In the program’s first year, the women’s triathlon team is led by senior Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale). She is wasting no time in her final season as a Royal. Not only is Abigail a triathlon athlete, she continues to run cross country in the same season.
At the end of last cross country season, Coach Bob Hepler and Coach Erick Camodeca talked to Abigail after Regionals and highly recommended a summer dedicated to training.
“When Coach Bob mentioned the possibility of the triathlon addition, I thought it would be in the approval stage for a few years,” said Abigail. “I did not expect to be able to compete, but it came pretty unexpectedly!”
Over the summer, she came back up to Harrisonburg specifically to train. Averaging 2.5-3.5 hours of training a day, she included bike workouts, swim workouts and strength.
“It was one of the first times coaches believed in me that much to mention getting serious about training,” said Abigail, “and I wanted to take that to heart.”
All of the sudden, she was partaking in longer swims and hardcore training in order to compete at this high level.
Before competing in her first triathlon this past weekend, Abigail was EMU’s top finisher in the Bridgewater XC Challenge on Friday.
“I don’t think I automatically expected to be doing both triathlon and cross country in the same season, but you take what you can get, ya know?”
Although she was more worried about holding back in the race on Friday with the triathlon looming, Abigail knew she had a day in between to recover.
“I fully trusted my coaches that this was a good decision to make,” she explained. “Coach Bob, Coach Joanna (Friesen), Coach Cam, and Coach Chad (Gusler) are amazing, and I have so much trust in them.”
On Sunday, Abigail competed in her first triathlon and was the first EMU athlete to finish with a time of 53.33.0, finishing 21st overall. After a 750-meter swim and a 12.4-mile bike, Abigail impressively clocked the 5k run at 20.20 (although the run portion was later excluded from the results).
Abigail said she learned so much in her first triathlon and saw so many other athletes who were well versed in the sport.
“I specifically remember thinking on the biking portion, though, how big of a gift all of this is; how incredible it is to have such dedicated, caring coaches; how incredible it is to have a body healthy enough to compete; and how incredible it is to have a community at EMU (and beyond) that has been so supportive with this transition.”
For Abigail, the cross country/track & field/triathlon teams have the most down to earth people and are by far the best team she has ever been a part of.
“I don’t want to go without saying that there’s no way that I could do these things right now without the coaching staff and team,” she said.
Abigail said these programs have impacted her greatly and there are no words to express the gratitude she has towards her teammates and coaches.
-- by Bri Miller, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern