WEST CHESTER, Ohio — Taylor Knibb, Grant Jarvis, Maryhelen Albright and Zach Wilson won Junior Elite and Youth Elite national titles on Saturday at Voice of America Park to open a weekend of racing with a field of nearly 900 triathletes at the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships.
In the day's first event, defending junior elite champion Knibb (Washington, D.C.) broke away on the swim and maintained a solid lead throughout the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run course. She exited the water 30 seconds ahead of her competitors and increased her lead by riding solo on the bike. She raced to gold in 1 hour, 1 minute, 49 seconds. Page Lester (Washington, D.C.) finished second in 1:03:19 and Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.) earned third in 1:04:20.
"It was perfect conditions. Great race, great course, well put on event. It's probably one of the most competitive races all year in the U.S.," Knibb said.
The junior elite men's race came down to a sprint to the finish. Alec Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif.) led out of the water and was joined by Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.) on the bike. They rode out front with 30 seconds on the chase group and exited T2 together. A group of four closed in on the second lap of the run, including Jarvis (Texarkana, Texas), who had the fastest run split of the day. Jarvis was victorious in 57:20. McQueen took second in 57:23 and Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.) finished third in 57:25.
"I feel like I'm dreaming honestly — just praise God. I have tears coming out of my eyes; I can't believe it. These are amazing guys that I'm racing. I wanted to come out and get top five at best, and to win it is more than I could have ever asked for," Jarvis said. "The last 400 I just kicked it, and thankfully it was enough to plow ahead."
The youth elite women's race was on a 375m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run course. Albright (Roanoke, Va.) came out of the water in third behind Addison Smith (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Calista Murray (Alpharetta, Ga.). Albright and Smith worked together on the bike as several small packs tried to catch them. Albright took it away on the run and was crowned the youth elite national champion in 34:35. Olivia Wade (San Diego, Calif.) earned silver in 34:43 and Makena Gates (Canton, Ga.) raced to bronze in 34:54.
"I came out in probably the most perfect spot I could on the swim. Addison Smith, she's definitely a great swimmer, so I was trying to stay with her on the swim so I could stay with her on the bike. We led ahead and no one caught us," Albright said.
The youth elite men competed in the final race of the day, where defending champion Wilson (Carmel, Ind.) exited the water 13 seconds ahead of Elite Multisport teammate Andrew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.). Wilson had a gutsy solo ride trying to hold off Shellenberger, who caught him heading onto the run. They raced side-by-side on the two-lap run course around the lake, and Wilson triumphed in the end, taking the tape in 31:59. Shellenberger finished second in 32:05 and Thomas Gastineau (Carmel, Ind.) raced to third in 32:27.
"Me and Drew train together, we're friends, so it was easy to work together. We were both going for that No. 1 spot because we're both capable of it. It [comes down to] who's going to be better on that day," Wilson said.
Racing resumes on Sunday with an action-packed draft-legal mixed team relay at 7:30 a.m. ET, followed by the age-group Youth National Championships at 10:40 a.m. ET. Youth Nationals competitors will compete in a 100m swim, 5k bike and a 1k run for ages 7-10 and a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run for athletes ages 11-15.
Visit usatriathlon.org/usatjr16 for more information on USA Triathlon Youth & Junior Nationals.
2016 USA Triathlon Junior & Youth National Championships Results
Junior Elites: 750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Youth Elites: 375m swim, 10k bike, 2.5k run
Junior Elite Women
1. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), 1:01:49
2. Page Lester (Washingnton, D.C.), 1:03:19
3. Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.), 1:04:20
Junior Elite Men
1. Grant Jarvis (Texarkana, Texas), 57:20
2. Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.), 57:23
3. Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.), 57:25
Youth Elite Women
1. Maryhelen Albright (Roanoke, Va.), 34:35
2. Olivia Wade (San Diego, Calif.), 34:43
3. Makena Gates (Canton, Ga.), 34:54
Youth Elite Men
1. Zach Wilson (Carmel, Ind.), 31:59
2. Andrew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.), 32:05
3. Thomas Gastineau (Carmel, Ind.), 32:27
About USA Triathlon
USA 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).