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In 2016 and 2017, Sun Devil women’s triathlon won back-to-back USA Triathlon Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships in their first and second seasons of competition. [Story]
One of the newest varsity sports at Arizona State University, women’s triathlon was added by the NCAA as an emerging sport for women in 2014 and is continuing its development to become a fully sponsored NCAA sport. Arizona State University is the first in, not only the Pac-12 to add women’s triathlon, but the first Power Five Division I University in the country to do so. Sun Devil Athletics was one of 10 NCAA schools to receive a multi-year Women’s Triathlon Emerging Sport grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation. The grant was created to drive the establishment of NCAA women’s varsity triathlon programs.
Since its opening in 1981, the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center is regarded as one of the nation’s finest outdoor swimming and diving facilities. The aquatic center consists of three pools: an Olympic-sized 50-meter by 25 yard competition pool; a 25-yard, 18’ deep diving well; and 25-yard eight-lane warm-up pool. Other amenities include three platforms, four springboards, moveable bulkhead and team room. With seating for over 1,000 spectators, the facility was revitalized with a $1.2 million renovation in 2012.
The annual Arizona Ironman competition is held at Tempe Town Lake each year, as well as the 2017 USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship..
The stadium, which opened in time for the 1976 season at an estimated cost of $3 million, has served as the host site for several of the top meets in the nation, including the annual Sun Angel Track Classic, and many conference championships. Prior to the 2008 season, Joe Selleh Track was resurfaced with the latest Mondo product, Mondotrack FTX, giving the venue that has hosted numerous world-class athletes a world-class running surface. The venue includes nine 48-inch lanes, dual long and triple jump runways, three throwing areas, and two high jump pits. The shot put area also has two competition rings. The seating capacity at Sun Angel Stadium exceeds 5,000.
There is an extensive network of trails in and around Tempe at nearby Papago Park and throughout the Sonoran Desert habitat. The desert trails are smooth, providing a great place for running and biking.
Arizona State University’s student-athletes posted a 3.18 GPA in 2016-17 and 2017-18, an all-time high, marking the 12th consecutive semester with a 3.0 GPA or higher as a department. Sun Devil Athletics continues to see unprecedented academic achievement as in addition to all-time high GPA, Sun Devil student-athletes graduated at an all-time high 84% Graduation Success Rate. During the 2017-18 school year, 71% of student-athletes earned Scholar-Athlete status (3.00 cumulative or semester GPA).
With 15 years of elite-level triathlon coaching experience, head coach Cliff English coached the Sun Devils to a national championship in their first season of existence. Prior to the inaugural season of women’s triathlon at Arizona State University, English coached triathletes at the last three summer games in Athens, Beijing, and London. In both 2008 and 2012, English was an advisor and then personal coach to four-time U.S. Olympian Hunter Kemper. Under English, Kemper distinguished himself as an elite athlete winning his seventh career USA Triathlon Elite National title. In 2015 alone, English’s athletes have won an ironman, two half-ironman races, and two other triathlon competitions. In addition to Kemper, English has coached two World Championship medalists, a silver medalist at the Pan American Games, three International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup champions and 10 top-five finishers, and a 2006 ITU World Team Relay Championship title team.
Assistant coach Erin Densham competed in her third Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, joining the Sun Devil triathlon program following the games. The Sydney-born Densham earned a bronze medal at the 2012 London games after placing 22nd in Beijing in 2008. She and team member Emma Moffatt are the first Australian triathletes to compete at three Olympic Games. Since becoming a triathlete at age 16 after competing in swimming and cross country, Densham has won the U23 World Championships in 2006 in Switzerland, the 2012 Sydney World Champion and finished second at a 2012 World Championship race in San Diego. In the seven years from 2004 to 2010, she took part in 44 ITU (International Triathlon Union) competitions and achieved 22 top ten positions, including eight gold medals.
In November 2017, following back-to-back national championships, Sun Devil triathlon was invited to National Champions Day at the
White House. Alongside a White House visit, the travel party also visited the U.S. Capitol where they visited Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s office, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and the Library of Congress, as well as attending the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center and going on a tour of national monuments.