Triathletes third in Mid-Atlantic Region behind Queens, Navy
October 14, 2017 | Huddleston, Va.
Friday's and Saturday's Mid-Atlantic Regional Triathlon Championships, hosted by Liberty University for the fourth year in a row at Smith Mountain Lake, didn't turn out exactly as Head Coach Parker Spencer planned.
But it gave him a good gauge of where the Flames stand competing against two of the top USA Triathlon collegiate programs in the country. Liberty's men's team placed third behind Queens of Charlotte and defending national champion Navy.
"We didn't have perfect races today, but that's part of the sport," Spencer said. "We had some mechanical issues on the bike and some of our top guys had nutrition problems and were getting sick on the run. Overall, I'm really proud of our team, but we've got some things we'll have to get better at before (USA Triathlon Collegiate) Nationals in April."
This was the first year that a draft-legal sprint was part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships. Flames sophomore Thomas Sonnery-Cottet was runner-up in Friday's 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer cycling stage, and 5K run in 59 minutes, 47 seconds, just 21 seconds behind Queens of Charlotte's Maximillian Sperl. Flames freshman Bobby Hammond was the seventh overall finisher in 1:02:54.
Then in Saturday's Olympic distance non-draft legal race, Maximillian again held off Sonnery-Cottet in another close 1-2 finish. Sonnery-Cottet led all competitors coming out of the water in 18:28 after the 1.5K swim, one second in front of Maximillian. He picked up seven more seconds in the transition area before Maximillian made those up during the 40K cycling stage to pull even going into the final 10K run. Sonnery-Cottet took a three-second lead out of the transition area before Maximillian surged ahead in the run stage, clocking a first-place finish of 1:52:11, more than a minute and a half ahead of Sonnery-Cottett's time of 1:53:42.
Javier Lluch also placed in the top 10 for Liberty in 1:59:03, followed by sophomore Tyler Figgins (15th in 2:02:05), freshman Bobby Hammond (21st in 2:03:27), freshman Joan Colino Calomarde (22nd in 2:05:09), junior Travis Fehr (23rd in 2:06:22), and senior Adam Williams (24th in 2:07:13).
"We showed we're definitely on track to beat Navy and Queens, who are the top two teams in the country this fall, even better than Colorado," said Spencer, noting that Liberty will pick up a few more international triathletes who should be eligible in January. "The (winter) offseason is where all of the hard work is done, and we need to prove we are able to compete and have the upper hand on both of them next time."
Sophomore Heather Ziebart was the first finisher for the Lady Flames in Saturday's Olympic-distance women's race, placing 23rd in 2:32.00, followed by Parker (36th in 2:36:19), Laci Clark (39th in 2:41:52), Griffin (41st in 2:44:36), graduate Rachel Walters (45th in 2:47:59), and junior Shannon Wade (48th in 2:51:55).