Women’s triathlon finishes fifth in National Championship meet

Margaret Connelly, Ellery Kiefer and Molly Cross

Patrick Bell

Margaret Connelly, Ellery Kiefer and Molly Cross

In their first year as a program at NVU-J, the women’s triathlon team placed fifth at the Division III National Championship, which was held in Tempe, Arizona.

Senior Margaret Connelly came in eighth, posting team-best times for the 20k bike ride and the 5k run. Sophomore Ellery Kiefer finished 14th and had the team-best time in the swimming portion of the event. Seniors Molly Cross and Ashley Wood had strong times as well, finishing in 29th and 30th place.

This was after they were named West Regional Champions at an event that took place in Colorado.

Women’s triathlon is a sport that was introduced to NCAA athletics as an in 2014. Because the sport is in the beginning stages, the team received a grant from USA Triathlon so that it can continue as a sport. This allowed for the women’s triathlon team to travel to Colorado and Arizona.

Starting off the season with an inexperienced squad, the first couple weeks were more about teaching the sport.

“We had three races in a row. So the first three weeks were just for trying to get used to the sport,” Connelly said. “We trained six days a week and then have meets on the weekends, so during the week, we wouldn’t have super heavy training, it was more just getting used to it. None of us had done triathlon before.”

Kiefer notes that before one of their first races of the season they were learning how to do transitions from biking to running and how to clip into a bike the day of the race.

Leading this triathlon team is first year head coach Kim Loeffler. She is new to this program but she isn’t new to this sport as she has competed as a triathlete to the point where she was internationally ranked. As a coach, she has earned high praise from her team.

“She’s super positive,” Cross said. “It’s nice to have someone to look up to. She tells us about stories about herself and the competitions she’s participated in. She has done Iron Man races and has been top eight in the world. So it makes us want to do more.”

One of the techniques that she teaches her team is the ability to use less energy to stay ahead in races.

“This is draft legal, so when you are swimming, you can use 30 percent less energy if you’re drafting off someone, and in biking, it’s 20 percent, Connelly said. “What that means is if someone is swimming, and I’m right behind them, I’m in their slipstream. I’m barely even working, I’m going 70 percent but I am going just as fast as them.”

“So you want to be right on their feet,” said Kiefer. “And the same thing with the bike. If your bike tires are a couple inches behind that tire, it’s like you’re not doing anything and you can kind work less.”

The environment around NVU-J is ideal for training for the triathlon team.

Kiefer notes that during practice, they will have to bike and run up and down the hills on campus, which for them is tougher than the actual competition. For the swimming training, they have been practicing in the SHAPE pool, which has worked well.

Athletics and Recreation Office Assistant Cara Hancy has been helping the team with swim techniques and the team has said that it’s been very helpful.

One of Cross’ favorite things to tell people is that they biked up Smuggler’s Notch at one point during the season.

Going forward, Loeffler hopes to bring in more female athletes to participate in triathlon as it continues to rise as a sport. Her players note that she is recruiting athletes that have already participated in triathlons before.

Being the only university in New England that offer a women’s triathlon team has its advantages, as it can grab top triathletes in the area to compete at NVU-J.