Myke Hermsmeyer checks in one last time before the big race tomorrow.
The team has finally been assembled in Alabama for the USAT Collegiate National Championships. Three cars and 14 people have traveled over 2,000 miles and made it through horrendous crosswinds and dreary Kansas and Missouri to approach UMTri's biggest race of the year. Tuscaloosa has currently been overrun by 1000 triathletes from universities across the country.
Johnny Montana looks to lead the men. He's been suffering from a bad cold the last week or so but is getting over it and is looking to turn himself inside out the whole race. Aaron "Shake n' Bake" Little looks fitter than you've ever seen him. After taking it easy last year he's improved big time on the bike and swim while remaining deadly on the run. BLove (Ben Lovelace) will be right there with Aaron with strong bikes and runs. This past year he finished Lake Stevens 70.3 right behind John. The fourth and final scoring spot will be up for grabs. Ed Hirsh is crazy smooth in the water and runs well off the bike. Mike has been biking crazy good this year and will be riding a road bike instead his Jake the snake so we expect good things. Matt Handwerk (as of now expected to be the 3rd fastest Matt at Grizzly) is a powerhouse on the bike and is predicting himself to be the "National Champ of T1." Travis Miller stands ready to surprise everyone. Having not ever done a race he decided to go big at start off at Collegiate Nationals and has been training hard all year.
For the girls it's anyones game. Consisting of mostly new, inexperienced members (many without open water experience) it's unknown how people will throw down. The girls are likely to be led by veteran Katherine Ketterine, who is returning to Alabama after racing in Nationals here in 2008. She always is solid and has the experience to power her through the race. Hannah Reidl has come out of the woodwork and improved faster than anyone we've ever seen. She has a strong running background and has really laid it down and improved on the swim and bike this winter. Cara Lehman is bringing her tennis conditioning and strength to the team in a big way. She's a strong runner, has been getting out on the bike a lot and has been a staple at swimming, just don't ever ask her to play "would you rather." Megan Oberweiser is going to surprise everyone. Most of us only know her from swimming, but she has torn it up training rides/runs this past week. Expect big things in the coming years. Kaitlin Kominsky is looking to avenge her pre-race crash at Wildflower last year that got her helivaced to the hospital. She's the fastest swimmer for the girls and will come out of the water near the front. She's posed and ready for anything the race has to throw at her. Ashley Block has gone all out for the team this year, showing up to most trainer rides and even going so far as to dye her hair maroon for the race. Hellen Magart is going to bring some military toughness to the course. She has been at nearly every practice and like Travis will be racing in her first triathlon ever.
We'd like to thank all of you in Missoula that have supported us throughout the year. Without all of you we wouldn't be where we are as athletes. Special thanks to coaches Jeff Cincowski, Ryan Payne, Elliot Bassett and Josh Goldberg, and team supporters Steve Dahlberg and Giles Thelen. We can't thank you enough for the time and effort you have so generously given us this season.