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With continental championship titles on the line, draft-legal racing will continue in Florida for a second straight weekend with the PATCO Sprint Triathlon Pan American Championships and Junior North American Championships set to take place Saturday in Nathan Benderson Park.
Read the race preview from USA Triathlon below:
More than 80 international elites will complete a one-lap 750-meter swim, a three-lap 20-kilometer bike, and a one-lap 5-kilometer run. The women’s race is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET, followed by the men at 2 p.m. ET.
Sarah Haskins (Clermont, Fla.) highlights the field following her win at the March 1 Clermont Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup. Also on the start list for the U.S. are Sara McLarty (Clermont, Fla.) and Kaitlin Donner (Satellite Beach, Fla.), who finished in the top 10 in Clermont. Other top-10 finishers from March 1 slated to compete include Canadians Joanna Brown and Amelie Kretz, who finished third and fourth, respectively, and fifth-place finisher Anne Tabarant from France.
In the men’s race, Lukas Verzbicas (Chula Vista, Calif.) leads the American men following a ninth-place finish in Clermont on March 1. Other U.S. men scheduled to complete the double in Florida include 10th-place finisher Jarrod Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.) and Hunter Lussi (Kensington, Md.), who was 11th. Canadian Andrew Yorke is the top athlete from Clermont scheduled to race in Sarasota following a second-place finish.
The Junior North American Championships will feature more than 130 up-and-coming triathletes ages 16-19 on the same sprint course as the elites. The record field is more than triple the size of the field from 2012 when the event was last held, and Canada has over 50 athletes racing. The junior women are set to start on Saturday at 9:45 a.m. ET, and the junior men will begin at 11 a.m.
The U.S. team includes talented athletes with race experience on national and world championship stages. Malia Ellington (Davidson, N.C.) was the 2013 national and world champion in the 16-19 age group and finished sixth in the Clermont Elite Development Race on March 1. Stephanie Jenks (Aurora, Iowa) competed for the U.S. at 2013 ITU Junior Worlds in London, and Avery Evenson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) represents the Elite Triathlon Academy, based at University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
Junior men to watch include 2013 ITU Junior Worlds competitors Brent Demarest (Charleston, S.C.) and Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), who each claimed national titles in 2012. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) is also planning to compete following a fourth-place finish in the Clermont Elite Development Race. The trio of junior men also earned All-American and Honorable Mention honors for their 2013 performances.
The junior event will qualify athletes for PATCO Junior Championships in Dallas, Texas, on May 31, and juniors ages 16-17 are also vying for spots in the Youth Olympic Games Continental Qualifier in Monterrey, Mexico, on May 2, which will qualify athletes for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. S
In addition to the PATCO Sprint Triathlon Pan American Championships and the Junior North American Championships, weekend events also include youth F1 races for athletes 12-16, a non-draft age-group event, and the PATCO Mixed Relay Championships.
“Hosting a continental championship event alongside the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon gives us the opportunity to showcase our world-class venue to the multisport community and our dedication to grow the sport to the highest level,” said Paul Blackketter, Chief Operating Officer of the SunCoast Aquatic Nature Center Association, which is host of the weekend’s events.
“The stage is set for a terrific weekend of racing for athletes of all abilities,” said Bill Burnett, race director with Streamline Events. “These races will showcase some of the best triathlon talent in the U.S., and since the events are free and open to the public, we invite everyone to come out and enjoy all the fast-paced action.”
More details on the relay event will be released tomorrow, and complete event information can be found at Sarasotatri.com.