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NEWS | July 11, 2024

Army Reserve Soldier finds his niche in triathlons

By Joe Lacdan Army News Service

Nicholas Sterghos faced a crossroads in his athletic career at the U.S. Military Academy.

Multiple fractures, aches and ankle injuries contributed to him missing time running with the Black Knights’ cross country and track teams from 2005-2006.

The depression that followed grew so encompassing, that the Georgia native considered leaving West Point and his potential military career behind.

“I had basically left the team, and I was kind of deciding on if I wanted to stay at West Point, because cross country and track had been such a big part of my life,” said Sterghos, now a major and operations officer in the Army Reserve.

Sterghos had admittedly pushed his body too far. He hadn’t properly hydrated and consumed enough calories, he said. He didn’t focus enough on recovery after strenuous workouts and runs. He said stress from classwork also contributed to his injuries.

“I, in a way, kind of lost that identity,” he added. “And so, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do in my life. It stressed me, mentally and emotionally.”

Then a teammate introduced Sterghos to a different endurance sport: the triathlon. Sterghos, a then-sophomore at the U.S. Military Academy, began training with the Black Knights’ triathlon club team before officially making the squad in 2007, his junior season. In the triathlon, Sterghos could still be competitive and have diversity in his sport as triathletes compete in swimming, cycling, and running.

“[Triathlons] still had that same endurance component,” Sterghos said. “I also enjoyed the team atmosphere along with just having some good teammates to support me, and having the opportunity to travel, and do some international competitions, that's just kind of what I was really drawn to.”

He began competing regularly at triathlons while earning a bachelor’s degree in life sciences. In Sterghos’ fourth triathlon at nationals, he crossed the line in 33rd place, while the Black Knights finished third as a team. As a senior, he jumped to 8th place at nationals, leading Army to another third-place finish.

And by his graduation in 2009. he learned of a new challenge prior to his first assignment at then-Fort Hood, Texas: the Armed Forces Triathlon championship.

Sterghos competed in the 2009 Armed Forces Triathlon Championships, earning third place. Four years later, Sterghos won the first of his two Armed Forces Triathlon Championships in 2013. He also finished 32nd at the 2019 Conseil International du Sport Militaire [CISM] World Military Games, becoming the first American to cross the finish line in Wuhan, China.

Today, with more than 200 triathlons under his belt, Sterghos learned to be more flexible in his training and to take time off to spend with family and coaching other endurance athletes. As a registered dietician nutritionist in Boulder, Colorado, he advocates for a healthy diet, while training as a professional triathlete.

On July 29, Sterghos finished fourth behind Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Hooker, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Warrick and Air Force 2nd Lt. Samuel Busa at the 2024 Armed Forces Marathon. During an overcast, cool day, Sterghos struggled to open the race finishing 13th in the 1,500 meter swim, but steadily climbed back into contention during the bike race and run. He led all competitors in transition two before finishing fourth overall at 1:56:41.

Prior to the 2024 race, Sterghos shared a different perspective on how he approaches triathlons at 37. He places less emphasis on the competitive side and more on personal growth and enjoyment.

“My expectations are just to go out and have a good race,” he said before the 2024 triathlon. “I want to have fun doing it, or it’s not worth going to these competitions anymore.”