Triathlon teams place third at North Carolina Championships
September 16, 2017 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's men's and women's triathlon teams hit the ground running at Saturday's North Carolina State Championships and Mid-Atlantic Draft-legal Festival near Greensboro, N.C., posting a third-place combined team finish behind Queens University of Charlotte, N.C., and the Naval Academy.
The Flames and Lady Flames finished ahead of teams from Appalachian State, Georgetown, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia, and VMI.
"We saw a lot of great potential," Flames Head Coach Parker Spencer said. "We didn't have two of our top scoring (men's triathletes) and we were only nine points off of Navy, the defending (USA Triathlon) national champions and QueensUniversity of Charlotte, which beat us by 20 points. The guys showed huge improvement from last year."
The Flames were without Joan Colino, a freshman from Spain who was unable to race after a cycling accident on campus, and Bobby Hammond, a freshman from New Jersey studying through Liberty's online programs who won't be eligible to compete until his classes start in October. Additionally, sophomore Sam Blackmon and junior Greg Schott are focusing on cycling for the fall season.
In the draft-legal race, Flames sophomore Thomas Sonnery-Cottet from France placed second in 1 hour, 34 seconds with a time of 9:42.5 in the 800-meter swim, 32:30.6 in the 18-mile cycling stage, and 17:34.4 in the 5-kilometer run, finishing runner-up to Queens' Maximillian Sperl (59:08.8).
In the non-draft-legal event, junior Travis Fehr was the Flames' top finisher in 1:18:08 despite recovering from the previous weekend's Ironman 70.3-mile World Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he placed 38th out of 109 participants in the men's 18-24 age group and 386th out of 2,380 men's participants overall in 4:42:32. (At that event, Spencer placed 55th out of 205 finishers in the 25-29 age group and 220th among men in 4:34:15.)
"Amazingly, Travis had an incredible race, a week after a half-Ironman World Championship event," Spencer said. "He had was one of his best races ever this past weekend with a solid swim and he came off the bike as our top guy."
Fehr was followed by University of South Carolina transfer Freddie Shahaty from Richmond, Va., who placed 10th in 1:18:31.6, Adam Piendal (12th in 1:20:22.8), and senior Dillon Lesniak (17th in 1:24:17.8).
"I'm very proud of where we're at, both with our guy's and our girl's teams," Spencer said. "What it shows me is we will have incredible depth when we have everyone on our roster competing together, which is how you win championships."
Liberty's top four women's finishers in the non-draft-legal race were sophomore Heather Ziebart (45th in 1:43:30), senior Madeline Griffin (46th in 1:43:56.3), junior Shannon Wade (48th in 1:45:05.9), and Rachel Walters (51st in 1:46:44).
Junior Sarah Parker, competing in her first draft-legal race, was third out of the water behind two Navy competitors before finishing ninth overall in 1:21:29.9.
"She did really well and showed us exactly what we need to work with her on in preparation for the (Mid-Atlantic) Regional Championships," Spencer said of the event to be hosted by Liberty for the fourth year Oct. 14 at Smith Mountain Lake.
Complete results are available online.
Liberty was planning to compete in another sprint race hosted by Queens on Oct. 7 at Trump National Golf Course in Charlotte, N.C., but because that event was canceled, the Flames will instead prepare for regionals at this Saturday's Giant Acorn International, an Olympic-distance triathlon at Lake Anna, Va.