by Vanessa Saltos
Swimming, cycling, running; all great sports on their own, but some people tackle all three at once. For Cal Poly Humboldt, seven triathletes took on this challenge. On Saturday, Nov. 11, the Lumberjacks traveled to Tempe, Arizona for the NCAA National Championship.
After their last race on Oct. 1, they had about four weeks to prepare to finish out their fall season. Head Coach Kinsey Laine wanted to ensure she was getting the best out of her athletes for this last stretch of the season. What Laine wanted to focus on in practice was speed and maintaining health.
“The deeper you get into the season, the greater the chances are for injury and illness. After regionals, I did have them take a week where it was easier,” Laine said. “They had an extra day off, just because I wanted to make sure they were healthy and not go right back into challenging training, and maybe compromise their immune system or put them at a higher risk for injury.”
This is the second season Cal Poly Humboldt has had a triathlon team. The growth from the players and the team is evident. Last season, they finished 12th out of 12 teams. Going into this race, they have earned the 7th spot out of 13 teams. Laine attributes this growth to the culture shift she has seen within the team. She notices her athletes wanting to not only get the best out of themselves, but out of each other in a positive way.
“It’s been phenomenal. It’s been such a joy to watch this team grow and improve,
Laine said. “I think probably the biggest difference is that the new athletes that are here this year came in knowing part of the reason they came to Humboldt was to do triathlon.”
One of the new athletes this year is Sierra Erlandson, a freshman majoring in environmental resource engineering. Erlandson had no experience with collegiate triathlon, and didn’t know what to expect when joining the team. She was pleasantly surprised to be a part of what she now calls family. Erlandson understands that the deeper you get into the season the more mental strength it takes.
“Right now, we’re just supporting each other, and we’re just so proud of how far we’ve come so far as it is, that we’re not looking for some miraculous outcome from nationals,” Elandson said. “We’re looking for strong finishes and smiling faces”.
Six out of the seven Lumberjack athletes crossed the finish line in Tempe, Arizona this weekend. Leading the way was freshman Eve Wendley placing #137 out of 208 athletes. Racers were either from division I, II or III programs. As a team, Cal Poly Humboldt placed 10th out of the 12 division II teams in attendance.