North Central Women’s Triathlon Season Recap: two Cardinals finish on the podium at the national championships.
Hailey Poe Leading the Pack
The North Central women’s triathlon team had a very successful season, as has become the norm in the team’s six year existence. For all the accolades and victories over the last few months, it was all building up to nationals in Tempe, Arizona where the Cardinals hoped to win their fourth straight Division 3 National Title
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. But the Cardinals still topped the podium as freshman Hailey Poe captured the individual national title with a time of one hour, twelve minutes and one second, an impressive 55 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
Hailey Poe, North Central Triathlon Freshman: “I really felt like I was in the zone during that race. It was the best mentally prepared I have ever been for a race. We did so much as a team to make sure we knew the course really well. Visualization activities and practicing on the course the two days leading up to the race. So even though I had never raced on the course in Arizona before, I felt like while I was racing on it like I knew it better than any course that I had raced on before. So my mind was very in the zone during the race, I didn’t have to think much about where I was going just pushing through it and giving it my all.”
“I knew I gave that race everything that I had so it was an amazing feeling to finish in first. I had my whole family there at the race and I had their support the whole time. Just to hear them on the course cheering for me was so awesome because I haven’t heard their voices for a few months now. Also just being able to finish and watch my teammates come into the schute after me was an amazing feeling. I was laying on the ground after, really wiped out. Seeing Ani after the race, watching her finish and then come up to be right away that’s the epitome of an amazing team and that support that we have for each other. So her support after the race really helped me as well as all of the other girls.”
Cotner Comes Back From a Crash
Senior Annika Cotner also made the podium with a third-place finish. That wouldn’t have been a surprise before the race, but a crash during the biking portion required an incredible effort by Cotner in her final collegiate race to sprint to the finish with a time of one hour, thirteen minutes and forty-two seconds
Annika Cotner, North Central Triathlon Senior: “I crashed and I got back on pretty instantly. I didn’t really think about it, I knew that I was gonna get back on. I don’t think I necessarily realized the extent of pain that I probably was in but I was a little angry, I guess, that I had crashed. The girls in front of me were probably only ten seconds ahead at that time so I got back on really quickly, my seat had totally taken a 90-degree turn, it was pushing my seat back into place and doing the best I could to bike and get on the run. The run’s my favorite part so luckily that’s what I had left”
HP: “She’s an amazing cyclist, I’m so proud of her forall of her hard work during that race especially after crashing. Once I found out she crashed and still had that amazing race, just to have her up on the podium ther with me was a feeling thats undescribable.”
Partners in Crime
While they of course would have liked to win as a team, it was fitting for the senior and freshman, who train together and having been trading race victories all season, to be side-by-side at the top when all was said and done.
HP: “That was amazing. Ani has been my training partner through the whole season and she’s pushed me in so many aspects of training, especially on the bike.”
AC: “Hailey had an awesome race. It’s been super fun training with her, racing with her. Super rewarding to kind of finish this season together.”
HP: “I definitely hope to repeat in my future. I want to repeat as national champion as much as I can. But also my goal in the future is to have two teammates up on the podium with me. Two girls from North Central, all three of us sharing the podium together would be epic. So if we could build up the program like that, that would be amazing.”
The team is taking this in stride, and Poe is just one of several young members of this North Central triathlon team who have the talent to return the Cardinals to the apex of the sport at this level.
Looking to the Future
Cotner hopes she’s done everything she can to help the team succeed in the future, while Poe is determined to find ways to continue to improve and excel with a national championship already under her belt.
AC: “I guess I haven’t let it sink in that it’s over, for at least my collegiate career. This sport and this team has given me so many opportunities. We’ve traveled all over the United States. The relationships that you make with the team and the coaches are relationships that last forever. It’s been an awesome opportunity.”
AC: “Hopefully I’ve left a good foundation of what it’s like to be a leader on this team. I think all of the girls have really good leadership skills as is. They all work really hard, I think it’s sort of the foundation that Coach Garrison and Coach Kurt [sp?] have set up for this team…that we work hard and we all show good leadership skills and I don’t doubt that those girls will continue to do so so they can come back and win another national title.”
HP: “All of the girls are super dedicated and hard working to our craft. So I think our placement at nationals this year has given us an even bigger boost to want to excel next year. We have some great recruits coming in next year that will help shape this program even more. So I’m excited for them to join in on our team dynamic and really help us. But the girls we had this year did an excellent job and I think they’re going to excel even more next year. We’re all great friends and we inspire each other in everything that we do. So I think we’re even more motivated to go out and win by a ton next year.”