(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – USA Triathlon and the College Triathlon Coaches Association board of directors announced recently that the fall 2020 varsity women’s collegiate triathlon season has been canceled due to ongoing precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is obviously disappointing to lose the prospect of competing this fall, especially after a summer of hard training,” said second-year Montana State University Billings women’s triathlon head coach Kevin Bjerke. “I believe it is the correct decision to protect the health and wellbeing of our student-athletes. With our young squad, this will give us an opportunity to develop our skills and endurance as we shift our focus to a potential spring season.”
The decision by USAT and CTCA comes on the heels of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s decision to suspend all competition [msubsports.com] at its member institutions through November 30.
While the USAT's release states that its “fall championship season is canceled," MSUB has a spring schedule in normal circumstances, meaning the announcement wouldn’t preclude the Yellowjackets from competing next spring.
The Yellowjacket women’s triathlon team completed its debut season in 2019-20, and doubled its roster size in the off-season to four with the addition of freshmen Journey Erickson of Hardin and Katelynn Perfitt of Billings. The duo of newcomers joins sophomores-to-be Madisan Chavez and Maddy Terwilliger.
MSUB is located just a short drive from the Beartooth Highway, also known as the Gateway to Yellowstone and heralded as one of the most beautiful and scenic drives in the country. This in turn makes the highway one of the more sought-after bike rides in the country. In addition to some intra-squad competitions and other unique endurance challenges, tackling the Beartooth Highway will be on the list of feats the Yellowjacket women’s triathlon team will be taking on this fall.
“We are fortunate to have something like the Beartooth Highway right in our backyard,” said Bjerke. “People come from all over the country to take on the more than 6,000-foot climb and breathtaking views. We would be remiss to not take on that challenge ourselves.”
Bjerke’s goal is to continue growing the program, both in terms of roster size and awareness, within the local community. His currently all-Montana roster features room for expansion, and scholarships remain available for the upcoming semester. “I look forward to continuing to grow the Yellowjacket triathlon program and exposing more young athletes in the area to this exciting new NCAA sport,” Bjerke said. “We are blessed with an ideal training climate in the fall. I look forward to taking full advantage of our climate and the surrounding landscape to keep the team engaged and training hard this fall while also having some fun.”