USA Triathlon has announced Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, as the 30th school in the USA, and 12th at the NCAA Division III level, to add women’s triathlon as a varsity sport.
The commitment of the 30th school is a key step in triathlon’s journey toward becoming an NCAA Championship sport. USA Triathlon is now three-quarters of the way to its goal of securing 40 varsity programs by 2024.
Deemed an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, triathlon has a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability at the NCAA varsity level.
“USA Triathlon is proud to welcome Guilford College to the women’s collegiate triathlon family, as the sport achieves another milestone on its way to full NCAA inclusion,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “Guilford is well-placed to compete regionally with other varsity programs in the Mideast region, while offering a liberal arts education that will attract talented student-athletes.”
Guilford competes as part of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). The school will have an in-conference rival in fellow ODAC member Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va., DIII), which announced in March that it would be adding the sport. Guilford is the third school in North Carolina to sponsor varsity women’s triathlon, joining Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C., DII) and Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C., DII).
The addition of women’s triathlon to Guilford’s varsity sport offerings is made possible through a 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 varsity level.
“Women’s triathlon is growing quickly among colleges and universities, and it’s growing in the greater Greensboro community,” said Sue Bower, Guilford College Director of Athletics. “With qualified and enthusiastic coaches already on staff and an ideal climate, we expect to provide a successful and enjoyable experience from the start. I’m grateful for USA Triathlon’s tremendous support in this exciting endeavour.”
Marty Owens, Director of Track & Field and Cross-Country Operations at Guilford, will serve as the school’s Director of Triathlon. Brad Herndon, Head Coach of the Guilford women’s swim team, will serve as the Women’s Triathlon Head Coach.
Marty Owens is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach and USA Track & Field Level II Endurance Coach who joined Guilford’s staff last August. He has coached triathletes of various levels competing in sprint- to ultra-distances, through his private business. A 2015 USA Triathlon All-American, Owens has twice competed in the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and placed second at the 1997 Wildflower Long Course Triathlon.
Brad Herndon, who also recently completed his first season at Guilford, is a three-time IRONMAN finisher. He is a USA Swimming-certified coach and holds a Level 4 certification from the American Swimming Coaches’ Association. In addition to his coaching duties at Guilford, Herndon also coaches the Greensboro Community YMCA Makos Club Swim Team.
The coaching and operations staff will recruit for one season and begin varsity competition in 2020.
Women’s triathlon is an autumn/fall sport, and the varsity season includes three Regional Qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships. All races are sprint-distance, featuring a 750m open water swim, draft-legal 20km bike and 5km run.
Women’s Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs (as of June 13, 2019):
NCAA Division I
Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.)
Hampton University (Hampton, Va.)
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.)
King University (Bristol, Tenn.)
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.)
Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.)
Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.)
Guilford College (Greensboro, N.C.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.)
Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.)
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.)
Northern Vermont University-Johnson (Johnson, Vt.)
Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.)
Trine University (Angola, Ind.)
Willamette University (Salem, Ore.)