Newman University triathletes are making their mark on the sport.
Recently, seven student-athletes of the Newman triathlon team made it to nationals. Two of them, Maggie Koenig and Asher Brown, successfully completed the draft-legal race at nationals.
There, Koenig became the first woman to finish the race in the team’s history, while Brown placed 17th in the nation in his division — the best placement ever for Newman in the men’s draft-legal race.
These two accomplishments mean a lot to Newman’s triathlon coach Jeff Lovgren.
“We have been working so hard to get our name out there, and this nationals we did just that,” he said. “Because of the hard work of these two amazing athletes and the rest of the team, there were a lot of people talking about Newman. It was definitely a proud dad moment for me to watch them succeed.”
For those who might not know what it means to compete in a draft-legal race, Lovgren said the best way to describe it is like the Tour de France, when a small group of riders break away from the peloton and ride like crazy to stay out front.
“Add a full contact swim before and an all-out run on tired legs after, you have a draft-legal triathlon,” Lovgren added. “It is the most competitive race we have. You have to qualify to even get a spot, and they only let 70 men and women in out of the 1,250 athletes racing that weekend. Both Asher and Maggie earned their spots and showed why they deserved to be there!”
Going into the race, Brown’s goal was simply to do the best he could.
“My finishing place is better than I thought it would be and sets me up nicely for the next two years at nationals,” he said. “I had a great time competing in the draft-legal race and was happy I had the chance to do so.”
Brown shared that he has a background in running and swimming and always wanted to do a triathlon, but never had a chance to until he arrived at Newman.
“I am super thankful for this team as it is unlike any other sports team I have been on,” he said. “Not only is the sport super unique, having to race three different disciplines all in one race, but my teammates and coach are all amazing people. I loved practicing, traveling and racing with them all season long. My overall takeaway is to keep on pushing no matter how hard things get.”
Similarly, Koenig’s experience competing in the women’s draft-legal triathlon was a great one, albeit different from anything she’d ever done before.
“It was a lot more intense,” she said of the race. “With the possibility of getting kicked out of the race during the 12-mile bike, I had to put a lot more effort in during the swim than normal. Coming from a swimming background in high school, this was not a problem for me. I came out of the water in a place that kept me a safe distance away from the first female, who was already on the bike course. With more to lose on the bike portion, I went as hard as I could until I had finished the three loops, not caring about how bad it hurt.”
She shared that once she got off the bike and started running, her legs were in a lot of pain, but she at least was no longer fighting to stay in the race.
“Once out of transition, I just enjoyed the run as much as I could with the insanely steep hills that were included in the 5K course,” Koenig said. “My only goal going into this race was to finish. And when I got off the bike, I had achieved that goal.”
Koenig added that it’s an honor to be the first woman to finish the race in Newman’s history.
“I hope that there are more females on the team after me who will be able to beat this challenge as well,” she said. “It was really helpful joining a team my first year of college because I knew absolutely no one on campus. Our team provided an initial support system for me as a freshman and gave me a reason to be proud to be a student at Newman.”
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