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Triathlon reaches 40-school milestone required for full NCAA status

Cal Poly Humboldt announces new program to start this fall

Photo by: Barrie Shepley

The news that Cal Poly Humboldt in Arcata, Calif., will offer a women’s triathlon program in the fall means that the sport has met one of the milestones required for it to become a full-fledged NCAA program. Humboldt becomes the 40th school to offer a program – in 2014 triathlon became an “NCAA Emerging Sport for Women,” which meant it had 10 years to “demonstrate sustainability and success at the NCAA varsity level.” One of the parameters was to have at least 40 schools offer the program.

There are more steps to be reached including “committee, council, divisional and budget approvals,” but today’s announcement is a huge step.

“This is a monumental moment for not only Cal Poly Humboldt and the sport of triathlon, but also for women’s sports,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “It’s fitting we’ve hit this milestone on the 50th anniversary of Title IX as this sends a resounding message across the country that women’s sports are thriving.”

Humboldt will be the 17th Division II program in the country, and is the second California university to offer triathlon, joining the University of San Francisco (pictured above at last year’s NCAA championship).

Canada’s Kira Gupta-Baltazar, who is part of the San Francisco program, won last year’s NCAA championship and helped her team to a runner-up finish. Canadians have won the last four NCAA titles – Arizona State University’s Hannah Henry won in 2017 and 2018, with her teammate Kyla Roy winning the 2019 title. (Henry finished second behind Gupta-Baltazar last year.) Arizona State, which is coached by Canadian Cliff English, has been dominant at the NCAA championships since its inception, winning all five national titles, but the San Francisco program came close to knocking ASU from the top of the podium, placing three athletes in the top four overall.

Kyla Roy wins the 2019 NCAA Triathlon Championship. Photo: Nils Nilsen

“Humboldt’s addition of women’s triathlon was made possible through a grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation as well as a donation from the IRONMAN Foundation,” USA Triathlon reported in a press release today. “The USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the varsity level.”   

“Getting to this point has been a 13-year process with contributions from so many,” said Tim Yount, USA Triathlon Chief Sport Development Officer. “Throughout this process Cal Poly Humboldt has shown their dedication to not only supporting a triathlon program but also investing in its continued success.” 

Women’s triathlon takes place in the fall with athletes competing over the sprint distance – 750 m swim, a draft-legal 20 km bike and 5 km run.

Women’s Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs:

NCAA Division I (9)
Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.)
Delaware State University (Dover, Del.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.)
Hampton University (Hampton, Va.)
Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Texas)
University of Denver (Denver, Colo.)
University of San Francisco (San Francisco. Calif.)
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.)
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.)

NCAA Division II (17)
American International College (Springfield, Mass.)
Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.)
Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.)

Cal Poly Humboldt (Arcata, Calif.)
Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo.)
Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.)
Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V.)
Drury University (Springfield, Mo.)
Emmanuel College (Franklin Springs, Ga.)
King University (Bristol, Tenn.) 

Lake Superior State University (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)
Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory, N.C.)
Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont.)
Newberry College (Newberry, S.C.)
Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.)
Wingate University (Wingate, N.C.)

NCAA Division III (14)
Alvernia University (Reading, Pa.)
Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Central College (Pella, Iowa)
Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.)
Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.)
Greensboro College (Greensboro, N.C.)
Guilford College (Greensboro, N.C.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.)
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.)
Northern Vermont University-Johnson (Johnson, Vt.)
Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.)
Trine University (Angola, Ind.)
Willamette University (Salem, Ore.)