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Emmanuel College to Transition Women’s Collegiate Club Triathlon Team to Varsity Status

By USA Triathlon | Dec. 04, 2020, 3:41 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon, along with Emmanuel College Director of Athletics, Nate Moorman, today announced that Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia, will move women’s triathlon from club to varsity status. Emmanuel will become the 36th school to offer women’s triathlon at the varsity level. The men’s and women’s triathlon teams have been competing at the collegiate club level since 2014. Now elevated to varsity status, the women will compete at the NCAA Division II level in the fall of 2021.

Emmanuel is the first in the state of Georgia to compete at the varsity level and the 15th NCAA DII program to do so — the most represented NCAA division in varsity women’s triathlon. The school joins fellow Conference Carolinas members Belmont Abbey College  and King University as varsity level competitors in women’s triathlon. 

The Emmanuel women’s triathlon team has been successful at the collegiate club level, racing at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships from 2015-2018 and earning the team title at the 2016 Early Bird Sprint Triathlon at the University of Georgia.

“Emmanuel College has produced successful triathletes at the collegiate club level for the past several years, with consistent appearances at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “We are now pleased to welcome Emmanuel to the varsity women’s triathlon family, and we look forward to watching these student-athletes thrive in the draft-legal racing format.”   

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 quickly approaching that goal with momentum on its side. Four schools have added women’s triathlon since March of 2020 and 36 schools have done so since 2014. 

Emmanuel College is a recipient of the USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant, awarded by the USA Triathlon Foundation to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the varsity level. 

Emmanuel’s head swim coach, Allen Gilchrest, will continue to coach the Emmanuel triathlon programs. The women will compete at the NCAA varsity level. The men will remain at the club level, as the NCAA does not yet sponsor men’s varsity triathlon.

Gilchrest has an extensive endurance sports background, including competing in Olympic-distance triathlons as an elite triathlete. He has completed five marathons, qualifying for the Boston Marathon twice. As a triathlon coach, Gilchrest has coached one collegiate male student-athlete to the Age Group Triathlon World Championships and one female triathlete to a top-10 age-group finish at the IRONMAN World Championship.

“I started the varsity swim team at Emmanuel in 2013,” Gilchrest said. “That same year, Emmanuel started a five-year process to transition from NAIA to NCAA DII. During this transition, NCAA rules prohibited us from participating in any swimming national championships. For this reason, we were looking to give our student-athletes a way to compete at the national level. We decided to encourage our athletes to compete in the Collegiate Open Water 5K National Championships and the Collegiate Triathlon National Championships. Emmanuel earned full NCAA DII membership in 2018, but EC swimmers and runners continue to compete at these national championships and other triathlon events. We are very excited at the possibility of competing at the varsity NCAA DII level at the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships in the fall of 2021, and we are thankful for the many blessings of opportunity God has given our team.”

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. The 2020 Women’s Collegiate Triathlon championship season was canceled due to COVID-19, but USA Triathlon is supporing a modified spring 2021 season that includes several regional and intra-squad racing opportunities. 

For more information about triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, visit usatriathlon.org/ncaa. 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. 4, 2020): 

NCAA Division I (9)

Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.) 
Delaware State University (Dover, Del.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.) 
Hampton University (Hampton, Va.) 
Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Texas)
University of Denver (Denver, Colo.)
University of San Francisco (San Francisco. Calif.) 
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.) 
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.) 

NCAA Division II (15)

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.) 
Emmanuel College (Franklin Springs, Ga.)
King University (Bristol, Tenn.) 
Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory, N.C.)
Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont.) 
Newberry College (Newberry, S.C.)
Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) 
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.) 
Wingate University (Wingate, N.C.)

NCAA Division III (12)
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.) 
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 World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).