GREENSBORO, N.C. – Guilford College Director of Athletics Sue Bower announced the addition of women's triathlon to the school's varsity athletics offerings Thursday. She also identified Quakers' Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Operations Marty Owens as Guilford's Director of Triathlon. Guilford women's swimming head coach Brad Herndon will serve as the triathlon team's head coach.
Women's triathlon becomes the 22nd varsity sport offered by Guilford, which competes in NCAA Division III as members of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). The Quakers join Eastern Mennonite University as the lone ODAC members to sponsor the sport. Division II members Belmont Abbey College and Queens University of Charlotte are the other North Carolina schools with varsity women's triathlon teams. Guilford is the 30th institution to sponsor the sport and the 12th school to do so since October 2017.
Triathlon was designated by the NCAA as an emerging sport for women in 2014 and has a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability as an NCAA sport option. Emerging sports are intended to help schools provide more athletics opportunities for women and more sport-sponsorship options for the institutions, and also help the sport achieve NCAA championship status. Last month Guilford announced the addition of varsity women's rugby, also an emerging sport for women, with competition starting in the 2019-20 academic year.
"Women's triathlon is growing quickly among colleges and universities and it's growing in the greater Greensboro community," said Bower. "With qualified and enthusiastic coaches already on staff and an ideal climate, we expect to provide a successful and enjoyable experience from the start. I'm grateful for USA Triathlon's tremendous support in this exciting endeavor."
"USA Triathlon is proud to welcome Guilford College to the women's collegiate triathlon family, as the sport achieves another milestone on its way to full NCAA inclusion," said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. "Guilford is well-placed to compete regionally with other varsity programs in the Mideast region while offering a liberal arts education that will attract talented student-athletes."
Guilford received a three-year grant from USA Triathlon in support of the new program. The Quakers will run on campus trails and swim at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Cycling training will take place on bike-friendly roads in Guilford County.
Owens, who joined Guilford's staff in August 2018 as Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Operations, is also a certified triathlon coach and veteran competitor. He is a USA Triathlon Level I certified coach and USA Track & Field Level II Endurance Coach. Owens has coached triathletes of various levels competing in all distances, from sprint to IRONMAN, through his private business. A 2015 USA Triathlon All-American, Owens has twice competed in the IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and placed second at the 1997 Wildflower Long Course Triathlon. He is training for next month's IRONMAN Lake Placid.
Herndon, who also recently completed his first season with the Quakers, has three IRONMAN finishes under his belt. He is a Level 4-certified swim coach from the American Swimming Coaches' Association and also has certification from USA Swimming. Herndon serves the head coach of the Greensboro Community YMCA Makos Club Swim Team. He has qualified for the Boston Marathon and coached cross country at the nearby Oak Ridge Military Academy.
The staff will spend the 2019-20 year recruiting new students and training existing students interested in triathlon. The team will start official competition in the fall of 2020.