USAT Collegiate Nationals 2009

In a victory more than half a decade in the making, John Dahlz out swam, out biked, and outlasted the best collegiate athletes from across the nation to capture top honors last weekend in Lubbock, Texas. In doing so, he led Cal Triathlon to their 2nd consecutive Men’s Team title, narrowly edging out the US Naval Academy by 1 point. Every position counted as Kenny Rakestraw scorched the bike to round out an excellent race in 5th while Mike Jafari proved that swimmers can run with a surprise upset in 10th Overall and Brandon Basso turned in the anchor leg finishing 5th in the graduate division.

Not to be outdone, Cal’s women delivered two amazing top 10 performances with Robyn Shaffer and Daniella Mehech running virtually neck-and-neck to secure a 4th place Women’s Team award against a stacked field of athletes. Great efforts by a senior veteran, Nicole Nakamaru, and a newbie water-polo convert and top female swimmer Kirsten Auker rounded out the four scoring places of the team. Just nipping at their heels were Gracy Huntley and Melissa Peabody who also finished top 50 and top 75 respectively.

Also for the men, Louis Vayo swam the fastest split in the race while Jordan Bethke flew on the bike and Kevin Haas had the privilege of watching Brandon race off to greatness on the run while fulfilling his personal goal of beating every girl in the race by at least two seconds.

The race couldn’t have been sweeter for Cal Triathlon with every athlete turning in A+ and A++ performances continuing the legacy of a team which has now finished in the top 2 slots at Nationals 6 years running! Navy was well deserved in their solid overall victory but the Bears look forward to a re-match in 2010!

Cal’s success continued in the sprint race where Mike Sontag came first out of the water and was later joined by Ben Hans on their way to top 10 finishes. Allison Chambers also had the fastest swim of the womens race to finish 2nd along with a personal best 5th place by Samantha Sharp. Rounding out the sprint race were great efforts by Zach McCutchen, CJ Mishma, Hannah Ng, Jay Bessette, Sam Vroomen, and Chris Fuentes. Most impressive was that immediately after completing the race, Jay led the sprint team to form the largest and most vocal cheering section on the course.

A great weekend of racing and congrats again to all the athletes of Cal Triathlon.

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