by NICK ALVARADO//Sports Editor
As the sun rose across campus, the runners took their mark in the 17th Annual Cotton Country Triathlon.
The triathlon took place all over the campus, with athletes competing in running, cycling and swimming events.
Dee Dee Odorizzi, director of the Physical Fitness Center and instructor in Physical Education, is the main organizer of the Cotton Country Triathlon, which has been taking place annually at South Plains College, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Local athletes who enjoy fitness, those who are staying in shape, or athletes who are getting a taste of what a triathlon really is, took part in this year’s event.
“This triathlon is a sprint, which means shorter distance,” Odorizzi said. “It’s a great distance for all levels. We have senior citizens, we have a 80-year old that comes every year. We have athletes that run their first ever triathlon here, and we end up having people who are really serious racers.”
Athletes participated in the 5K run first, starting on E.M. Barnes Road. Once participants finish, they make a transition to a 13-mile bike ride, before returning to the same transition area to make a 300-yard swim in the SPC Natatorium.
Odorizzi stated that there were 53 athletes who took part in this year’s event.
“Those numbers were down from what we have had,” Odorizzi said. “We cancelled the triathlon a copule of years ago because the pool broke down. It had major leaks, and so we suffered a little bit and we are trying to build back up from that.”
Despite technical difficulties, Odorizzi said that in the past, the highest participation for the event was around 85 and 106 athletes.
The triathlon serves as a fundraiser for a scholarship that Odorizzi is saving for.
“Over the years, it a club account that we have been saving up for an endowed scholarship, and we almost reached our goal,” Odorizzi said. “If we can’t do it this year, we will do it next year for sure.”
Odorizzi stated that the fully-funded endowed scholarship is $10,000, which is the main goal for the fundraiser as well.