Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina, Adds Women’s Triathlon as Varsity Sport

By USA Triathlon | Dec. 16, 2019, 5:02 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced that Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina is the 32nd school in the nation, and the 13th at the NCAA Division II level, to add women’s triathlon to its varsity sport offerings. The inaugural team will begin competing in the fall of 2020.

The school is the fourth in North Carolina to offer women’s triathlon at the varsity level, joining Belmont Abbey College (DII) in Belmont, Guilford College (DIII) in Greensboro and Queens University of Charlotte (DII).

“USA Triathlon is proud to welcome Lenoir-Rhyne to the women’s collegiate triathlon family as we continue to make progress on the road to full-fledged NCAA Championship status,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “The team will benefit from local competition with three other North Carolina schools, as well as a strong regional presence among several thriving east-coast programs.”

The addition of women’s triathlon as Lenoir-Rhyne’s 23rd varsity sport is made possible through a grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation. The USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the varsity level.

“Women’s triathlon is an increasingly popular college sport, and we are excited to add it in the fall,” said Kim Pate, Vice President of Athletics at Lenoir-Rhyne. “I want to thank USA Triathlon for its support in bringing women's triathlon to LR."

Lenoir-Rhyne joins nine other varsity programs located in USA Triathlon’s Mideast Region: Belmont Abbey; Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V., DII); Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va., DIII); East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn., DI); Guilford; Hampton University (Hampton, Va., DI); King University (Bristol, Tenn., DII); Queens; and Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky., DIII).

Lenoir-Rhyne will also add men’s triathlon as a club sport.

The NCAA named triathlon an Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, a designation that gives USA Triathlon a 10-year window to demonstrate the sport’s sustainability at the NCAA level by recruiting at least 40 varsity programs. The governing body is now more than three-quarters of the way to that goal with momentum on its side, as 24 schools have added the sport since January of 2017.

Women’s triathlon is a fall sport, and the varsity season includes three Regional Qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships. Races are sprint-distance, featuring a 750-meter open-water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.

For more information about triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, visit usatriathlon.org/ncaa. For questions regarding women’s collegiate triathlon events and programming, contact Jessica Welk at Jessica.welk@usatriathlon.org

Interested in helping to identify and recruit the next women’s varsity collegiate triathlon program? Inquiries may be directed to Tim Yount, USA Triathlon Chief Sport Development Officer, at Tim.yount@usatriathlon.org

Women’s Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs (as of Dec. 16, 2019):

NCAA Division I 
Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.) 
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.) 
Hampton University (Hampton, Va.) 
University of San Francisco (San Francisco. Calif.) 
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.) 
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.) 

NCAA Division II 

American International College (Springfield, Mass.)
Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.) 
Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.) 
Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo.) 
Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.) 
Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V.) 
Drury University (Springfield, Mo.) 
Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory, N.C.)
King University (Bristol, Tenn.) 
Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont.) 
Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) 
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.) 
Southern Wesleyan University (Central, S.C.) 

NCAA Division III 
Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Mich.) 
Central College (Pella, Iowa)
Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.) 
Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.)
Guilford College (Greensboro, N.C.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.) 
Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.) 
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) 
Northern Vermont University-Johnson (Johnson, Vt.) 
Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.) 
Trine University (Angola, Ind.) 
Willamette University (Salem, Ore.)

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).