The University of Colorado at Boulder’s Michelle Mehnert stayed near the front of the race the entire day to take her first USAT Collegiate National Championship. This was Mehnert’s fifth time racing at Nationals and her first time representing the Buffaloes as a graduate student (Mehnert graduated from the University of Illinois last year).
Triathlon legend Dean Harper’s daughter Shelley Harper (Cal) started the day off with a blazing swim. She held a significant lead over former collegiate swimmer Mehnert. Harper held the lead through the midway point of the first lap, but Mehnert was not far behind and after making the pass she pedaled hard and extended her lead with every stroke.
Mehnert came into T2 with a 35-second lead over Britt Braden of SDSU. Next off the bike were three fast-running athletes from Cal. Mehnert backed up her strong swim and bike with an even more impressive performance on the hot 10K-run course. She crossed the line in 2:01:13 to earn the victory. Cal’s Erika Erickson replicated her second-place finish from yesterday’s draft-legal race. Braden claimed the final podium spot.
Next up the athletes will take part in a team mixed relay race at 4 p.m. local time. The official winners and overall team awards will be handed out at a ceremony at 8 p.m.
Quotes from unofficial winner Michelle Mehnert:
“I knew the Cal girls would be really fast on the swim. I’ve come out first in the swim the last couple of years, so I knew that part of the race and I knew I could do well. I knew training in the hills in Colorado this course would cater to my skills. Coming onto a hard bike and having to get out of the saddle a lot and coming onto the run where it seems to have a lot of mixed trails. It seemed like the perfect course for me to do well on so I tried to capitalize on that.”
“I graduated from the University of Illinois last year. This is actually my fifth Collegiate Nationals, but I was an NCAA swimmer for four years so this is the first winter I’ve gotten to train. Usually I’m not allowed to go on the bike because my coach didn’t want a broken collar bone or anything.”
“I’ve had Barb [Lindquist] as an advisor. I wasn’t originally going to join the team this year and she’s like ‘well you know it could be fun.’ Being able to work with her has been great and being in Boulder and having pros to key off of and give me advice has been really great. I’m in environmental engineering and Boulder has a great program for that so it seems like the best of both worlds in terms of training and school.”
USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships
Tempe, Ariz. – April 13, 2013
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run
1. Michelle Mehnert (CU) 2:01:13
2. Erika Erickson (Cal) 2:02:28
3. Brittany Braden (SDSU) 2:03:28