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Unwavering support leads to success for CSU triathlon club

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Collegian File Photo

Most athletes at Colorado State are focused on one sport, but there is a little-known club sport at CSU that focuses on three.

Not only that, but it’s one of the most successful club sports, placing second for women’s and third for men’s and mixed in their most recent competition.

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“We’ve got a really strong group.” –Zachary Pickle, triathlon club president

This sport combines biking, running and swimming — each sport vital during competition season. Despite the challenging demands of the sport, the team is known for its support.

“Everyone’s there on some aspect to challenge themselves, and everybody acknowledges that,” said Alec Shields, the team’s travel safety officer. “No one cares about your times; people care about you putting yourself out there.” 

Shields was unable to finish nationals last season due to a flat bike tire, but his teammates were there for him. 

“It’s just a really supportive, fun group of people,” President Zachary Pickle said. “We were all there to support him. Stuff like that happens.”

The team is not only united but accomplished. Over the past two seasons, the team has placed within the top five at nationals, with an opportunity to do so for a third season this April. 

“It would be really cool to match that,” Pickle said. “Our team has potential to do well this year. We’ve got a really strong group.”

Twenty-eight of the 30 active members on the team are going to nationals this year, which is more than they had last season, and they will be led by coach Jonathan Mason. 

Mason has been coaching the triathlon team since 2011, previously teaching ROTC on campus.

“Triathlon is just you against the clock and yourself, which I love because a lot of my team, they can come from all these different sports, but it’s really just you competing internally,” Mason said.

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Despite people thinking they might not be a good fit for the sport, everyone has tried it once — maybe not all at the same time, but it has been a part of their life.

“It’s those three things that we do as a kid,” Mason said. “A lot of people don’t have a lacrosse ball or a basketball. Everybody grows up with running shoes and a bike.” 

Mason said the team accepts anyone who wants to explore the sport more and try it on a collegiate level.

“You can have no skills or no experience with the sport as a freshman coming in,” Mason said.

The team is only on their second season back after the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the shutdown, most of the officers graduated, leaving the remaining members to learn positions without guidance. 

“We were pretty much the only underclassmen that were on the team,” Treasurer Jessica Zoormajian said. “All the other people were either seniors graduating or students who don’t really have time to be officers.” 

Zoormajian’s cousin used to be the president, helping her get used to being officer on the team, but she and Shields still had a large learning curve. 

“We can help train the next treasurer and travel officer so that they have really good guidance,” Zoormajian said. 

The three officers plan to continue participating in triathlon after graduation, the sport following them for the rest of their lives.

“I just love being part of a team (and) having something to train for and not just mindlessly training on my own, and the community that we have on the team has just kept me going through it,” Zoormajian said.

Most athletes come into the sport only having practiced one of the three during high school or before. One of the ways the team continuously strengthens their bond is by learning the sports together and continuing to practice as a team.

“I think (triathlon) can be super difficult but in a super fun way,” Zoormajian said. “And the support that we give each other … on the team honestly is what keeps me going.” 

Reach Sophie Webb at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @sophgwebb.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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