Duke Triathlon Club Collegiate Nationals Report
By Brad Pansing
On Thursday April 7, 2011 sixteen Duke undergrads, graduate students, and employees packed their bikes, gear and themselves onto a charter bus for the day long journey to USAT Collegiate Triathlon nationals in Tuscaloosa, AL. For 6 of the 13 Olympic distance athletes, this was to be their first Olympic distance triathlon. Friday was an anxious day of swim practice in the frigid Black Warrior River; pre race fueling and overall preparation to compete. The men started out with a 1500m swim in the 62 degree Black Warrior River. Taylor Knight and Ross Taggart performed exceptionally well with split times of 21:39.0 and 22:56.1 respectively. After a long run to transition, the guys destroyed the bike with Robert Ferris coming in with a time of 1:01:54 followed by James Zhou, Taylor Knight, and Daniel Haughton with times of 1:03:40; 1:05:15; and 1:09:14 respectively. The sun emerged and started to really bake the racers during the run where Robert Ferris had a split time of 37:38.0 followed by Taylor Knight with a run time of 40:00.0, James Zhou (42:02.0) and Tong Xiang (43:10.0). Robert Ferris finished with an overall place of 38; Taylor Knight in 66th, James Zhou in 137th, Daniel Haughton in 199th, Matthew Lewis in 393rd, Ross Taggart in 416th, and Tong Xiang in 531st. This was a particularly strong showing for Daniel Haughton since this is his debut year on the triathlon scene. Overall the men’s team finished in 16th place.
It was hot by the time the women started at 10am. Chelsea Koglmeier was exceptionally strong in the swim with a split of 22:53.1, followed by Andrea Martin (24:08.0), Allie Middleton and Michelle Sanchez. Chelsea Koglmeier was riding exceptionally strong and looking at a top 10 finish until a misfortunately timed dropped chain caused a crash. Despite this unfortunate accident, Ms. Koglmeier was able to get back on the bike and finish with a split time of 1:12:48, followed by Andrea Martin (1:19:50), Allie Middleton, and Michelle Sanchez. By the time the young ladies hit the run, the air temperature had risen to a grueling 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Chelsea Koglmeier finished the run for a split of 45:50.94, followed by Allie Middleton (52:26.0), Andrea Martin, and Michelle Sanchez. Chelsea Koglmeier finished 19th overall (15th for undergraduate females) with a time of 2:23:43. Andrea Martin followed with a time of 2:51:18 and placed 110th overall (30th for graduate females). Allie Middleton finished 177th and Michelle Sanchez finished 378th. The womens team placed 27th in the overall team competition.
The individual sprint race started at the heat of the day at 12:30 with 92-degree air temperature. Duke employee Ashley Yeager destroyed the course and won the female alumni division. Rookie Bradley Pansing finished 44th in the undergraduate division (56th overall) followed by fellow rookie Greg Evans who placed 133rd overall.
The team had a great time, and learned a lot, especially the need to stay hydrated for all the legs of the race in extreme heat. For many people this was there first Olympic distance triathlon and trip to nationals, which will surely inspire them to train harder and perform stronger when they return next year.