Student Wins Back-To-Back At Collegiate Triathlon Championships
When Mike Meehan crossed the finish line first on Friday at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Championships in Clemson, SC, he had achieved a title years in the making. 24 hours later, he did it all over again, claiming an extraordinary second national title in just two days. In pulling off the Herculean feat during the two-part event, Meehan cemented his status as one of the all-time greats in Penn State club triathlon history.
A near lifelong triathlete, the mechanical engineering student began his spring season back in March competing in the CAMTRI professional events. CAMTRI, the governing body of triathlon in North and South America, held three races in Florida that Meehan admits did not go the way he’d planned.
“Neither race went the way I wanted,” Meehan said. “But I think that sparked a little extra motivation to put in the best six weeks of training I’ve ever had in my entire life.”
Following the disappointment in Florida weeks earlier, Meehan traveled to Clemson for his shot at redemption.
The championships kicked off with the Draft-Legal Race — a shortened triathlon where drafting during the bike leg is allowed. Drafting is when a rider follows closely behind a competitor in order to cut down on wind resistanc. Meehan fell behind after the first leg — the 750m swim — but started to take control of the race during the bike leg. Meehan was in the clear after the transition from the 19.6k bike leg to the 5k run and never looked back, becoming the second Penn State triathlete to win a collegiate national title in this race.
The next day, Meehan had to be ready for the Olympic distance race. Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for him. By the time he finished the 1500m swim, Meehan was in 42nd place. Much like the draft-legal race, Meehan made his climb back to the leaders through the 40k bike portion without the help of drafting. The 10k run solidified his place as the top collegiate triathlete at the championships, pushing Meehan to a dominant 47 second victory with a time of one hour, 58 minutes, and 23 seconds.
“The one thing that you can’t have going into a national championship weekend like this is any fear at all,” Meehan said of his performance. “Sure, I was nervous that something would happen that was out of my control like a flat tire or just a bad day, but I couldn’t harp on those things. I had to feel confident that I could go out and perform to the best of my ability on both days.”
The feat, which has only been accomplished once before, shows Meehan’s prowess as an athlete.
“Mike is simply an extraordinary triathlete,” Penn State triathlon advisor Stuart Selber said. “I’d say he’s one in a million. Only one in a million could win two national titles in two days.”
Meehan might have pulled off an insanely draining feat, but don’t expect him to take too much time off. “Right now I am taking a small breather in my training since it has been a very few intense months,” Meehan said. “I will be back training hard again soon.”
Meehan is currently part of Major League Triathlon, a professional circuit that pits teams of four in a spring medley relay. He is also working toward competing at the U-23 USA Triathlon Championships prior to setting out for the World University Triathlon Championships this August in Switzerland.
As Meehan continues he career in triathlon, wherever it may take him, he’ll hold on to those historic two days at Clemson forever.