The collegiate national championships will show on CBS Sports Network Friday night, April 29. Full race results at usatriathlon.org.
Though the Buffs won have won the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships before — this is their 12th title — the win was hardly routine.
“We had a few glitches on Saturday,” said coach Mike Ricci. “But things worked out OK.”
Those glitches included a flat tire that didn’t get fixed — Bryn Morales, who Ricci guesses would’ve finished in the top 10, rode 18 miles on the flat and placed 63rd — and time pentalties that cost some Buffs but rewarded another, graduate student Rudy Kahsar.
Though he wasn’t the first across the line, Kahsar took the men’s title. Dustin McLarty, of University of California-Irvine, crossed first but was penalized two minutes for a position violation (not riding on the right side of the road) on the bike.
“It’s definitely not how I would like to have won,” Kahsar said. “But I’ve talked to a lot of people about it since then, and there’s nothing I can do about it, and there’s nothing Dustin can do about it.”
Going into the bike, Kahsar was two minutes behind McLarty, but by the end of the ride, he had a two minute lead on him.
“I went all-in on the bike,” Kahsar said.
“I’ve never been so emotionally invested in a race, because of everything I put into it, and it really is the biggest race I do every year,” he said. (Though this is his first year at Colorado, he competed as an undergrad at University of Virginia.) “And when I was up two minutes, all I was thinking about was all the reasons I wanted to win, and all I’d done to get here now.”
But during the run, Kahsar said he made a mistake. At water stations, he tossed water onto his face to beat the 90-degree Alabama heat. But he didn’t drink.
“Mile four, it really hit me and my pace started to slow down,” he said. “My pace dropped from about 5:30 to 7 minute (mile) pace around mile five, and Dustin passed me around mile 5.5, and it was the worst feeling.”
“We could see the amphitheater, it was right at the end,” he added.
Kahsar crossed the line, hit the tents, puked. Then officials came up to tell him that due to the time penalty on McLarty, he’d won.
“It was such a roller coaster — going from the worst possible way to lose at the end, and then telling me that I won? I was like, ‘I don’t even believe you,'” he said.
His teammates Chris Braden and Ryan Bice drew penalties for drafting and ended up in fourth and fifth respectively.
“These guys are all so close,” Ricci said. “In the original standings before the penalties, they were two-three-four.”
The men won the overall; the CU women came in third. The combination brought the Buffs’ points total well into the lead to take the overall championship.
Ricci said he’s hopeful the team has another solid year ahead of them for 2011-12 — none of the students are graduating and leaving.
“We aren’t losing anybody next year,” Ricci said.