Mehnert's time of 2:01:13 was more than a minute clear of the field.
May 2, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Less than a year after graduating from the University of Illinois, former Fighting Illini swimmer Michelle Mehnert is enjoying even more success in collegiate athletics. On April 13, Mehnert claimed first place at the 2013 Collegiate Triathlon Nationals in Tempe, Ariz., with a time 2:01:13, which was more than a minute clear of the field. Mehnert is in her first year of graduate school studying environmental engineering at the University of Colorado.
"USAT Collegiate Nationals is unlike any other triathlon in the world because the atmosphere is incredible," Mehnert said. "It's also one of the only times as an amateur that the men's and women's races are completely separate, and you can really tell your position in a race. Triathlon, like swimming, is such an individual sport but the challenge of a team championship really makes the race exciting. Between our team's reputation, and my own performances at our team time trials and conference race, there was a lot of pressure to perform in Tempe. As a team, we knew this, and we were able to pull together and support each other."
While Mehnert now represents the Colorado Buffaloes in competition, she credits her time as an Illini swimmer to her success in triathlon.
"I am and forever will be an Illini," Mehnert said. "The support of Illini Nation means a lot to me because Champaign was my home for 22 years, and my experience with the Illini swim family is one I'll never forget. Illinois swimming laid a large part of the foundation of my training today, and while I may not have achieved the heights I wanted to in the pool, I'm happy that I'm still able to represent the program well in triathlon. I received many wonderful messages from my Illini swim teammates, both before and after the race, which really meant a lot to me."
Mehnert will look to continue her success in triathlon at the Dallas ITU Triathlon Pan American Cup on June 1.