With five seasonal competitions behind them, the men and women’s triathlon team is going into nationals strong.
Senior Brandon Steiner has been a triathlete since Newman put together its very first team in 2016 when it consisted of just four students.
“I’ve invested a lot in myself through triathlons, and it’s really what has made me the person I am today, in a way,” Steiner said. “As a senior, I want to grow the underclassmen as much as possible and boost their confidence. I want to leave a positive mark on the large freshmen group that will be the future of the team.”
Newman triathlon has placed in the top three teams at every competition this year, and the triathletes don’t plan to let up now.
All 14 members of the team qualified for nationals including those who just joined at the beginning of the semester.
Head Triathlon Coach Jeff Lovgren said seeing the team grow has been an incredible experience.
“We started with four athletes three years ago and will have close to 20 next year,” Lovgren said. “It is a sport that I love and am happy that I have found athletes that share that love. It just makes it so much fun to be a part of when everyone loves what they are doing.”
Lovgren received many blank stares when he spoke with recruits about triathlon the year it started at Newman, he said.
“It is not common in Kansas,” he added. “But now that we have a program to show them, interest is increasing.”
Freshman Marlie Wagner was on campus to apply for a scholarship when she was invited to watch the team practice.
“I really liked the dedication the coach and team showed,” Wagner said. “I thought it would be an interesting challenge and unique experience. Honestly, I had no plans to become a student-athlete because of the work it necessitates, but it’s one of the best decisions I made.”
Training for a triathlon requires hours of dedication, intensive physical and mental training and discipline, both in and out of practice. Athletes must pay close attention to what they eat, how often they stay hydrated and how much rest they need to ensure their best performances.
Wagner said each of her teammates is preparing for nationals by working to overcome any challenges he or she is facing.
“Everybody is pushing themselves extremely hard,” she said. “Hopefully, everyone on the team will improve their times at nationals and have the possibility to place, either individually or as a team.”
The triathlon team will represent Newman at the national competitions April 5-6 in Tempe, Arizona, competing in three races.
“I cannot say enough about what a great group they are,” Lovgren said. “The athletes always come to practice ready to work and always give everything they have. They are the reason this program is growing.”