The University of Colorado’s triathlon team boasts 15 national titles during 20 years of existence. 2014 has already been more of the same.
For the fifth straight year, CU triathlon dominated in the national competition after placing first overall in the men’s race and second in the women’s race. Sophomore Rudy Von Berg, 20, became this year’s individual national champion for the men’s competition.
“It’s always great to win races and see how the improvement is coming along,” Von Berg said. “I am so happy to see that the hard training weeks and years are paying off even if I am still far from the top level in the world. But improving in this manner and winning races like collegiate nationals will definitely give me a lot of confidence in my abilities and in my capacity to become one of the best triathletes in the world.”
In the final stretch of the running portion of the race, Von Berg knew he was home free to win the title.
“I was leading the race for the last 30 feet so I knew I was going to win,” he said. “I knew that if everything went to plan I was going to win, so I was very happy to accomplish the mission. And then the finish line was great, the team was there to cheer for me and many other people. It was a good moment.”
Out of the 90 athletes that are currently on the team, 32 made the trip to Tempe, Ariz. to compete. While Von Berg took home the men’s crown, the women also placed very well. Sophomore Rachel Lenz placed sixth in the women’s race, with senior Kasia Rasker coming in right behind her at seventh.
“We have all worked so hard to get to this point in our careers,” Lenz said. “Everyone puts in so many hours of training into this sport, and it is always so exciting when it pays off like this. Knowing that all our hard work has paid off is about the most satisfying feeling in the world. It makes all the early mornings, hard training days, and personal sacrifices we have all made worth it.”
Over the past 20 years, the team’s near-perfect record at nationals has created a Colorado triathlon dynasty. Although he will be graduating in December, senior Jesse Frank believes this standard of excellence will carry over to students who will join the team in years to come.
“I see us continuing to work hard and strive to be the best that we can be,” Frank said. “Each and every year the competition gets better. As long as we continue to work hard and have fun, we’ll be right where we need to be.”
Lenz agreed but added that ensuring the success of future teams would be no easy task.
“CU triathlon is a very strong group,” she said. “There is a lot of talent on the team, but we still know that we can’t take our successes for granted. We are so thrilled about this fifth consecutive title, but we also know that we have a target on our backs from other teams. We have just as much work to do in our next season if we want to continue our success. We have to earn it.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alissa Noe at Alissa.firstname.lastname@example.org.