Stanford sophomore Marissa Ferrante and UC Irvine graduate student Dustin McLarty outlasted nearly 1,300 competitors to take the overall titles at Saturday’s USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
A standout runner, Ferrante put together a complete race to cruise to victory on the women’s side. She lifted the tape in 2 hours, 6 minutes, 28 seconds — more than five minutes clear of the field on the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run course.
Duke’s Jenny Shaughnessy was second overall in 2:11:48 to take the women’s graduate title. Alabama-Birmingham graduate student Hallie Blunck rounded out the women’s overall podium in 2:12:18.
Illinois’ Michelle Mehnert led the women’s race out of the water with Ferrante well positioned in third place among wave one competitors. Thanks to a quick transition in T1, Ferrante overtook the leaders heading onto the bike course. She led for the majority of the 40k ride, but was pushed by Shaughnessy before carrying a 15-second lead into T2.
Ferrante, who owns a 5k personal best of 15:59, charged out of T2 and was never threatened from that point thanks to the day’s fastest 10k run split of 35:42. “I couldn’t have asked for a better race. I was really happy,” Ferrante said. “I had great competitors and good support from my Stanford team.”
McLarty was the wire-to-wire winner on the men’s side, besting his runner-up finish from a year ago to take his first collegiate national title in 1:54:33. Colorado graduate student Rudy Kahsar — the 2011 champion — was second in 1:54:59, while collegiate newcomer Ben Kanute of Arizona placed third in 1:55:08 to take the undergraduate men’s title.
An All-American swimmer as an undergraduate at Florida, McLarty was the class of the field on the swim with a 17:04 1,500m split. He led the race by 45 seconds out of the water and held onto that advantage for much of the day. Midway through the bike, McLarty held a 40-second lead on Kanute, with Kahsar sitting third.
McLarty extended his lead to nearly a minute over Kanute and 1:30 over Kahsar, who got back into the race with a 58:37 bike split, entering T2. Kanute quickly made up 20 seconds on McLarty, but could not pull any closer on the run. Kahsar eventually overtook Kanute to grab his second straight top-two finish. A year ago, McLarty also crossed the finish line just ahead of Kahsar but was assessed a two-minute penalty for a position violation on the bike, dropping him to second place.
“I broke them after the first turn buoy and I was able to get about a 40-second gap in the water,” McLarty said. “That’s exactly what I wanted so that I was out of site for most of the bike. … I held that lead through the bike, got to the run and it was just a matter of gritting your teeth and going for it at that point.”
For the third straight year, Colorado convincingly claimed the overall team title with 100 points. The U.S. Naval Academy was second with 259, while California was third with 267. Team scores are tallied by combining the finishing positions of each school’s top four men’s and women’s finishers.
Colorado captured the women’s team title with 75 points, outdistancing runner-up Duke by just six points. California took third with 103 points on the women’s side.
CU placed its top four athletes in the top 14 finishers of the men’s race to tally just 25 points and take the men’s championship title. Arizona was second with 123 points, and the U.S. Military Academy took third with 149.
Once the Collegiate National Championship events wrapped, many athletes raced for the second time on the day in the first-ever collegiate draft-legal Mixed Team Relay. Cal posted a convincing win with an overall combined time of 1:26:33 to best second-place Stanford. Each athlete completed a 250m swim, 6k bike and 1.6k run, with the exception of the leadoff athlete, who swam 275m to open the race.
After Ferrante gave Stanford a 30-second lead following the opening leg, Cal moved in front thanks to Nicholas Halkowski on the second leg. The Golden Bears’ lead then slowly increased with Yoni Doron-Peters crossing the finish line nearly two minutes clear of Stanford.
“It was awesome. To win the first relay ever at Collegiate Nationals is an amazing accomplishment for us,” Doron-Peters said. “It was all the team. All I had to do was to not crash on the bike, not cramp on the run and that’s it.”
Kanute posted the top split among all relay competitors with a time of 19:12, which was more than a minute faster than any other athlete. Ferrante had the top women’s split with a time of 21:11 to tie for ninth overall regardless of gender.
“It means a lot, and I’m just so happy that USA Triathlon has this event,” Ferrante said about competing at such a high level on a national stage. “Triathlon has such a great atmosphere. It’s a sport I love to see at the collegiate level, and I can’t want to see how it progresses in future years.”
2012 USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship
(1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run)
1. Marissa Ferrante (Stanford), 2:06:28
2. Jenny Shaughnessy (Duke), 2:11:48
3. Hallie Blunck (Alabama-Birmingham), 2:12:18
4. Christine Farson (California), 2:13:12
5. Samantha Morrison (U.S. Air Force Academy), 2:14:03
6. Erika Erickson (California), 2:14:13
7. Kathrine Warren (UC Santa Barbara), 2:15:02
8. Chelsea Koglmeier (Duke), 2:15:58
9. Jessica Hafey (U.S. Naval Academy), 2:17:49
10. Elizabeth Baugher (Texas A&M), 2:18:01
1. Dustin McLarty (UC Irvine), 1:54:33
2. Rudy Kahsar (Colorado), 1:54:59
3. Ben Kanute (Arizona), 1:55:08
4. Ryan Bice (UC Colorado Springs), 1:55:10
5. Drew Scott (Colorado), 1:56:42
6. Chris Braden (Colorado), 1:57:22
7. Colin Riley (Florida State), 1:57:49
8. James McCurdy (Auburn), 1:58:57
9. Alex Libin (Iowa), 1:59:14
10. Jason West (Penn State), 1:59:39
About USA Triathlon
Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon – one of the fastest growing sports in the world – as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. USA Triathlon sanctions 4,000 races and connects with more than 150,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including ITU World Championships, Pan American Games and the Summer Olympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the International Triathlon Union and the United States Olympic Committee.
Courtesy of usatriathalon.org