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USA Triathlon is pleased to announce the 2009 Elite Athletes of the Year, an honor awarded annually by the USAT Athlete Advisory Council.
Sarah Haskins and Jarrod Shoemaker were named Olympic/ITU Triathletes of the Year. The Non-ITU Athlete of the Year honors went to Rebeccah Wassner and Timothy O’Donnell. For their first year of elite competition, Hayley Piersol and Kyle Leto were named Rookie of the Year. Jennifer Spieldenner and Dustin McLarty earned U23 Athlete of the Year honors. Junior elite athletes also earned Athlete of the Year awards, with Jessica Broderick and Kevin McDowell in triathlon and Kate Buss and Lukas Verzbicas in duathlon.
These athletes were nominated by their elite athlete peers, according to Ryan Bickerstaff, the chairman of the council. Across the categories, there were about 17 nominations, and the nominees were asked to supply resumes of their accomplishments. The elite athletes voted in an informal poll, and the seven members of the AAC then voted for the winners.
“The Athletes Advisory Council had a tough job selecting from a lot of outstanding performers in 2009,” said Scott Schnitzspahn, USAT’s director of sport performance. “These athletes came through at big events and had consistent top performances that earned them these honors. It’s exciting to have all of these athletes wearing USA at competitions at home and abroad in many different disciplines within our sport.”
Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo./St. Louis, Mo.) and Shoemaker (Maynard, Mass.) had great showings in 2009, each ending the year ranked in the top 10 of the ITU World Championship Rankings. Haskins placed fourth at the ITU World Championship Grand Final and won the 2009 Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series – Race to the Toyota Cup. Shoemaker not only won the ITU World Championship Series event in Hamburg, Germany, but had a come-from-behind photo finish victory at the ITU Duathlon World Championship.
The other award recipients also had notable accomplishments:
Rebeccah Wassner (New York, N.Y) – won St. Anthony’s Triathlon and New York City Triathlon
Timothy O’Donnell (Boulder, Colo.) – 2009 Long Course World Champion and finished second at the 2009 USAT Elite National Championship
Hayley Peirsol (Malibu, Calif.) – placed third at the 2009 USAT Elite National Championship
Kyle Leto (Davis, Calif.) – placed fifth at the 2009 San Francisco ITU Triathlon Pan American Cup
Jennifer Spieldenner (Findlay, Ohio) – U23 champion at the 2009 USAT Elite National Championship (fifth overall)
Dustin McLarty (Irvine, Calif.) – 2009 USAT U23 Elite National Champion (seventh overall)
Jessica Broderick (Middlebury, Conn./Boulder, Colo.) – 2009 USAT Collegiate National Champion
Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) – 2009 USA Triathlon Elite Junior National Champion
Kate Buss (Blacksburg, Va.) – placed seventh at the 2009 ITU Duathlon Junior World Championship
Lukas Verzbicas (New Lenox, Ill.) – 2009 ITU Duathlon Junior World Champion