Triathlon Collegiate Club Nationals: UC Davis A team that is peaking at the right time! By RaceMill // April 22, 2015 Answers: Coach John HansenUC Davis Head Triathlon CoachRM: How is the field looking for this years event?JH: The field is looking strong as usual. Of course the WCCTC conference will be well represented among the top teams. I expect the usual WCCTC teams to be a factor for the top honors UC Berkley, UCLA, and UC San Diego. They will be competing against the University of Colorado, perennial favorites, and University of Arizona for the top spot, men's and women's combined. Other WCCTC teams such as ourselves (UC Davis), Stanford, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly will also play a big role is supporting the conference with what I think will be top 10 team finishes. The WCCTC could have as many as 7 teams in the top 12 for men's and women's combined results.RM: What has been the mantra for this year? Where is that established? Pre-Season Camp?JH: Our team mantra is "Always first and never last". It is part of our fight song and has been a part of the team for over 10 years. It is not necessarily specific to racing but also to the character and dedication of our team. We are a very competitive team with the hopes finishing in the top 10 at nationals, men's and women's combined, but we pride ourselves on being one of the biggest teams that shows a great deal of team spirit. The team supports each others accomplishments no matter what the outcome as long as everyone is working hard towards their goals.RM: How important is the team concept in each event? How is that communicated to the Club?JH: The team concept is very important at each event. The concept of the team is shown in two ways. One is the support we show each other as a team. As I indicated above, the team supports each other's accomplishments no matter what the outcome, as long as everyone is working hard towards their race goals. The team concept is also stressed in terms of competition against other collegiate teams. Team comradery is an iconic symbol in collegiate sports and I encourage that friendly rivalry against other teams as part of their experience as a student athlete. I discuss these team concepts at training sessions, team meetings, in pre-race meetings, etc. RM: How has the growing success of Collegiate Triathlon impacted your program? New opportunities?JH: The growth of collegiate triathlon has helped our team members really gain insight to the student athlete experience and has helped our team blossom into a contending team. With very well organized conference races, a conference championships and a national event the athletes get a real feel for what being a student athlete really means. They can carry this experience forward well after they graduate and take pride in their involvement in the team and sport. I was a scholarship athlete at Auburn University (Track) and I really appreciate that opportunity and experience which I carry over to my team. I want my athletes to finish college and look back with that same appreciation. In addition, it has helped our team become more competitive. UC Davis is not a division 1 school and does not have the same athletic reputation as other high ranking schools. However, with the opportunity to compete on a national level our dedicated team members respect the opportunity they have as student athletes and are willing to work hard to be competitive in the national level.RM: How is the health of the team leading up to Nationals?JH: The health of my team is finally on track which it has not been the entire all season. My top male athlete is just now coming back from injury after missing almost the entire season. I also had several key athletes miss races due to sickness, injury, bike mechanics, etc and so we have not raced at full strength for any race the entire season. At our Conference championships my two top male athletes did not compete so nationals should be race that is more reflective of our competitiveness as a team.RM: How effective were the exhibition events in 2014 in preparing athletes for the 2015 Club Collegiate Tri season?JH: They had minimal impact on how we prepared for 2015. We prepared for the events we wanted to compete in this year the same way we did last season.RM: What was the key moment for the team this season?JH: Our regional championship was a key moment in the season because, for those who did compete, they did so very well and many had the best races of the season. It was key though not only with respect to performance but in regards to experience. I have a very young team - of my top 10 athletes (5 men and 5 women) I have five sophomores or 2nd year athletes who have only raced 1-2 other Olympic distance races. So for them to do well at that distance means even stronger performances at Nationals.RM: Considering your home base, do you foresee any issues or complications with the venue in Clemson, S.C.?JH: Although we are coming from a dryer climate, it has been very warm in California I do not foresee any issues with the venue at Clemson. I coach them on ways to be better prepared for the combination of heat and humidity.RM: Which event does your athletes most look for ward to and why? Olympic, Mixed Team RelayJH: My athletes look forward to the both the draft legal and Olympic distance races. (We opt not to compete in the mix draft legal team race). I only have the minimal number of athletes compete in the draft legal race but the entire team loves the energy of the race and the opportunity it provides the team to place higher in the standings. Since all of my athletes compete in the Olympic distance race, as individuals they look forward to this race because they want to give their strongest performance against their peers on the biggest stage for Collegiate Triathlon.RM: Do you prefer draft-legal racing to non-draft? Why?JH: They both have a place in the sport of collegiate triathlon and I do not have a preference for either discipline. RM: Any special "Thank You's" you would like to make for all those that helped this season?JH: My Team - they are the greatest group of student athletes. They are very dedicated and I know the will represent themselves and UC Davis well at this year's National Championships.