Section: Features

At Kenyon, former Division-I triathlete finds academic rigor

At Kenyon, former Division-I triathlete finds academic rigor

photo by Sonia Prabhu

by Maya Lowenstein

Despite Kenyon being home to the number-one athletic facilities in the country, according to Princeton Review, Kenyon’s Division III athletics program does not typically attract Division-I level athletes.

Mary Lauletta ’17 is the exception.

Lauletta transferred to Kenyon this year from Ohio University in Athens, where she was a Division I track-and-field athlete, and a triathlete competing during the summers outside of her collegiate track schedule. A triathlon is an event consisting of an athletic trifecta: running, swimming and cycling.

Lauletta, of Hudson, Ohio, made the switch because she felt she was not challenged enough academically during her two years at OU. She originally chose OU because she attended a big high school and thought a large university would be a good fit for her. In reality, the correlation didn’t pan out.

“The overall drive of the students didn’t match my drive,” Lauletta said.

According to Lauletta, the students at OU had a more relaxed attitude toward their academics. “Most people don’t care about exceeding expectations,” Lauletta said. “They’re just there to get in and get out.” She discussed the challenges of balancing Division I athletics and academics. “You’re an athlete first and then a student,” she said.

At OU, she would train 20-30 hours a week, had both an athletic and academic advisor and took a light course load so she could prioritize athletics. She began to think balancing academics and athletics will likely be more manageable at the DIII level.

So she began to search for a new collegiate home. That college turned out to be Kenyon. She considered other liberal arts schools but ultimately fell in love with Gambier. As the icing on the cake, she felt that both the track team and the studio art program, Lauletta’s major, were ideal fits.

Lauletta applied to Kenyon between her freshman and sophomore years and was not accepted. But she knew this was the right place for her and was determined to try again.

The next time around, she was accepted. “It was hard leaving my friends and sorority but it helps that they’re not too far away, so I can visit.”

Lauletta has joined the Kenyon track team and plans to compete in the heptathlon event which is composed of seven different events including hurdles, high jump, running and sprints.

She began her triathlon career by swimming and running during high school, and has continued to compete in triathlon events since. Now, she is part of the Vertical Runner Triathlon Team, and this past summer alone she competed in eight triathlons.

Lauletta is attending the World’s Triathlon competition this upcoming weekend in Chicago. This competition is for the world’s elite triathletes; over the span of four days a total of 6,500 triathletes compete in various intense races for world titles.

Though OU and Kenyon are both rural Ohio campuses close to small towns, the sizes of the student bodies could not be more different.

As far as the culture shock she felt upon arriving at Kenyon, Lauletta said, “I was in a class of 25 people and everyone was complaining about it being too big. ‘Too big’ for me is a class of 250 people without a real professor.”


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