(June 23, 2015)

Centenary will add varsity women's triathlon for 2016-2017

SHREVEPORT, LA — In 2016-2017, Centenary College of Louisiana will become one of just a handful of schools in the nation and the third in NCAA Division III to field a varsity team in women's triathlon. Women's triathlon has been named an Emerging Sport by the NCAA and is one of the fastest-growing Olympic sports in the United States.

Alumna Rachel Olson '14 finishes 22nd out of more than 450 women competing at the 2014 national collegiate championships in Tempe, Arizona. She also had the fourth fastest 1500-meter swim leg.

"There are very few chances in athletics to be in on the ground floor in a sport's development, but we have that chance at Centenary," said Ronda Seagraves, Director of Athletics and Wellness. "I am very excited to see the College take a leadership role in competing in and promoting varsity women's triathlon."

Women's triathlon was approved as an Emerging Sport at the NCAA convention in January 2014. NCAA Emerging Sports have a ten year window to establish 40 programs across the association's three divisions. Currently over 200 universities, including Centenary, sponsor triathlon as a club sport, and 40 percent of collegiate triathlon participants are women.

Following the announcement by the NCAA, the USA Triathlon Foundation created a $2.6 million, multi-year grant to encourage the establishment of varsity women's triathlon programs. Centenary will receive $70,000 in grant funds to purchase training and safety equipment and create recruiting materials to raise awareness for the new program.

"We're delighted to welcome Centenary College of Louisiana as the latest recipient of our Women's Triathlon Emerging Sport Grant," said Rob Urbach, USA Triathlon CEO. "This financial commitment is unprecedented for NCAA Emerging Sports, and programs like Centenary are among the first to fully support varsity programs, which will increase the opportunities available to collegiate women who want to pursue triathlon while receiving a top-level education."

Recruiting and preparations for varsity women's triathlon will begin immediately, and the team will debut in NCAA competition in Fall 2016. At that time, Centenary will phase out its current cross-country teams for men and women and transition its existing club team in women's triathlon to varsity status. Men's triathlon will also remain as a club sport.

"Adding women's triathlon gives Centenary a competitive advantage in recruiting student-athletes and creates a real point of distinction for the College's athletic program," said President David Rowe. "I applaud our Athletic Department staff for continuing to think creatively about ways to innovate and move Centenary forward while creating increased opportunities for our student-athletes to compete and excel in the NCAA."