TUSCALOOSA, AL - On Saturday, April 21, six varsity Williams athletes traveled 19 hours by van to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to compete as a team for the first time in the National Collegiate Triathlon Championships presented by USA Triathlon.
The Eph competitors included members of three distinct Williams teams. John Armstrong, Davis Filippell, Liam Gallagher, and Greg McElroy represented the varsity swim team. Erik Anderson and Dimitri Luethi represented the varsity nordic ski team. Filippell also represented the varsity cross country team. These six individuals each successfully completed an Olympic distance triathlon – 1500m swim followed by 40 kilometer bike followed by a 10 kilometer run.
In a field primarily consisting of teams operating at NCAA Division I schools, these Williams athletes strongly represented the training and ability of their respective Eph teams. The event was scored by totaling the finishing places of the top four competitors, with competitors finishing 5th through 7th being placeholders - lowest scores being best.
The Eph squad was the top finishing team from a Little 3 school and NESCAC school. It was also the 6th highest finishing team from a NCAA Division III school. Overall, the team placed 57th out of 75 teams.
The team's ability to qualify and attend the event was its first achievement. This National Collegiate Championship accepts teams who qualify through regional conferences - the NECTC in Williams's case. Because each of these Eph competitors were focused in their respective varsity seasons, the club was unable to send a team to the regional qualifier. Instead, the club was able to successfully petition the NECTC conference to use previous competition times from several members in order to secure one of the sought after 'at-large' bids to the national championship. Finally, to help make the trip a logistical reality, the team owes special gratitude to college council members Kate Flanagan and April Jenkins for their help in letting these Eph athletes follow their passion.
Davis Filippell '12 was the first Eph to cross the finish line in a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 38 seconds to finish 155st out of 538 total competitors. He was followed by Dimitri Luethi '12, who passed 200 people on the bike and running legs to finish in 271st with a time of 2:23:09. Erik Anderson '12 was the third Eph to cross the line in a time of 2:28:26. Next was distance swimming leader John Armstrong '13 who used his strength in swimming to record the 37th fastest split on that leg - a start that propelled him to a time of 2:45:01. Swim team captain Greg McElroy '12 was the fifth Eph across the line in 2:47:40. A sprint specialist, he demonstrated his speed by chasing down a Colorado University competitor in the last 20 meters of the race. Finally, Liam Gallagher overcame a long delay due to a flat tire on the bike to still record a strong finish for the Ephs in 2:51:24.
The experience certainly brought these varsity athletes together. It also allowed them to gain a new appreciation for each other's respective disciplines. According to Filippell, "I really could not ask for a better team. We had several different sports represented and many people had only met in passing before the event. The fact that we were able to come together as a group really made the whole event worthwhile."
Although this event was a club competition, the success of these individuals demonstrated the drive for varsity Williams athletes to excel in athletics above and beyond their respective seasons. It also highlighted the commitment for Eph athletes to strengthen relationships between different Williams teams.
With junior John Armstrong and sophomore Liam Gallagher leading the Eph Triathlon Club it is in strong hands for the foreseeable future. The team looks forward to developing into a larger presence among the varsity athletics community at Williams College and bettering itself in future competitions.