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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


TriCats record highest finish in team history

Courtesy of The University of Arizona TriCats Triathlon Team UA Freshman Benjamin Kanute en route to a 3rd place overall, first place undergraduate finish in the Olympic-distance morning race. In the afternoon’s mixed gender four-person relay race, he posted the fastest individual time, 1min25sec faster than the nearest competitor. He qualified for his professional license.

The UA TriCats made it count when it mattered most.

The team recorded its highest combined finish, and a freshman member highlighted the team’s accomplishments with his own personal best accomplishment, on April 21 at the USA Triathlon Colligate National Championship in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The men’s team finished second and the women’s team finished 18th. Combined, Arizona placed eighth overall, the highest the TriCats have ever finished.

Along with the team’s placement, freshman Ben Kanute registered his fastest time ever with a 1:55:08 finish at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, good enough for third place overall. His time won him the undergraduate portion of the Olympic distance race — 1,500-m swim, 40k bike and 10k run.

“When I saw them out there putting everything in there, it was hard to recognize them,” said head coach Brian Grasky. “You could see in their eyes that they had every single ounce of energy going into it.”

Grasky said he wasn’t expecting Kanute’s accomplishment or the team’s overall effort. The TriCats had dealt with injuries and did not have a full squad racing in either of its two previous events, which were held earlier this semester.

“I’m still on cloud nine from it,” Grasky said. “I’ve been a coach for 10 years and I’ve never seen such hard work out of a collection of people at this nationals. The amount that they put into it, you could see the pain on their faces.”

Grasky said the team more than met expectations, as he expected the TriCats to finish anywhere from third to fifth place after the race. He said Kanute’s accomplishment was a big reason why the team was able to place so high.

The two racers that beat Kanute are both graduate students and about five years older than him. Rudy Kahsar, from Colorado, took second place just nine seconds ahead of Kanute. Ryan Bice, from UC Colorado Springs, finished just two seconds behind Kanute for fourth place.

“The two athletes that were ahead of me were very talented, and the ones right behind me too,” Kanute said. “It was a good experience and an honor to stand on top of the podium.”

Neil Segel, who has been on the TriCats for four years, said Kanute’s presence changed the team’s attitude in training this season.

“I think all the guys and gals on the team felt like we had to live up to Ben’s expectations because he’s a guy that’s coming to UA when he could have gone to a faster school, and he chose to come here and we have to honor his presence,” Segel said.

Kanute had won two junior national titles while racing in his hometown in Illinois, and Grasky said it was the freshman’s pedigree that pushed the team to go farther than their expectations this year.

“It did push the team. It gave the team excitement to know that he was doing well in support of the team,” Grasky said. “People like to see him there, they like to see his talent along with the rest of the team.

“He wasn’t overshadowed by the rest of team members,” Grasky said. “It really was the whole team, but Ben played an important role.”
Kanute, though, said the TriCats exceeded his expectations as much as he helped to push theirs.

“Coming into this school, I didn’t expect the Tri-team to be as good as it is right now,” Kanute said. “Everybody surprised me with how hard they work and the talent on the team. To get second to the (Colorado) Tri-team, which has a pool of people that is 10 times our size, it’s a really great accomplishment to do that.”

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