“It is always an honor and a privilege for our committee to select the USA Triathlon Athlete of the Year awards for these outstanding athletes. Their dedication and commitment to our sport is obvious in the highly competitive pool of candidates,” said Steve Sutherland, chair of the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee Athlete of the Year subcommittee. “The competition for these awards was very close, and the committee put in many hours reviewing race results and head-to-head competition from local, national and world championship races in order to make the final award selections. Some of these athletes also were highly competitive in duathlons and off-road triathlons, showcasing their depth of talent at multiple disciplines. Congratulations to all of our awardees.”
Top honors were awarded to Barrett LeHardy (Roanoke, Va.) and Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), who were named overall Age-Group Triathletes of the Year. LeHardy was the overall winner of the USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance National Championships, and posted the fastest overall time of the day en route to the 25-29 world title at the ITU Age-Group Standard Triathlon World Championships in Chicago. He also won Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon and the Tidewater Sprint, which he won by more than 5 minutes.
Sass was crowned the 35-39 champion for both ITU Age-Group Sprint and Standard Triathlon World Championships in Chicago, with the fastest overall time in the Standard Worlds event and the second fastest overall time in Sprint Worlds. She was also the overall champion at Long Course Triathlon Nationals, the 35-39 champion at Olympic-Distance Nationals with the second fastest overall time, and second in the 35-39 age group at Sprint Nationals.
Masters Triathletes of the Year awards were bestowed upon Tony Schiller (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Coleen De Reuck (Boulder, Colo.). Schiller won the 55-59 age group on back-to-back days at Age Group Nationals, earning the Olympic-Distance Nationals title by more than 5 minutes. He was also the 55-59 champion at ITU Standard Triathlon Worlds and the 55-59 runner-up for Sprint Worlds. De Reuck excelled at longer distances, winning the 50-54 age group at the IRONMAN World Championship by a margin of 13:51. She was also the 50-54 age-group champion at IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder, posting the ninth-fastest time among all women (elite and age-group) and the overall women’s champion at the Harvest Moon Long Course Triathlon.
Greg Taylor (Yankton, S.D.) and Ellen Hart (Denver, Colo.) earned Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year honors. Taylor earned the honor for the second-straight year, and was the Grand Masters champion at both Olympic-Distance Nationals and Sprint Nationals and the 60-64 champion at the IRONMAN World Championship. Hart earned a number of titles in 2015, becoming the 55-59 champion at IRONMAN World Championship, IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, and both ITU Age-Group Sprint and Standard Triathlon Worlds, as well as the 55-59 runner-up at Sprint Nationals.
The Off-Road Triathletes of the Year title went to Cole Bunn (Bettendorf, Iowa) and Julie Baker (Sorona, Calif.). Bunn was the 20-24 champion and second overall (age-group) finisher at USA Triathlon Off-Road Nationals/XTERRA Southeast Championship, and also clocked in as the top amateur finisher at XTERRA USA Championship. Baker’s highlights include finishing as the top amateur at the XTERRA USA Championship (and fourth overall woman), as well as the overall age-group women’s champion at XTERRA Worlds, winning the 35-39 age group by over 8 minutes.
Jack Toland (Kirkland, Wash.) and Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.) round out the triathlon award winners as the Junior Triathletes of the Year for accomplishments in non-drafting events. This is the second consecutive year Toland has picked up the honor, becoming the 18-19 champion at ITU Age-Group Standard Triathlon Worlds, the bronze medalist in the 16-19 age group for the ITU Age-Group Sprint Triathlon Worlds, bronze medalist in the 16-19 age group at Sprint Nationals and silver medalist in the 16-19 age group at Olympic-Distance Nationals. Knibb was the overall women’s champion at USA Triathlon Sprint Nationals and 10th overall among men and women, as well as the women’s winner and second overall (among men and women) at Lake Montclair Triathlon and first overall (men and women) at the General Smallwood Sprint Triathlon.
The 2015 USA Triathlon Age-Group Triathletes of the Year and honorable mention selections are as follows:
Men’s Triathlete of the Year: Barrett LeHardy (Roanoke, Va.)
Honorable Mention: Kyle Hooker (Burlington, Wash.), Daniel Stubleski (Washington, Mich.), Lucas Pozzetta (Merrimack, N.H.), James Burke (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), Matthew Payne (Columbia Heights, Minn.)
Women’s Triathlete of the Year: Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.)
Honorable Mention: Sarah Alexander (Chicago, Ill.), Lauren Capone (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Skye Murphy (Salt Lake City, Utah), Abby Levene (Boulder, Colo.), Jennifer Garrison (Naperville, Ill.)
Men’s Masters Triathlete of the Year: Tony Schiller (Eden Prairie, Minn.)
Honorable Mention: Mark Harms (Madison, Wis.), Shane Arters (San Mateo, Calif.), Kevin O’Connor (Medina, Minn.), Chris Montross (Fresno, Calif.), Christopher Thomas (Easton, Conn.)
Women’s Masters Triathlete of the Year: Colleen De Reuck (Boulder, Colo.)
Honorable Mention: Adrienne LeBlanc (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Kelly Dippold (Overland Park, Kan.), Cheryl Zitur (Corcoran, Minn.), Lisbeth Kenyon (Barrington, R.I.), Amy McGrath (Spring Branch, Texas)
Men’s Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year: Greg Taylor (Yankton, S.D.)
Honorable Mention: Roger Little (Newtonville, Mass.), Vern Holthouse (Acampo. Calif.), Roger Brockenbrough (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Douglas Hill (Tacoma, Wash.), Bill Ziering (Carmel, Calif.)
Women’s Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year: Ellen Hart (Denver, Colo.)
Honorable Mention: Cherie Gruenfeld (Cathedral City, Calif.), Laura Sophiea (Atlanta, Ga.), Bridget Dawson (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), Nancy Avitabile (Bethesda, Md.), Karen McKeachie (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Men’s Off-Road Triathlete of the Year: Cole Bunn (Bettendorf, Iowa)
Honorable Mention: Matthew Balzer (Reno, Nev.)
Women’s Off-Road Triathlete of the Year: Julie Baker (Sorona, Calif.)
Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Gruber (Loma Linda, Calif.)
Men’s Junior Triathlete of the Year: Jack Toland (Kirkland, Wash.)
Honorable Mention: Timothy Winslow (Elk Grove, Calif.)
Women’s Junior Triathlete of the Year: Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.)
Honorable Mention: Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.)
About USA TriathlonUSA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).