Triathlon Collegiate Club Nationals: U of Arizona TriCats TriCats are preped and ready to take on the field at Nationals! By RaceMill // April 20, 2015 RM: How is the field looking for this years event?Collegiate Nationals always showcases a wide range of abilities from beginner triathletes all the way to seasoned professionals. Our team this year is no different, and we are excited to mix it up with some of the best young triathletes in the country! RM: What has been the mantra for this year? The charge!Our coaches Jimmy Riccitello and Doug Friman are not only great coaches and former athletes, but also incredible in the 'mental preparation' department. Jimmy ingrains it in our minds that "no one will pass a TriCat at the end of a race." Doug is known in the triathlon world at being a nitty gritty hard worker who never complains. While there are endless quotes or "Doug-isms," one that really has stuck with the team is "Shift up." RM: How important is the team concept in each event? How is that communicated to the Club?Triathlon is seen by many people as an individual event- which it is in many race environments, but not so at Collegiate Nationals. When we talk about "Nats" we emphasize our men's team, women's team, and the team as a whole rather than glorification of any one individual. RM: How has the growing success of Collegiate Triathlon impacted your program? New opportunities?TriCats has grown substantially over the past few years due to advances in leadership of the program, as well as opportunities provided by the triathlon community. It's difficult for many students to get involved in collegiate triathlon due to the many expenses that go along with it, but we have been fortunate enough to have extensive community support that has allowed new members to get involved in the sport and improve dramatically during their time on the team. RM: How is the health of the team leading up to Nationals? It seems that every year, in the weeks leading up to nationals we have a teammate get injured. Unfortunately this year was no different, as one of our strongest guys on the men's team Sasha Romanenko was injured in a bike crash. Sasha will be a force to be reckoned with in future years on TriCats. Image compliments of Jimmy Song PhotographyRM: How effective were the exhibition events in 2014 in preparing athletes for the 2015 Club Collegiate Tri season?The conference races that TriCats participated in during 2014 and early 2015 were extremely effective in preparing the team for Collegiate Nationals. Our training is based solely on collegiate nationals, and we train through the majority of races throughout the season, so it will be exciting to see what the team can put together with fresh legs at the end of April.RM: What was the key moment for the team this season?It is difficult to label a "key moment" because consistency has been our biggest strength and the theme of this season. We have more athletes attending practice on a regular basis than ever before. This is what really sets TriCats apart from other teams-we don't have a few stars-we have many dedicated members who train together, race together, and win together. RM: Considering your home base, do you foresee any issues, complications or benefits with the venue in Clemson, S.C.? Training in Tucson, Arizona is ideal, especially in the winter months. Racing in Clemson could involve some elements we don't experience here in Tucson. However, our team is extremely resilient, and have trained in less than ideal conditions before, so we're ready for anything Clemson can throw our way!RM: Which event do your athletes most look forward to and why? Olympic, Mixed Team Relay, SprintTriCats excel as a whole, so the Olympic race is definitely where our strengths and passions lie. However we have athletes that have excelled in the draft legal racing this year, and are excited to race with the best Collegiate draft legal triathletes in the country! Image compliments of Jimmy Song PhotographyRM: Do you prefer draft-legal racing to non-draft? Why?I personally prefer draft legal racing because of the excitement involved with it- there's much more that goes into it than just racing hard. There's strategy and decisions that need to be made in order to excel in draft legal racing. RM: Any special "Thank You's" you would like to make for all those that helped this season?Our team is extremely lucky to have two of the best coaches in the sport by our side; Jimmy Riccitello and Doug Friman have truly transformed the program by investing time and energy into each individual athlete. We also have an amazing Physical Therapist, Cara Payne with Ideal Physical Therapy who has traveled with us to the majority of our races. Paul Thomas has helped get new triathletes fit on their bikes, and helped others upgrade their bikes, along with spreading his wealth of knowledge on all things bikes with the team. We also have some additional fabulous sponsors who have helped us successfully raise the money we need to get to Clemson. Special thanks to TriSports, The Alvarez Family, and the Marines Recruiting office for all of your help this season!