Tempe, Ariz. - The Transylvania women's Triathlon team is set to embark upon the program's second journey to the USA Triathlon Women's Collegiate National Championship, hosted by Arizona State University in and around Tempe Town Lake on Saturday, November 16.
The national championship will include programs from NCAA Division I, II, and III classifications. The Pioneers will be competing against other Division III institutions such as Millikin, North Central, and Trine.
The Pioneers will be led on Saturday by Grayson Bray (Alpharetta, Ga. / Northview HS) and Malauri Edwards (Bremen, Ohio / Lancaster HS), who have both enjoyed tremendous success this season under the guidance of first-year head coach Sean McNulty. Edwards compiled four top-5 finishes this season while Bray captured a fifth-place finish of her own on October 6 at the Tri the Illini event in Champaign, Illinois.
"Grayson has been working so hard and has tuned in some great final workouts; I believe that she can be top 10 in the country and can even crack the top-5 if she pushes past her limits on the bike and run," commented McNulty. "Malauri has been so consistent this year and I know that consistency will continue at nationals. She is one of the best runners in the country, so we need her to be aggressive in the swim and work with Grayson to get out of the water with the lead pack. If she does that, then there is nothing stopping her from finishing the year off on the podium!"
The third member of the Pioneers competing on Saturday for Transylvania is Kiarah Higgins (Lexington, Ky. / Lexington Christian Academy). The freshman's best performance of the season came at the Tri the Illini event, where the freshman finished the race in a time of 1:42:58, including a career-best time of 33:52.8 in the 5K portion of the race. "I am so excited for Kiarah to push herself and enjoy the moment at nationals," said McNulty. "It is a big stage, but she is ready for it."
The trio of Pioneers have grown and improved dramatically throughout the season. However, their best training sessions have come at the most favorable time as Transylvania prepares to compete in this weekend's championship.
"The team is both physically and mentally prepared as we head into nationals," remarked McNulty. "We have been working very hard over the last month and the results of our last key workouts show that the team is in the best shape of the season. It's always a great sign when athletes are setting or getting very close to their personal bests in workouts. Now, as we taper our training, they are feeling rested, sharp, and ready!"
The Pioneers will approach this weekend's race as they would any other competition, despite the elevated stakes. However, Coach McNulty and his team approach this particular event aware of the race's significance and have been training for this event for months.
"The only difference we have going into nationals is that we have to get on a plane instead of driving a van to the race," remarked McNulty. "The team has been visualizing this race since the day they stepped on campus, so they know what it will be like and are ready for it. Even though they are all freshmen, they have the class and composure of juniors or seniors, and that will allow them to be confident when the gun goes off."
Championship Saturday will begin at Tempe Town Lake North Beach with the Division III Championship featuring the Pioneers at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, and 11:30 a.m. local time in Tempe. The day will wrap up with the Division I/Division II championship race to follow.
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