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‘Pear’ of three-peats

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May 5, 2014

By Tiffany Clements

Defending Fruit at the Finish Triathlon team champions (left to right) Br. Nick Kleespie, OSB, Br. Lew Grobe, OSB, and Dan McAvey

Phillip English Photo: Paul Middlestaedt

Br. Nick Kleespie, OSB, and Br. Lew Grobe, OSB, have learned a few things about communication since they first entered the Fruit at the Finish Triathlon as team participants in 2011.

"Our first year we knew we were in trouble because our swimmer jumped in the water and he had a snorkel on," Kleespie said. "There was maybe a little disconnect between Br. Lew and I and our swimmer at the time." 

Kleespie, who handles the running leg of the race, and Grobe, the cyclist, seem to have overcome that early disconnect with their teammate. Along with swimmer Dan McAvey - who joined the trio in 2013 - Kleespie and Grobe won their third-consecutive Fruit at the Finish Triathlon as a team Saturday, May 3, at SJU. 

"It's kind of fun to participate with students," Kleespie said. "We might still be the young monks but we're all in our thirties at this point so there's a bit of a desire to ride this wave for as long as we can to see if we can't keep beating the students."  

The defending champs weren't without competition. 

More than 100 entrants, including 16 teams, signed up for the race, according to Outdoor Leadership Center (OLC) Events Lead Tyler Thompson. 

The race, sponsored by the OLC and Peer Resource Program, adopts a new fruit-based theme each year and has previously invited participants to "Give it all you apricot," "Berry the competition," and "Catch-up or Ketchup." 

This year, participants entered to "Sprint to the Finish Lime" as individuals or a member of a team of three. The event included a .75K swim in the Warner Palestra pool, 22K bike ride starting and ending at the Palestra, and a 5K run on the Pine Knob Trail in the Abbey Arboretum.

Thompson, a sophomore environmental studies major at SJU, said the race, which is open to the public, draws participants from all corners of CSB/SJU's community.

"Because it's our largest event it attracts a wide variety of people," he said. "We have participants doing the triathlon that we don't normally see at other OLC events." 

One familiar face at the Fruit at the Finish belonged to Philip English, a senior communication major from Minnetonka, Minnesota. Like Kleespie's team, English notched a three-peat as the race's male individual winner this year. 

English is a member of the Saint John's swimming and diving team. He's competed in more than 20 triathlons including the 2013 ITU Short Course Triathlon in London, where he raced on the same course used by Olympic athletes during the 2012 Summer Games. 

He said he likes to share his love of triathlons with the CSB/SJU community.

"I really like to do it to represent this sport at this school and show what I do," English said. "I try to have fun with it. Almost everybody participating in this is trying to do the same thing."

It's not just participants who find themselves having fun with this annual spring tradition. 

"The monks get really excited," Kleespie said. "For the past few years we've brought our trophy home and displayed it by the community bulletin board. It kind of gives them something to get excited about at the end of the day.

"We might not win a baseball game or a football game as a monastery but we can take this home."