(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
ST. GEORGE, Utah – The Montana State University Billings women’s triathlon team sent four athletes to the recent NCAA National Qualifier, but only Madisan Chavez qualified for the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships after placing 17th among Division II competition (44th overall) in St. George, Utah Saturday.
“This was a good learning race for us,” MSUB women’s triathlon head coach Kevin Bjerke said. “It was a good eye-opener of how important the swim is in order to get with some good cycling groups. Getting stronger and more confident in the open water will certainly be a focus, but that is not surprising given how new our freshman are to the sport.”
Chavez led the way for the ‘Jackets, covering the course in 1:22:06. After the race results were calculated, Chavez ranked fifth amongst Division II at-large qualifiers for nationals. The top 20 individuals that aren’t on the top eight qualifying teams will round out the field at the national championships, which will be held at the Tempe Town Lake in Tempe, Ariz. on Nov. 13.
Additionally, Chavez was the only MSUB finisher due to the lap-out rule in draft-legal races, which means once a cyclist is lapped by anyone in the field, they must stop. Three of the ‘Jackets saw their race end early: Izzy Siegle’s fall on the bike set her back, then Ally Whitmer and Kylee Halpin closed out the race on the bike because of the aforementioned lap-out rule. All told, Bjerke said the race was a good experience for the newcomers on the team, as they look to improve in the water from here on out.
“We knew coming in that it would take a really good swim to stay on the lead lap with some tough, Division I competition,” Bjerke said. “But it was good for the girls to gain this experience.”
Division I University of San Francisco swept the top two finishers, as teammates Kira Gupta-Baltazar and Gillian Cridge finished 21 seconds apart at 1:04:31 and 1:04:52, respectively. Drury’s Jayme Vermaas was the top D2 finisher; she placed eleventh with a 1:09:10.