Liberty triathlon teams fourth at MACTC championships
October 15, 2016 | Huddleston, Va.
A runner-up showing by freshman Thomas Sonnery-Cottet from France and a third-place performance by senior Megan Merryman paced Liberty University's men's and women's triathlon teams to fourth-place combined finishes out of 17 collegiate teams in both Saturday's Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Triathlon Conference (MACTC) championships, hosted by Liberty at Smith Mountain Lake, and the fall season standings.
"What a way to finish an incredible fall season," Flames third-year Head Coach Parker Spencer said, noting that Liberty placed fourth behind Navy, Queens of Charlotte (N.C.), and Virginia in both the men's and women's overall standings.
"We had awesome weather and it was just a really fun day on a really fun course," Merryman added of the Olympic-distance route that featured a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 24-mile cycling stage, and a 10K run.
On Wednesday, Spencer confirmed that Liberty will continue to host the MACTC championships for the next three seasons, renewing its contract through 2019.
Out of 110 men's participants Saturday, Liberty placed six triathletes in the top 50 — twice as many as in last year's race — led by Sonnery-Cottet's second-place performance in 1 hour, 57 minutes, 33 seconds. He trailed only Marymount's Collin Chartier (1:54:38), who moved into the lead on the bike and overtook Sonnery-Cottet for the individual series points lead with the win.
"I had a good swim and came out of the transition area in first place, but after the bike phase, I didn't have the legs to keep up with (Chartier) in the run," said Sonnery-Cottet, who is training for the French National Championships in June.
|Flames freshman Sam Blackmon transitions out of the water before starting Saturday's cycling stage..|
Fellow freshman teammate and roommate Sam Blackmon, a first-year triathlete with a running background, was the second Flames finisher (27th overall) in 2:12:09.
"It was a tough race," Blackmon said. "Usually, I'm strongest in the swim but I got boxed in and knocked down in the swim and kept swallowing water. It was tough to recover from that."
|Thomas Sonnery-Cottet was the second-place men's finisher in Saturday's race and the MACTC fall standings.|
In the women's race, Merryman crossed the finish line third out of 114 contestants in 2:15:22, shaving more than three and a half minutes off her fourth-place time of 2:18:57 from last season. Only two Queens triathletes — Tereza Zimovjanova in 2:12:42 and Jocelyn Bonney in 2:14:35 — crossed the finish line in front of Merryman, who made up ground after a 12th-place swim time (23:58) by ranking third on the bike (1:09:47) and second in the run (39:43).
"I definitely make up time on the bike and the run is my best part," Merryman said. "Those girls are very fast, so they definitely pushed me."
Bonney had to be treated by Liberty Club Sports Coordinator of Athletic Training Angie Witt immediately after the race after throwing up twice — once in the swim and once on the run.
"But she still killed it, so it was very impressive," Merryman said. "I had the lead for a little bit, but then she passed me at the start of the run."
Graduate Rachel Walters, who introduced Merryman to the sport just two years ago, was the second Lady Flames triathlete to complete the course, 55th overall in 2:45:26.
Complete results are available online.