Millikin’s Triple Threats

Alex A. Kennedy

5:00 a.m. is usually the time for students to grasp at a few extra hours of sleep before class, or for classmates pulling all-nighters, it is the final stretch to finish last-minute assignments. However, for nine women it is the time they set their alarms to wake up for practice. 

Millikin’s triathlon team started last year in the fall of 2018, with Molly Duesterhaus as the head coach and five original triathletes. Last year, Millikin demolished expectations by placing third at Nationals. This season, Duesterhaus has four new triathletes, two more members in the coaching staff, and high expectations for this season’s victorious run.  

Triathlon is a three-legged race that starts with swimming before switching over to biking and finishing with running. There are several distances for triathlons, with seven different types ranging from sprints to a full. Millikin triathletes are mostly accustomed to sprints. 

A sprint triathlon is around 16 miles long, starting with a .5 mile (750 meter) swim before switching to 12.3 miles (20 kilometers) of biking and finishing with 3.2 miles (5 kilometers) of running. Larger triathlons can last for just over 100 miles, and that is just the biking portion. 

The running leg is the length of a full marathon, and the swimming portion last over two miles. 

The roster for this year’s team has expanded not only in athletes, but in coaching staff as well. Duesterhaus will continue to be the head coach for triathletes as well as head coach for the Millikin swim team.  

Joining the coaching staff is Grace Van Ryckeghem and Aron Heathcock. Ryckeghem will also be the new assistant coach for the swim team alongside Duesterhaus. Heathcock will be the biking coach for the triathletes. Heathcock also owns the running and bike shop on Wood Street. 

This year, four new freshmen have joined the triathlon team, bringing the team up to nine people. Morgan Powers is the only senior on the team, and she is planning on continuing her education in medicine at graduate school. There is one junior, Elizabeth Schager, who is studying nursing. 

The sophomore class includes Brigid Duesterhaus, Jaden Lockard, and Hope Roderick. Brigid is majoring in communications, Lockard is a nursing student, and Roderick is studying early childhood development therapy. 

Finally, the freshman class consists of biology majors Morgan Rockwell, Fiona Rosko, and Sarahi Villafana. The last freshman triathlete is Kaitlin Yelaska, studying human services. 

Many of the triathletes are dual-athletes, and they continue to practice their activities by swimming during and after triathlon season. Dual-athletes make up over 80% of the triathlon team. 

The team can be seen practicing around Decatur. They bike around the streets, circling laps around Millikin. They swimming at the YMCA with the swim team in the mornings, and they run when they can find the time. 

The triathlon season started in August and will continue through Oct. 19, when they compete at the NCAA East Qualifiers. Depending on placement after that race, the season may continue until the next competition. East qualifiers will be held at Huddleston, Virginia, on Saturday, Oct. 19. 

So far, Millikin’s triathletes have competed in three of their four competitions, the first being on Sept. 1 at the NCAA Central Qualifier. Millikin’s team was able to place third with a total of 28 points, beating out Milwaukee’s School of Engineering and Concordia University Wisconsin. 

The following week, triathlon had a dual-meet event against Calvin College where they took home a victorious title. Leading the Millikin pack at both events was Morgan Powers, Millikin’s senior triathlete, while dropping time at both meets. 

As the triathlon season comes to an end, wish the team luck on their last race. Good luck triathlon, we know you all will do great. 

Go big blue!