By: Matthew Revels, Sports Editor
Students returning to Newman this fall may have noticed that the triathlon office in DeMattias, normally full of bikes and other gear, is empty and dark.
That’s because over the summer, Newman decided to cut its triathlon program, which last year consisted of a team of three male and six female athletes.
Contacted by the Vantage about the team being cut from Newman’s athletic roster, Athletic Director Joanna Pryor would not say why the decision was made. In an e-mailed response, she said, “Obviously the student athletes are upset with the news but they are still finding ways to compete.”
Sophomore Anna Corbett, a member of last year’s team, said that Newman triathletes hope to raise money to compete anyway. They plan to launch a fundraiser next week and hope to raise enough money to attend a few winter races as well as nationals in California in April.
She said that the team will still be affiliated with Newman but just will not get funding from the school. Coach Jeff Lovgren, who coached the team for seven seasons, is volunteering his time to coach the team, she said.
Corbett said she was hurt when she first found out about the decision to cut triathlon.
“Our coach told us the day after they made the decision,” she said. “My initial reaction was shock followed by grief. It was heartbreaking to hear that this team that I have loved and felt a strong connection to was being taken away. I felt a lot of confusion as well because we had no clue if our season would still go on as scheduled.”
Newman’s Triathlon team, which was started in 2016, was the only school-sponsored triathlon team in Kansas.
Last year, the Jets Triathlon team competed in seven races, and then-sophomore Maggie Koenig became the first woman in Newman history to finish a Draft-Legal race. Asher Brown, who was a sophomore last year, also placed 17th in the nation in his division at the USA National Championships last year, posting the best finish by a Newman Triathlete in a Draft-Legal race.
Corbett said she was also a big supporter of Lovgren, who she says did so much for the team.
“He is such an amazing coach because he cares for each athlete individually both in and out of the sport. He has always told us he cares about how what we do now will affect us down the line and that he wants us to be healthy first,” she said. “Being coached by him has changed my perspective on sports and life entirely, I have a more positive outlook on life as a whole,” Corbett said.
PHOTO: Matthew Revels, Sports Editor