Life on the Road

by Lynn Sullivan '89


Abe Rogers '95 seems not to fit the model of an "ironman." A triathlete since age 15, Rogers's tenaciousness belies his reserved, soft-spoken demeanor. "A world-class athlete," according to Colby track coach Jim Wescott, Rogers is one of the premier triathlon competitors and a future professional in perhaps the most physically demanding sport yet invented.

A Burlington, Vt., native, Rogers has competed as an amateur in 25 triathlons since his first race seven years ago. He was the Junior National Champion three consecutive years, 1991-93, and represented the U.S. in the world championships in Australia, Canada and England. He finished 29th, ninth and eighth, respectively. His 1993 eighth-place finish helped his team win the gold medal.

Last summer he entered the Mazda-Orange County Triathlon in Orange County, Calif., as a professional. He finished fourth among the Americans--one spot better would have earned him a trip to the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. Rogers has consistently placed among the top 15, including second-place finishes at races in Nagoya, Japan, and Columbus, Ohio.

"Athletics is a part of who I am," said Rogers, who was an administrative science major with a minor in African-American studies. "I think it's important that I continue to make that a positive part of me. My goal is to be the best I can be in my field. The challenge in that is that I'm not the best professional yet. I have a lot of room to improve."

Rogers's training week includes 55 miles of running, more than 300 miles of biking and 15 miles of swimming to prepare for the standard international triathlon--a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 40k bike ride and a 10k run. Except for an occasional off day before a race, he trains daily. While a student at Colby he modified his training schedule because of academic and athletic commitments.

Rogers lettered in cross country, swimming and outdoor track and field at Colby. He was co-president of SOAR (Society Organized Against Racism), the student-run group that combats racism and stereotyping, he worked at the Joseph Spa, and he was a life guard. Throughout his four years, though, he maintained a commitment to triathlons.

"I feel I'm pretty well-rounded," said Rogers, who says that in his four years at Colby he grew from a person totally focused on triathlons to a much more complete individual. "I am using my personal resources as well as my athletic resources. I am not a one-dimensional per-son. There are many things that I'm committed to and many things I'm a part of."

This summer Rogers hoped to compete in a dozen or more triathlons across the country. "Racing pro is a lot different [from racing amateur]," said Rogers. "The competition is much more serious and there is so much more at stake, like making a living. There's a lot more pressure to do well." According to Rogers, a few professional triathletes make as much as $500,000 from sponsors, endorsements and prize money, but the majority of full-time pros make $20-30,000 per year.

"He is doing all of this for the love of the sport and no other reason," said Wescott, who coached Rogers in cross country and track. "He just keeps driving, driving, driving. He is one of the most dedicated athletes I've ever coached, and his chances [as a professional] are great."

"Sometimes it's hard, and training gets a little lonely," said Rogers. "You spend a lot of time by yourself, and once in a while you'll question why you're putting all this pressure on yourself trying to cash in every weekend. Why not just go out and get a steady job with a steady income? But competing in triathlons is a great challenge. I'm at the age where I want to see how far I can go athletically, and it just so happens I get to do what I like physically."


Women Keep Pace
Every Colby women's outdoor track and field team carries the burden of upholding a tradition of perennial success. Past squads have won the NESCAC title three times and the New England Division III title twice, and more than a dozen competitors have earned All-America certificates. The roster of award winners includes more than 50 All-New England, 30 All-ECAC and 20 All-NESCAC competitors. In 1994 five athletes qualified for nationals and three earned All-America honors.

This year's squad met the challenge as well. The Mules didn't lose to a Division III opponent until their fifth meet of the season, a second-place finish at the Aloha Relays. At the NESCAC championships Colby placed third and then repeated that performance at the New England Division III championships, where they were edged by second-place Wesleyan by two points. Their final performance--the ECAC meet--earned Colby second place (behind Bowdoin) and surprised the 25-team field including Division III national powerhouse SUNY-Cortland.

"Overall it was a very successful and strong season," said head coach Deb Aitken. "In terms of what we thought we could do and what we did, we were successful."

Capping the season were invitations to the NCAA championships for hammer thrower Brooke Lorenzen, a senior from Mercer Island, Wash., and middle-distance runner Lenia Ascenso, a senior from Gloucester, Mass. Because the meet coincided with Colby's Senior Week and graduation activities, Ascenso made the difficult decision to remain on Mayflower Hill. Lorenzen opted to miss most of the week's festivities and headed for competition at Carleton College in Minnesota.

Undefeated throughout the season, Lorenzen, seeded fourth at nationals, was looking to repeat her 1994 All-American performance in the hammer (the first time the event was allowed in national competition). This time she threw 163' 5", establishing a Colby record and capturing fourth place for her second All-American certificate.

"I am very happy with the athletes' performances this year," said Aitken. "Everything just seemed to click for us."


Roundup
After a spring trip to Bermuda, the men's outdoor track and field team won the State of Maine championships for the second consecutive year. Don Saucier '96 received the meet's Alan Hillman trophy presented to the most valuable runner--the third year in a row Colby has earned that honor. The men took fifth place at the NESCAC meet. . . . A spring break trip to Hilton Head, S.C., produced a 2-3 record for the men's tennis team, which finished the season 5-8 overall. The team excelled in doubles competition, posting wins over Salem State College and Bates. . . . The softball team finished the season with a 7-20 record, including wins over Bowdoin, Bates, Plymouth State and the University of Southern Maine. . . . The baseball team finished its 128th season with a 12-16 record. The 28-game season produced wins over Trinity, Bowdoin, Bates and UMass-Boston.
Lacrosse Squad Tops Middlebury
The men's lacrosse team finished the season with a 9-6 overall record. During the pre-season the squad was ranked 21st by Faceoff magazine. They played eight teams that were ranked among the top 30 nationally during the regular season, whose highlights included a 10-9 overtime win over Middlebury, the eventual ECAC champions. . . . Posting impressive wins over Virginia Tech and Springfield College and suffering one-point losses to Division III powerhouses Randolph-Macon and Washington and Lee, the women's lacrosse team finished the season with a 6-9 record.
Monday Night Football
The September 23 Colby vs. Trinity football game will be televised on cable's New England Sports Network (NESN). The tape-delayed broadcast is scheduled to air on Monday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m. NESN, the station of the Boston Bruins and Red Sox, is seen throughout New England.


Still Kicking
Although Molly Couch '86 played ice hockey with a men's league for a few years after graduating, she says she no longer plays seriously. A fifth grade teacher at the Smith College Campus School in Northampton, Mass., Couch is busy pursuing other activities such as softball, tennis, a summer wedding and Taekwondo. In her senior year with the White Mules she was the team's MVP and captain, a New England All-Star and a member of the All-Bowdoin Tournament team. She scored 76 points from her defensive position in her four years at Colby. Couch was a four-year member of the soccer team as well.

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