The 2014 South Dakota Triathlon Association race series revealed some genuinely talented and hard-working triathletes in South Dakota, and the 2015 season promises for even better racing. With only four weeks until the first race of the season, the Brookings I’m Ready for Summer Triathlon, local athletes are preparing meticulously.
Last year’s women’s champ Brigitte Setness still plans on participating in the SDTA series while conquering the world of marathons and long-distance endurance events. Her current training, like many a South Dakota triathlete, has involved a pool and a trainer. However, she has added some yoga into the mix, which research says will only make triathletes stronger. She has one big aim for the season, and while it’s not SDTA related, it will most likely contribute to her performances in the series. She aims to break 12 hours in the Ironman distance (in November in Arizona), and she also is continually aiming to run a Boston Qualifying marathon time. Yep, she’s ambitious.
The 2014 runner up Kathy Grady also has some lofty goals in addition to a competitive presence in the SDTA races. Currently she’s working on her base training along with the important but less-focused-on disciplines of sleep and nutrition. Grady is focusing on her A-races this year of the Age-Group Nationals (racing both the sprint and olympic distances) in August and the ITU World Championships in September. We will most likely see Grady racing hard but conservatively as well with the hope of staying injury free and competing effectively in these A-races.
Barb Wehde did not have a strong presence in the overall series last season, but when she came to a race, she brought some stiff competition to the regulars. This season Wehde hopes to continue to participate in a handful of races, and with the new points system in hand, a few strong races have the potential to make her a genuine frontrunner in the points. Wehde has been training hard in Omaha where she lives, participating in the local master’s swim club and even attending a triathlon training camp led by pro Gwen Jorgenson.
Women’s third place overall winner Lisa Murphy has some big plans for later in the season with a IM Silverman 70.3 planned for October, but in the meantime, she too will bring her gameface to several of the SDTA events. She’s been spending her off season focusing on strength, core, and the three main tri disciplines.
The women’s race includes a handful of other talented athletes. We expect to see Teresa Van Hyfte do some great things this season after battling illness throughout most of the season last summer. Additionally, we never know what to expect from the well-trained Laura Zumhofe, who also made her presence known in the top ten regularly. We also expect to continue to see some great performances from the young legs of Emily Satter and rookie triathlete Tessa Stoltenberg. We also hope to see the likes of Mary Turner, Jonette Murphy, Autumn Winkie, Nicole Osmundson, and Nikki Reinsbach toeing the lines this season as their presence in random races made for some interesting and varied results. Like we saw in both the men’s and women’s races last year, anything could happen.
Men’s winner Matt Decker was not available for comment for this story, but if he continues to participate in the series, we expect to continue to see great things from this work horse. Decker brought some fantastic competition to each race he participated in last year, winning three out of four and solidifying his position as overall champ. We expect nothing less from him each time he arrives this year.
The Men’s 2014 runner-up Kevin Mitchell is continuing to use his strong work ethic to prepare for a great season. Mitchell aims primarily to improve on his own times, focusing in just simply getting stronger in the off season with time spent on strength training, plyometrics, and interval training. “Time is always precious so I try to push it quite hard every workout,” states Mitchell. He also humbly implies that his age (a mere 45 years) will work against him soon, so he’s hoping to make the most of his time the next couple of years before, according to him, things begin to go the other way. We have a hard time seeing his happen anytime soon.
SDTA 2015 Newcomer of the year Justin Schweitzer also plans on participating in a full season this year. After incurring an illness that put him out of the majority of last season, Schweitzer is preparing like a horse reading to jump out of the starting gate. He’s spent a great of time in the pool working on his weakness (as if he had one), and quite frankly, just getting faster than he was before as well as logging some time in the weight room to get stronger. Schweitzer is aiming to be a competitive force in a 70.3 in June and to race a complete SDTA season this year. If he meets his second goal, we can almost guarantee we will see him on the podium on a regular basis.
Young athlete Michael Martin also had a great showing last year and is hoping for another great year. He won the 20-29 men’s bracket, and this year, while he’s focusing primarily on preparing for IM Wisconsin in September, he hopes to sprint well in the midst of lengthy training days.
Nebraskan Joel Greve plans on making his presence known again in “every race possible” in the SDTA series. Greve finished in the top ten consistently, and we expect him to take home some pretty hardware in the 50-59 division this season if not overall. Meanwhile, Greve is training consistently both for the SDTA races as well as the Legends 100, a new race in Kansas requiring participants to move a total of 100 miles (2 mile swim, 80 mile bike, and 18 mile run).
These are just a few of the men that we expect to do well this year. This does not include Lance Bergeson, who consistently put out a strong effort and ended the season third overall in the men’s race. We also hope to see the likes of Kyle Everson, Phillip Avery, Luke Serck, Nathan Stearns, Kyle Kolda, Craig Harrison, Brandon Zelfer, and Grego Taylor racing as each has also made a strong presence in the top ten for the races they came to last season.
We Trinews staffers look forward to watching this season unfold because we readily admit we have a limited view of the talent out there. None of us would’ve picked this random guy named Justin Schweitzer to do so well early in the season last year, nor would we have expected newcomer Brigitte Setness to challenge veteran Kathy Grady like she did. All of the athletes we spoke to had one common goal: to improve themselves. No one claimed to hope to take home the big wad of cash that the SDTA winner pockets, but all hope for an injury-free season and a stronger showing than their 2014 selves put forth. And, as men’s second-place winner Kevin Mitchell said, “I want to control what I can control which is my times, and if others improve also that’s what competition is all about.” We couldn’t have said it better.