CLEMSON, S.C. -- Erica Clevenger from the University of Arizona made her move on the last lap of the run to claim her first collegiate triathlon title, while Mike Meehan from Penn State picked up his second title in two days at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships, held Saturday at Campus Beach.
Mike Meehan is the first athlete to earn both titles at Collegiate Club Nationals since 2013. (Mario Cantu/CIMAGES)
Clevenger finished the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run course in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 50 seconds to best the field. Clevenger finished seventh last year, and plans to return in 2017 to defend her title as a senior for the Arizona TriCats. Kelly Kosmo of UCLA returned to the race course to earn her second medal in two days of racing with a time of 2:16:10 after taking the bronze yesterday, and Montana's Erika Ackerlund also earned her second medal of the weekend to pick up bronze in 2:16:31.
Shelly Harper from Duke led the women out of the water for the second-straight day, while Clevenger had a gap of 4 minutes to close on the bike and the run. Clevenger posted one of the fastest bike splits of the day, riding 40 kilometers in 1:07:34 to close in on the lead as athletes headed out on the run. Kosmo was in the middle of the field on the swim, and after making up time on the bike, she and Clevenger were within 15 seconds of each other at the start of the run. In the final 10 kilometers, Kosmo could not match Clevenger's run speed, and Clevenger crossed the line with a 20 second advantage.
"I wouldn't really ever say that I knew [I could win], but I knew I had to give it a shot. I'd be mad at myself if I didn't give it a try," said Clevenger, who credits her cycling prowess to her win. "Kelly's beat me in a sprint before, so I knew I'd have to make a move if I wanted to win. This is the closest I've been to a team sport, and it's unreal - there's no way I could get to the level I'm at without my team."
In the men's race, Meehan had a monster bike to put him in prime position to win his second title in two days in 1:58:24. Meehan is the first athlete to win both races since 2013 when Arizona's Ben Kanute won the double. Sean Harrington with UCSB had the fastest time over 10k to move his way into second place with a final time of 1:59:11, and Michael Arishita from Texas A&M was third in 1:59:50.
It was another fastest swim of the day for Greg Harper of California, who led out of the water with Seth Rider from Queens. After the first of two bike laps, Rider was in the lead with Harper just behind him, but Meehan and a number of other athletes, including Christopher Douglas from Georgia Tech and Joel-Tyler Rogers from San Diego State, had moved into the lead at the end of the bike leg. Once out on the run, Meehan opened a huge gap to finish nearly 50 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
"Honestly, I knew that there were a lot of fast guys with fresh legs. Yesterday the guys were really close to me and I knew that I had to have an awesome race if I wanted to come in first again," said Meehan, who was feeling the effects of the rising temperature at the finish. "It hasn't hit me yet. Ask me in a couple of hours, and I'll know how special it really is."
Newton Nguyen of California also raced on Saturday, returning as the sole paratriathlete to finish a sprint-distance course in 1:22:08.
Complete results from the weekend's events will be available later today following the awards ceremony, which takes place at 8 p.m. ET. Overall team, men's team and women's team winners will be announced at that time. Visit USATriathlon.org for more information on Collegiate Club Nationals.
2016 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships - 1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
1. Erica Clevenger (Arizona), 2:15:50
2. Kelly Kosmo (UCLA), 2:16:10
3. Erika Ackerlund (Montana), 2:16:31
4. Laura Haley (Arizona), 2:18:40
5. Brittany Warly (Colorado), 2:18:47
1. Mike Meehan (Penn State), 1:58:24
2. Sean Harrington (UCSB), 1:59:11
3. Michael Arishita (Texas A&M), 1:59:50
4. Collin Chartier (Marymount), 1:59:53
5. Dan Feeney (Colorado), 2:00:41
||About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).