Louisville, Ky. — UofL Cycling and UofL Triathlon have historic weekend, earning three wins, two podiums, and two top-10 finishes simultaneously. Mark Renn earned wins in the Down Hill and Four-Cross disciplines in St. Louis, Mo. while Rikus Van Zyl rode to the top spot in a cyclocross race in Cincinnati, Oh. UofL Triathlon earned two top-10 finishes in Dayton, Oh.
Mark Renn opened up the MWCCC collegiate mountain bike season with dominating wins in the B class downhill and dual slalom events hosted by Lindenwood University. Renn’s downhill time of 2:52 would have placed him in 4th in the A class, a handful of seconds outside the podium. Renn is trying to become the first Cardinal to qualify and compete in the USA Cycling collegiate MTB nationals. To see the full MTB results, click Here.
In Dayton, UofL Triathlon competed in the University of Dayton Sprint Triathlon. Mike Baird led the Cardinals with a 4th place finish, gaining time on his opponents with the fastest transitions in the top-5 finishers. Newly added athlete Nick Reader sprung ahead into 6th place overall with the second-fastest run of the day, averaging 5:29/mile. Emma Coakley continues to outswim the competition, finishing the first leg 1st in the women and 4th overall. She went on to finish 10th in the women’s field. Evan Cruson and Sam Dugan finished their first triathlons for UofL Triathlon 24th and 29th respectively with breakthrough bike legs. To see full Triathlon results, click Here.
The UofL Cycling cyclocross initiative hit the season opener in Cincinnati successfully with Rikus Van Zyl winning the Cat 5 race while Jacob Holtgrewe rounded out the podium in 3rd. John Francisco finished 3rd in the Elite/1/2 race while equipment troubles dropped Ben King to 49th in the same race. To see the full results of Harbin Park, click Here.
This is the first time the SCC has been split into three races in three disciplines.
UofL Cycling and Triathlon are supported by Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
Muncie, Ind. — Building on Mike Baird’s 2nd place finish at Michigan State, Cards earn a top-25 in the Men’s event and a top-15 in the Women’s group. The unique distance Muncie Man Triathlon served as the MECTC Conference Championship.
The difficult Muncie Man Triathlon featured a 1.5k swim, a 61.8k bike, and a 15k run. An Olympic triathlon typically consists of a 1.5 k swim, 40k bike, and a 10k run.
With double MECTC point-values at stake, Cardinals Mike Baird, Rikus Van Zyl, Nicole Knapp, and Emma Coakley turned out excellent results for the new team. Baird led the group in 23rd place with a time of 2:26:16, saving the day with swift transitions and dashing bike and run legs. Van Zyl, best known for his memorable performances for UofL Cycling, finished 39th in the men’s field of 63. His best leg of the race was the bike, with a time of 1:11:19.
Nicole Knapp led the women with a 15th place finish, pushing ahead with an overall time of 2:56:13. Knapp excelled in the run with a time of 48:15, placing herself in 2nd place behind eventual winner Elaine Sheikh of Michigan State. Emma Coakley slotted in at 31st in the women’s category, blazing ahead to 15th overall in the swim portion, 2nd in the women’s group only behind Meredith Bell from the University of Michigan.
Previously, Mike Baird finished 2nd overall in the Michigan State Spartan Sprint Triathlon on August 15. Baird became the first UofL Triathlon athlete to compete in the MECTC since the team was reinstated.
At the time of publication, the conference standings had not been updated. UofL Triathlon sits in 14th place ahead of Purdue University. The team is preparing to race at the University of Dayton Sprint Triathlon on Sunday, September 13th, in Dayton, Ohio.
UofL Triathlon is a partner of UofL Cycling and is operated by the Student Cycling Coalition, Presented by Evergreen Rehabilitation.
“I’m addicted to triathlons now!” said Jacob Holtgrewe with a bright, wide smile. “My favorite thing is being able to do three different activities all in one competition. I got to take advantage of different skills and put them together.” In his first ever triathlon, a sprint distance triathlon in Shelbyville, Ky., Holtgrewe finished second in his ‘18-25 men’ age group.
What makes Holtgrewe special? He is 19 years old, a number that defies a dominant trend of the sport of triathlon: in 2013, of all athletes that entered a race in the United States, 65% were between the ages of 30 and 49. Only 7% of the total athletes in the sport were under 25 years old.
Holtgrewe, along with several other students at the University of Louisville, are part of the Student Cycling Coalition, the parent organization of UofL Cycling, which was formed last year, and UofL Triathlon, which was formed this winter. Josh Goodman, a cyclist and founding member of the Student Cycling Coalition says, “Triathlon is an important part of our organization. It has a broader appeal than just cycling, so it can help bring in a much more diverse group of athletes.” Enter Holtgrewe.
Like many other freshmen, Holtgrewe looked for a way to get involved. A former soccer player, he looked for ways to stay physically active. He met Evan Cruson, the head of UofL Triathlon and Vice-President of the Student Cycling Coalition, through a personal connection and was quickly recruited to try out the new sport. “I just learned how to swim in January,” said Holtgrewe with a laugh. He was taught to swim by Cruson with the end goal of competing in the Shelbyville Triathlon. “I would not have been able to do it without my teammates who trained with me and taught me about swimming, biking, and running.”
However, Holtgrewe is not alone in the growth and expanding youth of the organization. Mike Baird, a 21 year-old junior at the university and experienced triathlete, transferred to UofL from Union College in Kentucky and began competing for the club, earning the overall win at the same triathlon. In an earlier race this year, Audrey Duke and Nicole Knapp went 2nd and 3rd in the women’s 18-25 category.
In a recent interview, Goodman said he isn’t necessarily concerned about youth, but about equality. “I would say triathlon helps increase female participation. For some reason a stigma exists that women don’t race bikes, but they like to do triathlons.” Goodman is right, the Olympic cycling development organization, USA Cycling, reported in its annual survey that only 15% of bike racers are women. This figure pales in comparison to the USA Triathlon figure of 40% female triathlon participation.
Adding triathlon has helped even out participation in the Student Cycling Coalition. In 2014, its inaugural year, the SCC had no female athletes, and a roster of 20 members that participated in three cycling-only disciplines: road, mountain, and cyclocross. When triathlon was added, UofL Triathlon brought in 20 members of its own, boosting the general membership to 44 members, including 12 women. According to USA Cycling and USA Triathlon, the members of collegiate cycling and triathlon clubs must be full-time status students as dictated by the institution. At UofL, graduate students performing research and any undergraduate with at least 12 credit hours stands as full-time. Goodman was ecstatic when he saw the Student Cycling Coalition grow, saying, “I’m excited that triathlon is branching the organization out more and getting more people on bikes!”
As far as race experience, UofL Triathlon has yet to truly test its race legs. The team will begin collegiate competition in the USA Triathlon sponsored Mid-East Collegiate Triathlon Conference, also known as MECTC, in the fall. It includes any collegiate team in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and now, Kentucky. In the official announcement of UofL Triathlon in the organization’s website, UofLcycling.com, the team points out it is the only registered collegiate triathlon team in the state of Kentucky. “It is a new way to put UofL on the map,” says cycling coordinator John Francisco.
Members of the organization are responsible for buying their training and race equipment, such as bikes, helmets, and shoes. “The barrier of entry to cycling and triathlon is pretty high, given how expensive the equipment can get,” says Francisco. “That is why we have a partner bike shop and industry sponsors that offer discounts to the team members.” However, going beyond personal equipment, funding for the organization comes from local business sponsors such as the Louisville-based care company, Evergreen Rehabilitation, to pay for races and racing expenses. “Racing can be expensive,” says Francisco. Collegiate cycling races cost $15 per entry, and triathlons cost $35, figures much cheaper than the average prices of $35 and $100 respectively for age-group races like the Shelbyville Triathlon that Holtgrewe entered. Then add travel expenses and expansive collegiate race seasons of 8 events in 4 disciplines each, and funding the hobby becomes daunting for a college student. In return for their investments in the team, sponsors get logos placed on the team jerseys.
When asked about how he recruits members for the team, Josh Goodman said, “I look for any person that is interested in getting fit, working hard, and being a good teammate. With those qualities, the possibilities are endless for what they and this team can accomplish.” Cruson put it just as eloquently, saying, “When recruiting, I look for anyone with a pulse. The brilliance of the sport is that it is for anyone.”
Louisville, Ky – SCC triathlete Mike Baird wins the men’s 15 mile Louisville Lovin’ The Hills event while Nicole Knapp finds the podium in the women’s 6 mile race. Louisville Lovin’ The Hills is an annual trail run held at the Jefferson Memorial Forest in Louisville. Cardinals Evan Cruson and Jacob Holtgrewe also competed, finishing 12th and 13th in the 15 mile event.
On the warm and sunny February day, the hilly course challenged the runners with over 2,500 ft of climbing in the 15 mile course. Mike Baird battled for first place the entire race with Ron Brooks. After catching his breath, he said “I definitely couldn’t have pushed as hard without Ron who was just steps behind me the entire race.” Baird appreciated the warm weather and the great course. “I couldn’t have asked for better conditions to compete in against some of the best trail runners in the area. It was an awesome day overall!”
Nicole Knapp was surprised by the difficulty of the course. “Those hills were the most challenging hills I’ve ever seen. I definitely did not anticipate their magnitude.” She went on to finish 3rd in the women’s 5 mile race. “[It was] very humbling and worth the fight!”
Evan Cruson and Jacob Holtgrewe put in solid efforts finishing in 12th and 13th in the 15 mile event. Cruson, the new SCC Triathlon Coordinator, enjoyed the support from Cardinal fans throughout the course, “Everyone loved the UofL jackets. Jacob and I were constantly getting positive comments from runners on the trail.” The pair spent a large part of their time socializing and telling people about the SCC. “People had many questions about the club so we are really getting noticed out there.”
The full gallery of the event can be found on Head First Performance’s website.