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‘Jackets compete in first draft-legal Triathlon at NCAA West Region Qualifier

Courtesy: MSUB Sports Information.
Courtesy: MSUB Sports Information.
By Spencer Martin

Editor’s note: This is a release from MSU Billings Sports Information.

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. – The Montana State University Billings triathletes faced their first ever collegiate-only field on Sunday at the NCAA West Region Qualifier, contested at the Rocky Point Recreation Area in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. The West Regional was also the Jacket’s first draft-legal event of the season, the standard format for NCAA competitions.

Six teams and one collegiate club individual converged on the Belle Fourche Reservoir, including University South Dakota and Arizona State of Division I, Black Hills State University, Colorado Mesa University and MSU Billings of Division II, and Northern Vermont University of Division III.

Freshmen Madisan Chavez led the Jackets, completing her 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run in 1:16.14. Chavez finished seconds behind Northern Vermont’s top finisher to place 12th among DII competitors and 24th overall. Sophomore Madalyn Terwilliger was not far behind in 1:24:38. She passed a BHSU competitor during the second half of the run to finish 14th in DII and 26th overall. It was the MSUB’s first taste of draft-legal racing this season.

“We are just breaking through new barriers every day as a startup program, from our first triathlon, to adjusting to clip-in bike shoes, to quick transitions, to draft-legal tactics, to wetsuit swimming in a cold lake,” commented head coach Kevin Bjerke. “I am so impressed with how well these ladies are handling the constant learning curve. Unfortunately, today we were not able to take advantage of any drafting and we were just too spread out and off the pack to catch a draft group. Drafting would have been a big advantage today and certainly would have shaved several minutes off the bike, but I look forward to getting stronger in the water to put us in a better position to start the bike leg.”

Competing with the race course conditions, measurements and weather are all variable factors from race to race in triathlon so while competitors are racing the clock and each other, they also have to deal with these outside forces.

“Even though it was a smaller field, it was a still high level triathlon,” Bjerke said. “There was great competition today with a well measured course. After we got so spread out, you have to shift a bit of your focus from competing with others to competing with yourself and the clock. I was proud of how focused the ladies stayed, especially on the final run leg, to finish strong overall with very respectable times. This was both Madisan and Madalyn’s third ever triathlon in their lives, competing against girls who have 40, 50 or more triathlons under their belt. I am very happy with their resolve so far and am just looking forward to getting a little better every day.”

USA Triathlon hosts three different regional qualifiers for the NCAA throughout the year. Due to the limited number of draft-legal triathlons available throughout the fall, any NCAA program can participate in any or all of the regional qualifiers, not to exceed the maximum field size of 75 student-athletes. This season’s first regional, the Central Region Championships, took place on August 31st in Pleasant Prairie, WI.

The Jackets did not attend Pleasant Prairie, but in addition to Sunday’s West Regional will attend the final East Region Qualifier on October 19th at the Smith Mountain Lake Reservoir in Virginia. The top two teams in DI, DII, and DIII from each regional will automatically qualify for nationals, in addition to the top five individuals not on a qualifying team. If a team finishes top two at a second regional, their qualification spot will roll down to the next team.

Additionally, recipients of the USAT Women’s Triathlon Emerging Sport Grant that attend at least one Regional Qualifier will automatically qualify five (5) athletes per team. MSUB is one of those recipients.

Up Next: The September 22 Oktoberfest Triathlon in Longment, Colorado is next on the MSUB triathlon calendar.

Follow: Yellowjacket fans are encouraged to follow MSUB’s newest varsity sport on MSUBSports.com and on twitter @MSUBTriathlon.

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