Arizona State University goes for fifth-straight national title as sport tries to get official NCAA status

Arizona State University's Kyla Roy wins the 2019 Collegiate National Championship. Photo: Nils Nilsen

The USA Triathlon National Collegiate Triathlon Championships takes place tomorrow in Tempe, Arizona, and the host Arizona State University (ASU) team will be going after a fifth-straight national title.

The stacked ASU team includes the defending national champion Kyla Roy along with two-time national champ Hannah Henry. The silver medalist from 2019, Audrey Ernst, also races for ASU. ASU has won every national championship since 2016, the first season of NCAA triathlon racing.

Triathlon was approved as an “Emerging Sport for Women for NCAA Division 1, Division II and Division III member institutions” in 2014. To become a full-fledged championship sport there needs to be 40 universities offering triathlon programs – to date there are 37. Another team is expected to be announced soon, and USA Triathlon chief sport development officer Tim Yount is confident triathlon will reach 40-teams in the next few years. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented a few universities from starting programs.

“It’s all about timing,” Yount told Mackenzie Schweickart from Arizona State University. “We would’ve hit 40 about a year and a half ago, and sometimes there’s just bad luck and timing.”

“Women’s triathlon becoming a NCAA Championship sport is an important step in not only continuing to help triathlon grow in popularity and participation, but also in providing competitive opportunities for young women,” Yount continued.

You can find a list of the universities that offer triathlon programs here

While ASU has won the last four Division I titles, Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina has won the last five Division II titles, and North Central College, Illinois, has won the last four Division III titles.

The women compete over the sprint distance – a 750 m swim, 20 km bike and a 5 km run.