Sonnery-Cottet sixth, Merryman 13th in Draft-Legal Sprint
April 21, 2017 | Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Liberty University's men's and women's triathlon teams both earned points in Friday morning's Draft-Legal Sprint race at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Flames freshman Thomas Sonnery-Cottet finished sixth overall in 57 minutes, 48.05 seconds on the 750-meter swim, 20.2-kilometer cycling course, and 5K run, while sophomore teammate Greg Schott placed 27th in 1:01:36.36.
"They only count one men's and one women's finish, so Greg was there as a backup in case something happened with Thomas," Liberty Head Coach Parker Spencer said. "Thomas was the top freshman in the race and everyone that finished in front of him was at least two years older."
Colorado-Boulder's Dan Feeney, who completed the course in 57:07.59 and was the overall winner, and Navy's Kevin Holder, the fifth-place finisher in 57:45.13, are both fifth-year seniors. Feeney, 27, has been competing professionally for the past five years and is nearly 10 years older than Sonnery-Cottet, 18.
"Thomas was one of the first guys out of the water and he was in the lead bike pack," Spencer said. "He's pretty balanced between all three sports. (Feeney) just ran everybody else down. He's a very, very strong runner."
Sonnery-Cottet completed the swim tied for third and had the 10th-fastest time on the bike (29:54) and eighth-fastest run time (16:57), with Feeney setting the pace in 16:12.
His sixth-place overall showing puts the Flames in good position for a top-three team finish after Saturday's Olympic Distance triathlon, the weekend's main event. That will take place on a similar course, but is twice as long with a 1,500-meter swim, 40K cycling stage, and 10K run.
"Our guys are really fired up and ready to race," Spencer said. "They'll have to really perform to break through and get a top-three finish, but it's absolutely possible. If we have four of our guys in the top 15, we still have a chance to win the whole thing."
In Friday morning's women's race, Lady Flames senior Megan Merryman came in 13th in 1:14:06.46 just six weeks after breaking her collarbone in a cycling crash at the Clermont (Fla.) Draft-Legal Challenge.
"With Megan, she went in with a lot of question marks, but she blew away any expectations we had for the race and had her best finish ever," Spencer said.
Complete results are available online.
While temperatures hovered around 80 degrees for Friday's first event, overcast skies and potential showers are in the forecast for Saturday's men's race, scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m., with the women's race to follow at 10:20 a.m.
Both races are expected to feature record-size fields with a total of 1,552 triathletes registered.