A new era officially began Sunday morning when the EMU women's triathletes hit the waters of South Holston Lake outside of Bristol, Tenn.
Under fantastic weather conditions, the Royals' newest program literally got their feet wet after just being introduced by EMU this past March. The five women on the team had great first efforts in a women's sprint triathlon, which consists of a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run.
Prior to Sunday's SoHo Dam Triathlon, two of the Royals had also run a 4k cross country race for EMU on Friday, but they still performed well. After the completion of the race, the run portion was eliminated from the results due to the course not being executed correctly. Host ETSU filed a formal protest after the race. Unfortunately, the loss of the run hurt the Royals more than other participants, especially individuals Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale) and Emma Hoover (New Carlisle, Ohio/Tecumseh) who would have moved up in the standings in that final leg.
Like she did on Friday, Shelly led EMU with a 21st-place finish, taking a time of 53:33.0 after the swim and bike portions of the race. Lydia Chappell Deckert (North Newton, Kan./Newton) was one spot behind in 55:21.0 and Leah Lapp (Lowville, N.Y./Beaver River Central) was one more spot back in 55:21.0. They formed the scoring team for 66 points.
Hoover was 32nd in 1:00.47.0, although she would have jumped to 23rd if the run portion of the race stood. Mim Beck (Woodstock, Vt./Archbold) was 33rd in 1:02.27.
The Royals return to action on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Senator Splash-n-Dash in Elkins, W.V. That race will consist only of a swim and run.
SoHo Dam Triathlon
EMU Women: 4th place of 5 teams (66 points); Winner: East Tennessee State (6 points)
Top Finisher: Abigail Shelly – 21st (53:33.0)
Full Team: Lydia Chappell Deckert – 22nd (55:21.0); Leah Lapp – 23rd (56:33.0); Emma Hoover – 32nd (1:00.47.0); Mim Beck – 33rd (1:02.27.0)
Coach Bob Hepler said:
Before April Emma was a non-swimmer; Lydia, Mim and Leah were non-cyclists and non-runners; and Abigail was a non-cyclist. Today they are first time triathletes! They trained hard and performed well. I am so proud of all of them. We all learned so much today and the athletes are incredibly inspired for the next races.
One highlight today was Abigail Shelly running 20:20 after a 750-meter swim and 12.4-mile bike. Truly amazing. The women said that they were intimidated but empowered.