BOULDER, Colo. — With a second place finish this April at Nationals in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, CU’s incredible streak of eight straight collegiate club triathlon titles was finally put to an end.
For the Buffaloes, the completion of the streak was not necessarily grounds for disappointment. Instead, it was a cause for positive reflection on a run of unparalleled dominance at the collegiate level.
“Our streak alone is more wins than any other team, combined, has had,” CU assistant coach Leigh Dodd — who has been with the team since the beginning of the streak — said. “One of the ways I thought about it was that my seniors graduating this year hadn’t even started high school when we started this streak.”
Many athletes who came and went through the program never even knew the feeling of losing. The accomplishment of a national championship every year never got old.
“Every year, it’s just as exciting,” CU senior Paisley Sheehan said. “It’s something that I’m very lucky to have been a part of. It’s evidence of all the hard work we’ve put in.”
It took an impressive performance from Navy to finally dethrone the eight-time defending champions this year. It was the first time Colorado was not at the very top of the podium since 2009.
“You don’t want to be a part of the team that broke the streak,” CU graduating senior Steven Kyker said. “But, being on the team that broke the streak, we actually took it very well. It was like this relief off our shoulders that we don’t have to keep this streak anymore. We can go back next year and try to start a new streak, and a new legacy.”
Not to mention, the title of second best team in the entire country isn’t too shabby.
“I’m extremely proud of what our team accomplished this year,” CU head coach Brad Seng said. “Every year presents new challenges and hurdles that each team faces, and I was really pleased with how our kids navigated that.”
Seng came to CU and took over at the helm midway through the streak, and has continued to oversee the team’s incredible success ever since.
“We, from a coaching perspective, never came into a year saying that our goal was to win a national championship,” Seng said. “Winning is fun. We would like to do more of that. But ultimately, it was about getting our student athletes to have fun with the process and embrace what we were doing.”
In a sport that continues to grow across the United States, there were more than 120 collegiate clubs competing at the 2018 National Championships this year. The sheer number of schools taking part in the event makes Colorado’s run at the top that much more impressive.
That, coupled with the fact that clubs like Navy and the University of California, Berkeley, have established themselves as powerhouses in the collegiate triathlon community, makes CU reclaiming its place as the top club in the nation in 2019 a difficult challenge. It is one the Buffaloes are up for.
“This has made everyone bond even more,” Dodd said. “Everyone was like, ‘How can we make this team better?’ It wasn’t, ‘How can I get better?’ It was, ‘How can we make this team better, so we can take back our championship?’”