Among the many sports that ETSU provides for athletes, one that many may not know about is the women’s triathlon team. Funding of the program was started by the USA Triathlon Foundation, and ETSU is one of eight schools to receive this recognition.
The components of the triathlon are swimming, biking and running. Athletes start off with a 750-meter swim, followed by a 20K bike portion and end with a 5K run. It is a dangerous sport that requires a lot of mental and physical dedication.
The team, which began competing in 2016 with only five matches, is led by coach Janine Pleasant who graduated from ETSU in 1986. Coach Pleasant actually competed in her first triathlon in 1998.
It is still a fairly new sport with less than a decade under its belt in the NCAA, but it is starting to grow as the exposure connects with new viewers.
Last season, the Bucs had a strong season finishing second in three meets. Among those, their top two finishes were at the National Championships, showing how well Pleasant has turned this program into a national championship contender in such a short time.
This season, the Bucs return four players from last year who are sophomores and adding five freshmen on the roster. The Bucs hosted their first triathlon event this season, where freshman Lane McDonald (South Bend, Indiana) finished in sixth place.
For Pleasant, the event was a warm-up for the Bucs’ first real test at the Central Regional qualifier. The Bucs hosted the qualifier, their first official NCAA meet, back in September at Watauga Lake.
The Bucs had five players finish in the top 20 of the qualifier meet, lead by McDonald who finished the meet in second place. Sophomore Morgan James (Clovis, California) joined her in the top five and finished the meet in fifth place.
The Bucs’ most recent meet was on Oct. 20 at the East Regional qualifier, a meet in which the Bucs claimed second place behind Arizona State University.
Up next for the Bucs is the NCAA Championships scheduled on Nov. 4, where the Bucs look to take home their first championship since the team was chartered.