal Collegiate Championships.
Covering a 750-meter swim, 19.6-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course that featured draft-legal tactics on the bike, Meehan clocked in at 53 minutes, 16 seconds to earn the men’s title. It is Meehan’s second USA Triathlon national title and first collegiate triathlon title, and it is the second-straight men’s Draft-Legal Collegiate Championships title for Penn State, coming on the heels of Jason West’s win last year. Colorado’s Dan Feeney took second in 53:32, and John Felix picked up the bronze for Clemson in 53:45.
The draft-legal bike made all the difference for Meehan, who came out of the water in 15th place after California’s Greg Harper set the pace. Though Meehan trailed by roughly 10 seconds at the start of the bike, he was part of a pack that worked to reach the leaders, and the front pack swelled to more than 15 athletes. By the second transition, Meehan was up by a few seconds on the field and never lost his advantage as he ran his way to victory.
“My training has been going really well,” Meehan said. “I knew that I was in good form, I just had to make sure that I came into T2 first because that’s where a lot of people make the mistake coming in too far back. I thought it was within reach, but I knew everything had to be executed perfectly.”
In the women’s race, Warly surged ahead on the run to clinch the women’s title in 1:00:34 after finishing second in this event last year. It is Warly’s first individual USA Triathlon national title, though she has been a member of the six-time national champion University of Colorado Buffalos Triathlon Team. Erika Ackerlund of Montana was second after a gutsy solo ride on the bike, finishing in 1:01:12, and UCLA's Kelly Kosmo was third in 1:01:47.
Warly was within reach of the lead at the early part of the race, coming out of the water in eighth as Shelley Harper from Duke led the charge. While Ackerlund made a break on the bike to enter the second transition with a nearly 40 second advantage, Warly hung in the chasing group and made her move on the early part of the run. Her run split was the fastest of the day and gave her a solid margin of victory to set Colorado on track to defend their team title.
“I don’t really go into races expecting to win,” Warly said. “It’s more like executing and having a good swim. It’s amazing [to help Colorado earn points]. It’s huge. It was really nice to have back up this year. I had Heidi [Stimac] doing the race -- a freshman on our team. That was really nice because last year I had to race alone. Being able to contribute and doing well the first day puts our team in a good position for the second day.”
Warly will get the chance to race again on Saturday, as will Meehan and a field of 1,300 collegiate triathletes who are registered for the traditional Olympic-distance race at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships weekend. Covering a 1,500m swim, 40k bike and 10k run, the race will help teams secure men’s, women’s and overall team titles. The women’s race will start at 7:30 a.m. ET, followed by the men at 10:35 a.m. ET.
Coverage of Saturday’s race, as well as recaps of Friday’s action, can be found at usatriathlon.org/usatcn16coverage.
Then, the Mixed Team Relay at 4:15 p.m. will close out the weekend, with nearly 60 teams represented. Each four-person team must consist of two females and two males who will complete a super-sprint triathlon before tagging their teammate. All athletes will complete a 250m swim, 4.1k bike and 1.2k run.
Visit usatriathlon.org/usatcn16 for more information on Collegiate Nationals.
2016 USA Triathlon Draft-Legal Collegiate Championships
750m swim, 19.6k bike, 5k run
Men's Top 5
1. Mike Meehan (Penn State), 53:16
2. Dan Feeney (Colorado), 53:32
3. John Felix (Clemson), 53:45
4. Dylan Morgan (West Point), 54:03
5. Michael Arishita (Texas A&M), 54:11
Women's Top 5
1. Brittany Warly (Colorado), 1:00:34
2. Erika Ackerlund (Montana), 1:01:12
3. Kelly Kosmo (UCLA), 1:01:47
4. Melissa Rios La Luz (Webber International), 1:02:44
5. Melissa Teeple (Marymount), 1:02:53