Mental toughness must flow in Columbus’ water supply because more than 70 student-athletes run, bike and swim for Ohio State’s Triathlon Club.
The Tri-Bucks had their best finish ever at the Collegiate Nationals in Lubbock, Texas, last week.
Each competing school was allowed to enter seven men and seven women in the 1,600-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and lastly, the 10-kilometer run.
OSU’s men’s team placed eighth out of 70 teams, and the women placed 30th out of 50.
Top men finishers were Steve Rosinski at eighth, Ross Hartley at 37th and Robert Craun at 50th out of 456 male racers. Katie Chute and Jennifer Smith both placed in the top 200 out of 327 female competitors.
“In getting ready for nationals. I put in over 300 hours of training,” said Craun, the president of the OSU Triathlon Club. “But some guys put in a lot more.”
Nationals also offered a less-official sprint race, which features shortened events. The weather had other plans for the sprint race as sub-50 degree water temperatures caused race officials to cancel the swimming.
OSU fielded six men and two women for the sprint event and came away with a national runner-up and a national champion.
Rosinski, a third-year in optometry, placed second in the graduate division. Megan Matrka, a fourth-year in finance, was the national champion.
“I can’t swim worth a crap,” she said. “Canceling the swimming helped me but it kind of made it a wimp race.”
Matrka’s toughness is not uncommon in her sport, which is among the fastest growing in the nation, Rosinski said.
“Our members include undergrads, grad students, faculty members and a few alumni,” Craun said. “Even for our coldest winter runs we have upwards of 40 people show up to practice.”
“Not only are we growing in numbers but we’re getting more competitive,” Rosinski said. “Two years ago our team didn’t even crack the top-20.”
The club was started six years ago by a man named Jun Yamaguchi.
“For the first few months he was the only member, running and swimming by himself,” Rosinski said.
Yamaguchi is now a coach for DePaul but he still keeps in contact with the beneficiaries of his club at OSU.
Because triathlon is not an NCAA sport, these Tri-Bucks compete at the highest collegiate level. Some have even higher aspirations.
Ross Hartley plans to make the Olympics someday as one of the top-100 triathletes in the world. Rosinski, who once placed third at the duathlon (run-bike-run) world championships, plans to compete in the Ironman Challenge someday. Quadrathlons have yet to be invented, so he is competing in a Triple-T event in June, which puts racers through four triathlons in one weekend.
But not all triathletes are so intense.
“It’s more of a lifestyle thing,” Craun said. “Because there’s multiple sports, it’s hard to get burnt out on any one thing, and the peak age for triathletes is actually 25-35.”
The OSU Triathlon club meets to run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the RPAC entrance. For swim practice,
they meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the RPAC class pool, and they ride indoor cycles from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays at the RPAC.
As members of the Midwest Collegiate Triathlon Conference, the Tri-Bucks participate in three major races. In addition to collegiate nationals, the indoor winter triathlon pits racers side-by-side on stationary bikes while the Scarlet and Gray triathlon is outdoors in early June.
No triathlon experience is needed to join this club that takes members from various athletic backgrounds. Craun swam and biked a little in high school before becoming addicted to triathlons in college, he said.
Though it’s an individual sport, camaraderie helps triathletes motivate one another.
“When your teammates expect you there, you don’t want to let them down,” Rosinski said. “We’re a team.”