Full Club Sports Schedule

    Team News

    September 12, 2022 Williamsburg, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University’s triathlon team set the tempo for the 2022-23 season with strong individual and team showings at the Patriots Triathlon Festival put on by Kinetic Multisports over the weekend in Williamsburg, Va.

    “The athletes performed phenomenally well,” Liberty Head Coach Heather Gollnick said. “I am very proud of the hard work the athletes put in over the summer which allowed them to compete at a high level against a strong competitive field, including athletes from several other universities.”

    Giovanni Bianco crosses the Collegiate Men’s Sprint race in first place. (Photo courtesy Kinetic Multisports)

    Flames graduate Giovanni Bianco’s first-place performance (1 hour, 52 minutes, 6 seconds) in Sunday’s men’s collegiate Sprint (750-meter swim, 25-kilometer cycling stage, 5K run) and senior Hayden Russell’s second-place showing (2:06:21.7) in Saturday’s men’s Olympic distance (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run) race highlighted the men team’s efforts.

    Liberty also staged a 1-2-3 sweep of Saturday’s Olympic collegiate age-group race on the strength of senior Jared Hoober (2:13.47), freshman Skylar Waechter (2:28:29), and sophomore Josiah Fowler (2:37.50.9), as well as posting a combined first-place finish in the Olympic team relay by senior David McCurdy (swim), Drew Thibault (bike), and Matthew McGuire (run) in 2:01:57.7.

    In the Sprint, Bianco was one of five Flames to finish in the top 15, followed by junior Jack Pizor (7th, 1:05:08.2) and seniors JJ Bagans (9th, 1:05:38.2), Russell (12th, 1:06:58.9), and McGuire (14th, 1:07:18.5). Three others, Connor Readman (16th, 1:07:30.3), Hoober (22nd, 1:08:52), and Brady Schwartz (23rd, 1:10:40.2), also placed in the top 25.

    Meanwhile, the Lady Flames were paced by sophomore Liz Brower’s first-place women’s overall finish in the Olympic distance event in 2 hours, 16 minutes, 18.3 seconds, more than five minutes faster than Gollnick, who was the second-fastest overall female finisher in 2:21:54.4.

    “It was really fun,” said Brower, who grew up as a competitive swimmer before completing her first triathlon at last September’s Patriots event. “Last year, I finished the Olympic distance race in 2:25 and this year I dropped nearly 10 minutes. We all improved a lot from last year, and there were a lot of people running their very first triathlon and they did very well, too.”

    Lady Flames sophomore Liz Brower

    Brower, who is from Anchorage, Alaska, said gearing up for Sunday’s women’s collegiate sprint was a challenge as she was still recovering from the Olympic distance race. She still managed to finish second in 1:11:35.8.

    “This was my first time doing the sprint, and I definitely felt very sore on the second day, but it was good,” she said. “I felt better on the second day after getting the nervousness from the first race out of the way.”

    She said the weather cooperated, with rain holding off until after Sunday’s sprint.

    “For the Olympic race, it was very nice, just a little hot,” Brower said. “We were expecting lightning and thunder the entire second day during the Sprints, but it didn’t rain the entire race, and then right when we finished, it started pouring.”

    Liberty’s women’s trio of junior Mackenzie Foy (swim) and sophomores Bella Lang (bike) and Leigh Anne Tannar (run) posted a second-place showing in the team relay event in 2:25:29.4.

    Complete results are available online.

    Gollnick was excited to see her triathletes compete, many for the first time, with just over a month to prepare for the Olympic distance Mid-Atlantic Conference Regional Championships set for Oct. 15 at Smith Mountain Lake, also known as the Kinetic Cup.

    “It was great to be back on the road with the team,” Gollnick said. “Traveling is always a highlight for us and a special opportunity to bond as a team and get to know new teammates on another level. In addition, seeing our new rostered athletes, many of which finished their first triathlon, is always a thrill. They have come into the program with various athletic backgrounds, with some swimmers and others runners. Now, it’s time to fine-tune their skillset and develop them into three-sport athletes.”