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Tricats conquer the challenging sport of triathlon

Rollie+Grinder%2C+a+member+of+Arizona+Tricats%2C+placed+first+in+the+sprint+distance+race+and+second+in+the+Olympic+distance+race+at+last+year%E2%80%99s+national+triathlon+competition.+%28Courtesy+Arizona+Tricats%29
Rollie Grinder, a member of Arizona Tricats, placed first in the sprint distance race and second in the Olympic distance race at last year’s national triathlon competition. (Courtesy Arizona Tricats)

The University of Arizona’s club triathlon team has made a name for itself in the sport’s national space, being listed as one of the top 10 college club triathlon teams in the U.S.

The UA has many different club sports, but perhaps one of the most challenging ones is the Tricats. The Tricats are a triathlon team that compete in different races during the fall and spring semesters. 

The triathlon is made more difficult by its merging of different athletic events, requiring competitors to be skilled in each one. 

“It’s a combination of three different sports. It starts with a swim and then it goes to a bike and then it finishes with a run. All triathlon events are run consecutively, so there’s no break in between. It’s all one event,head coach of Tricats Johnathan Grinder said. 

The races that the team competes in also vary by distance. There are different types of triathlon distances that the Tricats compete in. 

“We’ll do a sprint distance like a 700 yard swim, a 12 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run. Olympic distance is a 1600 yard swim, a 24 mile bike and a 6.2 mile run,” Vice President of Tricats Blake Peiffer said. 

At the university there is both a UA women’s triathlon team and a club triathlon team. Despite not being apart of the universities triathlon team, the Tricats club team has been able to have a great deal of success. 

In late September, the club team was featured in the popular triathlon magazineTriathlete,” as one of the top ten club triathlon teams in the United States. This success was proved last year when the team went to nationals. Rollie Grinder, a graduate student pursuing a PhD in ecology and environmental biology and Johnathan Grinder’s daughter, was able to place first in the sprint distance race and second in the Olympic distance race

“I started around two years ago and I first started socially. I showed up to practice and just got a feel for it. I also swam in college. Last year I decided to really go for it and ramp up my training. I ended up going to nationals, which was in Georgia, with high expectations but no fear of whether they were met or not,” Rollie Grinder said. “I ended up doing pretty well. I won the sprint triathlon and then got second in the Olympic distance which was really really cool. It was fun to see some hard work pay off.”

The Tricats have a wide variety of members with different athletic experience within their club. Some athletes, like Rollie Grinder, are competing at the national level, while others just joined the club this year and competed in their first race back in October. 

“Maybe one-third to one-half of our team had their first triathlon. They went from little to no experience in August when they joined to doing their first race in October like six weeks later,” Peiffer said. 

As the Tricats move into the spring season, they have set big goals.

“We were hoping to get into the top 10, that’s our goal this year. Last year it was more about gaining experience and getting everybody out on the field to see how they can matchup nationally. Now we’re building up to that goal,” Rollie Grinder said. 

Membership to join the Tricats is open during the first two weeks of each semester. The Tricats host a 36-hour bike ride on the UA Mall at the beginning of each semester to promote the club and drum up membership. 

“It’s a lot more accessible than people think. Just because you don’t know how to swim or maybe don’t know how to bike it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a part of the team as a runner, or that you can’t be a part of the team as just someone that likes to be on bikes,” Rollie Grinder said. “We have practices for everybody. I definitely encourage anybody that’s interested in pursuing any part of the sport, or just being on a team to come by and check it out.”


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