Triathletes reflect on fall season as they prepare to peak at spring nationals in Ga.
As they rest and recover from an action-packed fall training and racing schedule, Liberty University’s men’s and women’s triathlon teams are mentally gearing up to resume offseason strength and conditioning workouts over the winter months in preparation for what could potentially be a sensational spring semester.
“We had a super successful fall racing season,” Lady Flames sophomore Mackenzie Foy said. “It was awesome … personally and as a team together. It was super cool to see them and how they competed. Everyone pushed themselves to their max and it was awesome to see how the team came together and how we did so well. I’m excited to see what comes up in the future.”
The Flames and Lady Flames followed second- and sixth-place finishes at the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships in Malibu, Calif., which were postponed from the spring semester in Tempe, Ariz., with a third-place showing in the Olympic distance races at the Mid-Atlantic Conference Championships on their home course at Smith Mountain Lake.
“As a coach, it is so exciting to see the hard work and dedication of the athletes pay off,” Head Coach Heather Gollnick said. “Triathletes are training in three different sports and they want to be great at all three sports. This was by far the best season for Liberty triathlon. That was the first time Liberty’s been on the podium for those two (men’s and combined team standings), so we’re super proud of them and just know that their dedication really pays off.”
Liberty ran into two powerhouse programs at the Mid-Atlantic Conference event, Queens (N.C.) University and the Naval Academy, which swept the top two positions in the men’s and women’s races.
“We were coming off a high of a good race at nationals,” Flames senior Max Galbraith said. “We went into the race with high hopes to do the best that we could and we got third as a team. Our coaches prepared us for the race and it was a great atmosphere with a bunch of collegiate athletes there (who we didn’t see) when we went to nationals in California.”
“We had a beautiful day for the Conference Championships,” Gollnick added. “Two years ago, it was quite cold, so the athletes were very happy and they performed well. We’re just so thankful that they’re able to compete and give God the glory.”
The Flames will gradually build their training base back up to be prepared to peak at the March 5-6 Clermont (Fla.) Draft Legal Challenge and then the April 1-2 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships at Lake Lanier, Ga., site of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games’ rowing and triathlon races.
“Coming off a good race season in the fall… some much-needed rest will be nice,” Galbraith said. “Then, building that base back up in swimming, biking, and running and focusing on our form, focusing on technique, and getting back into strength-building season to get ready for the next big season of racing in the spring.”
“They’re looking forward to changing it up, just really getting stronger, knowing that that strength will turn into power and speed later on,” Gollnick added. “Hopefully we’ll have some nice weather (over the winter), but we’re also blessed with a triathlon studio where the athletes can ride indoors and take advantage of riding the trainers and being together as a team.”
Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media