A record number of youth elite and junior elite triathletes raced for national titles amid ideal weather conditions at the USA Triathlon National Junior Olympic Festival in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday.
With a total of 181 athletes, representing close to 40 states, on the start lines for the four races, there was plenty of action and excitement for the friends, family and other spectators that gathered in Memorial Park.
The Youth Elite and Junior Elite races are draft-legal events for those interested in high-performance racing. Many of these athletes are part of the USAT Development Program and have their sights set on competing as professionals and eventually in the Olympic Games.
The day started with the Junior Elite National Championships, with Tanelle Berard of Clive, Iowa, earning the win over pre-race favorite Jessica Broderick of Middlebury, Conn., and 24 other competitors in the girls’ race.
Broderick, the 2009 USAT Collegiate National Champion, finished second, with Stephanie Moroney of Manchester, Mass., taking third over the 750-meter swim, 20k bike, 5k run course.
Berard and Jessica Clay of South Elgin, Ill., escaped T1 together and maintained a lead over the rest of the athletes throughout the bike. Out on the run, Berard (1:05:31) kept up the strong pace, while Broderick (1:07:12) pulled away from the rest of the chase pack and passed Clay for second. Moroney had the day’s fastest run of 19:18 to slide up to third in 1:07:33. Clay finished seventh.
It was the Multisport Madness show in the junior elite men’s division, with a clean sweep for the club out of Illinois. Ben Kanute of Geneva, Ill., used a strong swim to gain an early advantage onto the bike, but teammate Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) bridged up by the end of the fourth lap and the two took to the run together.
They had more than a minute and a half on the rest of the 73-man field, but were really only worried about fellow teammate Lukas Verzbicas, one of the top high school runners in the country. Verzbicas was able to chip away at the lead to pass Kanute and turn in the day’s fastest run of 15:52, but he wasn’t able to catch McDowell, who earned the victory in 58:12. Verzbicas grabbed second in 58:47, with Kanute in third in 1:00:37.
Katharine Lowrey of Chaska , Minn., earned a national title in the youth elite girls championship, just edging Hannah Rae Finchamp of Altadena, Calif., by seven seconds. Finchamp turned in the fastest bike split to make up for the time she lost on the swim, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap on Lowrey. Jenny Brown of Waukee, Iowa, was third. A total of 36 competitors raced on the 375 meter swim, 10k bike, 2.5k run course.
In the youth elite boys division on the same course, Josh Kanute of Geneva, Ill., used a strong kick on the run to pull away from Tony Smoragiewicz of Rapid City, South Dakota, in the final meters. Tony Honeycutt of Tifton, Ga., was running shoulder-to-shoulder with Kanute and Smoragiewicz at the mid-point of the run but fell off the pace to finish third among the 47 competitors.
Multisport Madness claimed the Development Team National Championship based on the performance of all their athletes at the race. Monterrey Bay Multisport was second, followed by Icon One Multisport.
Provided by USA Triathlon.