Former Cooperstown resident Sarah Groff placed third overall and second among American women at the 2008 U.S Olympic Team Trials Triathlon last Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Groff’s time was two hours, two minutes and 59 seconds, while Sarah Haskins was the top American finisher with a time of two hours, two minutes and 59 seconds.
Haskins earned a spot on the Olympic team by being the first American woman to cross the finish line. Groff’s father, Dr. Gerald Groff of Cooperstown, and 11 other family members made the trip to Alabama to watch Sarah race.
``It was pretty intense,’’ he said. ``Sarah had the best race of her career, and I’ve never seen her so fit and determined. She was happy with her performance, but she wanted to win.’’
Twelve American women competed in the race, which was the second of three qualifying races. In the first two qualifying races, Sarah has already accumulated enough points to finish fourth overall and at the very least will be an alternate and travel with the team to Beijing this summer.
``She has to finish first among all the American women in Iowa to earn one of the three places on the American team,’’ Gerald Groff said. ``That’s her goal, to make the team.’’
Groff is one of 22 U.S. athletes, and 12 American women, who have qualified to compete in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Triathlon. USA Triathlon requires athletes be ranked in the top 125 in the world the week before the Olympic trials in order to compete, and Groff is currently ranked 120th worldwide.
Groff is originally from Cooperstown, and trains in Colorado. She turned professional in 2004.
After attending Cooperstown through middle school, she left for a private school, Deerfield Academy, for her high school years, where she was a standout runner and swimmer, earning All-New England honors in both sports. After living in Valencia, Spain for a year after high school, Groff, now 24, attended Middlebury College, a small liberal arts college in Vermont. While at Middlebury, Groff was a member of the swim team and competed in middle distance and distance freestyle events. Groff was named to the All-NESCAC and All-American teams for her successes.
Groff said qualifying for the Olympics is her main goal, but developing into the best triathlete she can be is even more important. The first Olympic triathlon selection event was held at the ITU Beijing World Cup last September, with Laura Bennett and Jarrod Shoemaker qualifying. The final event will be held in Des Moines, Iowa at the Hy-Vee Triathlon on June 22. The last male and female athlete will be selected after that race based on a points system that calculates the best two of three races.
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