Young triathletes ages 7-19 from across the United States will compete for national titles at this weekend's USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships at Voice of America Park in West Chester, Ohio. This year's event has sold out for the first time in the event's history.
Nine podium finishers from the 2013 event highlight the field of 250 junior elite and youth elite triathletes set to race on Saturday morning, beginning at 8 a.m. ET. Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), the first U.S. woman to ever win the ITU Junior World Championships title and last year's junior elite national champion, is on the start list, as well as last year's runner-up Devon Dabney (Atlanta, Ga.). Kyleigh Spearing (Frankfort, Ill.) ages up to the junior elite level and seeks to repeat a podium finish after claiming second in the youth elite event last year. In the youth elite events, Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.) and Grace Obando (Herndon, Va.) are looking to finish on the podium again this year after finishing first and third in 2013.
Junior elite men's runner-up Brent Demarest (Charleston, S.C.) is slated to compete against a deep field of junior elite men, including Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.) and Benjamin Dingman (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who all finished on the podium in the youth elite event in 2013 and move up to the junior elite ranks this year.
Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), who qualified to represent the U.S. in triathlon at the Aug. 16-28 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, will also compete in the junior elite men's race. Gorman, Demarest and Rider are also preparing for the ITU Junior World Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, scheduled for Aug. 29. Other members of the world championships team competing this weekend in West Chester are Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) and Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.). Stephanie Jenks (Aurora, Iowa), last year's third-place finisher in the junior elite women's race, will represent the U.S. in Nanjing and Edmonton but is not on the start list for this weekend.
Additionally, 16 young aspiring triathletes will compete on Saturday afternoon as part of USA Triathlon's Tri For Change program. The athletes live in the local area and the race on Saturday is the culmination of an eight-week training program held at the Blue Ash YMCA in Cincinnati. Athletes received coaching and triathlon gear as part of the program, meant to introduce the sport to youth who may otherwise not have the opportunity to try the sport and encourage healthy, active lifestyles. More on the program is available at usatriathlon.org/triforchange.
The national championship weekend kicks off Saturday, Aug. 2 at 8 a.m. with the Junior Elite (ages 16-19) and Youth Elite (ages 13-15) National Championships. Junior elites will complete a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course, while youth elites race a 375m swim, 10k bike, 2.5k run course. Junior elite and youth elites will also compete in the Mixed Team Relay event at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3 with a draft-legal team relay for athletes ages 13-19, in which four competitors (two male, two female) will each complete a 250m swim, a 5k bike and a 1.2k run.
The age-group Youth National Championships will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, and will feature athletes ages 7-15, with national titles awarded to each age division. The competitive distances range from a 100m swim, 5k bike and a 1k run for ages 7-10 to a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run for athletes ages 11-15.
Visit usatriathlon.org/usatyjr14 for more information on the event.
More than 800 athletes and 50 relay teams are expected to compete in the weekend's events, which are centered at Voice of America Park. Event admission is free to all spectators. Road closures will be in place on Cox Road and Liberty Way in West Chester to accommodate the bike portion of the event both days. More information on road closures is available online from the Butler County Visitor's Bureau (PDF download).
This is the third consecutive year Youth & Junior Nationals has been held in West Chester, and the event will return to Voice of America Park again in 2015 as part of a partnership with USA Triathlon and the Butler County Visitor's Bureau. Athletes, families and spectators will bring an estimated $1.8 million impact to the local economy over the weekend.