USA Triathlon has announced the dates and locations for the three events that will serve as regional qualifiers for the 2020 women’s varsity collegiate triathlon season. In addition, the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships have been awarded to Tempe, Arizona, hosted by Arizona State University.
The 2020 National Championships will be held on one of the first three Saturdays of November, with the exact date to be announced in the coming weeks.
“In 2020, we are set to see a record number of varsity athletes and teams competing as the women’s collegiate triathlon movement continues to gain momentum,” said Jessica Welk, USA Triathlon’s NCAA and Collegiate Club Assistant Manager. “USA Triathlon is grateful for the support of our regional race directors, and we are thrilled to work once again with world-class hosts in ASU for the National Championships.”
“For the fourth straight season, ASU is honoured to have the opportunity to host the hundreds of competitors, staff and volunteers that help us make the women’s collegiate championships here in Tempe possible,” said Ray Anderson, Vice President for University Athletics at ASU. “As the sport continues to surge toward its goal of 40 participating institutions to gain NCAA championship status, we are excited to be advocates for the sport of triathlon.
“We intend to build on the momentum and energy stemming from previous years and anticipate another first-class experience for our athletes and teams on and off the course.”
The 2020 season begins on September 5 with the first regional qualifier in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, hosted by race management company Experience Triathlon. The second qualifier takes place in Branson, Missouri, on September 27, as part of the Missouri State Multisport Weekend, hosted by Heartland Racing and Drury University Triathlon. The third and final qualifier is set for October 17 in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, as part of the Kinetic Cup Triathlon Festival, hosted by Kinetic Multisports.
Deemed an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, triathlon has a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability as an NCAA Championship sport by recruiting at least 40 varsity programs by 2024. To date, 34 schools offer triathlon at the varsity level for women, including seven at the NCAA Division I level, 13 in Division II and 14 in Division III.
Recently, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, announced its decision to add women’s triathlon as a varsity sport. TCU becomes the second school, after ASU, from a Power Five Conference to add the sport.
“As we approach the precipice of women’s triathlon becoming an NCAA sport, we are pleased to expand the regional qualifiers to a new location in Branson, while returning to the beautiful venues of Pleasant Prairie and Smith Mountain Lake,” said Jenny Garrison, President of the Collegiate Triathlon Coaches Association. “I am so excited for this season as we are at this crucial tipping point.”
Each race on the 2020 schedule will follow the competition structure implemented in 2014 for the inaugural season, with a maximum field of 75 women racing on a draft-legal, sprint-distance course (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run).
All varsity teams that field athletes in at least one 2020 regional qualifier, and that are recipients of the USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant, will automatically qualify five athletes for the National Championships. The top two NCAA varsity teams in each division at each regional qualifier will qualify up to seven athletes.
In addition, a minimum of the top five individual women in each event who are not already on a qualifying NCAA varsity team will earn pending qualification.
Teams and individual athletes may only qualify once. If a team or individual athlete finishes in a qualifying position at a second or third event, that spot will roll down to the next eligible team or athlete.
The National Championships field will be limited to 75 women representing NCAA varsity programs.
At the 2019 National Championships in Tempe, Arizona, North Central College secured a four-peat victory in the Division III competition. Queens University of Charlotte earned the DII title for the fifth consecutive year and second year as a varsity program, while host ASU took its fourth consecutive title in the DI competition.
“I am thrilled that ASU will be hosting the National Championships in 2020 and 2021,” said Cliff English, Women’s Triathlon Head Coach at ASU. “I have been in the sport of triathlon as an athlete and coach for over 30 years, and in this time, I have attended hundreds of events worldwide and believe we have a great race.
“It’s fast, challenging, technical, scenic and well organized. I am incredibly proud of the team ASU has assembled to make this race a huge success – spearheaded by Bill Kennedy; my Assistant Coach Nicole Welling; Race Director Craig Hanken; and huge efforts from facility staff, marketing staff and our school of sustainability. It truly is all-hands-on-deck to produce this awesome event.”