USA Triathlon has announced that Queens University of Charlotte, an NCAA Division II institution based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has added women’s triathlon to its varsity sport portfolio. After fielding a nationally-competitive collegiate club team for the past four seasons, Queens’ Royals athletes will compete at the varsity level for the first time this autumn/fall.
Queens has placed in the top-five in the women’s club division at two USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships, taking second in 2016 and fourth in 2018. Also, in 2018, Queens’ men and women combined to win the Mixed Team Relay event for the first time.
In addition, the Royals have competed in three Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships as a collegiate club. Queens claimed the overall team title at the inaugural event in 2015, and took top honours for Division II schools every year from 2015-2017.
“USA Triathlon is pleased to see Queens University, one of the most successful collegiate club programs in the nation, advance its women’s triathlon team to the NCAA varsity level,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “The women of Queens displayed their talent this past April by finishing fourth as a team at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I am confident they will build on that success as a varsity program and have an immediate impact on the women’s NCAA landscape.”
Queens is the 25th university in the United States and the 10th at the NCAA Division II level to add the sport at the varsity level for women. The Royals join Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C., Division II) as the only two schools in North Carolina to offer the sport. Southern Wesleyan University (Central, S.C., Division II) is also nearby.
“At Queens, the ‘Yes, And.’ commitment represents our pursuit of excellence in the academic development of world-class students as well as at the highest levels on the field of competition,” said Cherie Swarthout, Queens Director of Athletics. “Women’s triathlon has exemplified this as well as any program within Queens Athletics by earning a 3.7 team GPA en-route to winning three Division II Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National titles. We’re excited about being a part of USA Triathlon’s efforts as part of the NCAA Emerging Sport process for women’s triathlon.”
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 — and the movement is gaining momentum, as 10 schools have added varsity programs in the last eight months.
Queens was one of the first institutions to commit to supporting the varsity women’s triathlon movement, starting a women’s collegiate club in 2014 with the long-term goal of building into a varsity program. The school was one of the earliest recipients of the USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant, which is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the NCAA varsity level.
USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach Sonni Dyer, who has led the men’s and women’s club teams since 2014, will serve as the head coach for the women’s varsity program.
“Since 2014, we’ve worked hard to build the Queens triathlon program to compete among the best institutions in the country,” Dyer said. “Declaring to join the USA Triathlon Emerging Sport process for women’s varsity triathlon is the realization of that next step. It was critically important for us to maintain a standard of excellence in academics, student-athlete experience, and to always compete for the podium nationally in building Queens women’s triathlon program.”
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 of May 31, 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.)
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.)
Johnson State College (Johnson, Vt.)
Marymount University (Arlington, Va.)
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.)