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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

TriCats seek top-10 finish at nationals

The Arizona Triathlon Club, better known as the TriCats, is back at the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships in hopes of improving upon last year’s 12th-place finish.

“”We’re pretty excited,”” said club president Matt Ward. “”Everybody’s been working really hard this year and improving from last year. I think we’re going to have a really good showing (at nationals).””

Over 100 schools will be competing, and over 1,000 student-athletes are expected to be on hand in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday.

Thirteen members of the TriCats — seven men and six women — will be competing in the nationals race, while 10 other TriCats will compete in a sprint race held separately.

Ward said that the strength of this year’s team lies in its depth and believes that if the team performs to its capabilities, a top-10 finish is possible.

“”(A top-10 finish is) our goal,”” he said. “”It’s what we set out to do at the beginning of the year.””

While the team’s depth is good, both the men and women have their weaknesses. The team will try to combat those weaknesses with strong performances in what they do best.

“”I think the men will do the most damage on the bike,”” said sophomore Neil Segel, who joined the club before official practices began his freshman year. “”We have a really good cycling community, and we’ve taken advantage of that over the year. The women will be huge in swim. They’re going to be some of the fastest.””

The TriCats will know some of their competition, as they competed against several teams earlier this year at the Mountain Collegiate Triathlon Conference Championships at the Lake Havasu Triathlon. The women placed third overall, and the men placed seventh overall in the collegiate races.

The weather forecast is not promising for the race. As of yesterday, there was a 60 percent chance of thunder showers in Lubbock, according to weather.com. The TriCats, however, are not unfamiliar with rainy competitions. Earlier this year, the team competed in the rain during the TriCats Polar Splash and Dash Aquathlon and the Desert Classic Duathlon and “”did really well.””

Segel and his teammates will compete no matter the weather conditions.

“”We’ll push through (the weather),”” Segel said. “”It’ll be more epic, that’s for sure.””

For the past three weeks, head coach Brian Grasky has had the team on a taper to conserve its strength for nationals. Segel has done as much as 25 hours of training some weeks, but was limited to five hours this week.

The TriCats left for nationals on Thursday, and the excitement of the team was at a high.

“”Each one of our hearts is pounding,”” Segel said. “”Our president, (Matt Ward), and vice president, (Michael Shufeldt), had their speeches ready. They’re going to be epic. We’re all really pumped.””

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