USA Triathlon (USAT) has announced that Montana State University Billings, an NCAA Division II institution, has added women’s triathlon to its varsity sports portfolio to become the first university in the state of Montana to offer the sport at the varsity level. The university’s ‘Yellowjackets’ will begin competition at the varsity level in the autumn/fall of 2019.
“USA Triathlon is proud to welcome MSU Billings to the women’s collegiate triathlon family as the first varsity program in Montana,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “The addition of MSUB provides increased competition for varsity programs in the Midwest and Northwest regions, an opportunity we believe will draw talented student-athletes and give the movement momentum in the coming years.”
Women’s triathlon has already gained popularity within MSUB’s geographic region, with fellow NCAA Division II school Black Hills State University (Spearfish, SD) offering the sport and providing MSUB with a potential dual-meet competitor within close proximity. Fellow region school University of South Dakota (Vermillion, SD) competes at the Division I level.
“We are very excited to introduce women’s triathlon as our 16th varsity sport here at MSUB,” said MSUB Director of Athletics Krista Montague. “This addition aligns perfectly with the program of NCAA Division II sports that we already offer, and will aid us dually in creating opportunities for young women to compete as well as bringing additional, successful students to our university.”
The addition of the women’s triathlon program at MSUB is made possible through a US$70,000 grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation. The USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the NCAA varsity level.
The search for a USA Triathlon Certified head coach to lead MSUB is underway.
The NCAA named triathlon an Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, a designation that gives the sport a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability at the NCAA level. USA Triathlon is more than halfway to its goal of recruiting 40 schools by 2024, as 24 schools currently offer the sport at the varsity level for women.
Women’s triathlon is an autumn/fall sport, and the varsity season includes three Regional Qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championship. Athletes race over sprint-distance courses covering a 750m open-water swim, draft-legal 20k bike and 5k run.
Women’s Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs (as at October 19, 2018):
NCAA Division I
Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.)
University of San Francisco (San Francisco, Calif.)
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.)
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.)
NCAA Division II
American International College (Springfield, Mass.)
Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.)
Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.)
Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo.)
Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.)
Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V.)
Drury University (Springfield, Mo.)
Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont.)
Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.)
Southern Wesleyan University (Central, S.C.)
NCAA Division III
Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.)
Northern Vermont University (Johnson, Vt.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.)
Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.)
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.)
Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.)
Trine University (Angola, Ind.)
Willamette University (Salem, Ore.)