TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – High school triathletes Andrew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.) earned national titles Friday at the 2017 USA Triathlon High School National Championships.
The event, which drew about 130 athletes, was held for the second consecutive year in conjunction with the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships. Athletes completed a non-drafting, sprint-distance course featuring a 750m swim, 20.25k bike and 5k run.
In the boys’ race, Shellenberger came out of the water in 9 minutes, 47 seconds, just 10 seconds back from lead swimmer Christopher Ale Robinson (Memphis, Tenn.). Shellenberger quickly moved into the lead on the bike, covering the 20.25k course in a race-leading 31:18. He held onto his lead through the 5k run, putting down the third-fastest run of the day in 18:32 to finish in 1 hour, 2 minutes, 35 seconds.
Luis Ortiz (Orlando, Fla.) placed second in 1:04:16, and Austin Podhajsky (Parker, Colo.) crossed the line in 1:05:35 for third place.
“The conditions were very hot, the winds out on the back side of the bike course were rough for the second and third lap, and then on the run course that hill coming out of transition really kills you, so I don’t know how I pulled it off,” Shellenberger said. “It means a lot to me to be on top in a sport like this — it’s been a blessing.”
In the girls’ race, Addison Smith (Knoxville, Tenn.) exited the water first in 8:36, followed by a chase pack including Claire Wolff (McLean, Va.), Leah Drengenberg (Dixon, Ill.) Ernst and Tessa Brennan (Aurora, Ill.)
Ernst gradually built a gap on the rest of the field on the bike, recording the fastest bike split of the day in 36:37. She maintained her gap during the 5k run to finish nearly a minute ahead of her closest competitor in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 53 seconds. Grace Obando (Herndon, Va.) ran her way into second place with a race-leading 21:01 5k split, crossing the line in 1:11:52. Lauren Garriques (Lake Forest, Ill.) rounded out the podium in third in 1:13:38.
“It was definitely one of the hottest triathlons I’ve ever raced in. I was really challenged both mentally and physically,” Ernst said. “I just tried to leave my heart out on the course and push myself to the max.”
Ernst also raced at the inaugural High School National Championships in Clemson, South Carolina last year, where she placed second.
“It’s an incredible experience to have a sport like this at the high school level,” Ernst said. “It’s really nice to have people who are my age that I can connect with, and there’s so much opportunity.”
In the club standings, Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club overwhelmingly won the overall title with 493 points. North Georgia High School Regional Team placed second with 211, while M3 Northern Virginia Region Triathlon Team was third with 170.
Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club also took the girls’ club title with 320 points, followed by M3 Northern Virginia Regional Triathlon Team with 170 and North Georgia High School Regional Team with 149.
On the boys’ side, Sammy’s Fox Valley took the win with 173 points, Carolina Varsity Tri Club was second with 159, and Phenomena Triz took the third spot with 106.
For more information about the USA Triathlon High School National Championships, visit usatriathlon.org.
2017 USA Triathlon High School Championships
750m swim, 20.25k bike, 5k run
High School Men
1. Andrew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.), 1:02:35
2. Luis Ortiz (Orlando, Fla.), 1:04:16
3. Austin Podhajsky (Parker, Colo.), 1:05:35
4. Jake Baugher (Charlotte, N.C.), 1:06:17
5. Will Cornish (Naperville, Ill.), 1:06:55
High School Women
1. Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.), 1:10:53
2. Grace Obando (Herndon, Va.), 1:11:52
3. Lauren Garriques (Lake Forest, Ill.), 1:13:38
4. Leah Drengenberg (Dixon, Ill.), 1:13:58
5. Katelyn Elliott (Porter, Texas), 1:14:12
Boys’ Club Standings
Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club, 173 points
Carolina Varisty Tri Club, 159 points
Phenomena Triz, 106 points
Girls’ Club Standings
Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club, 320 points
M3 Northern Virginia Regional Triathlon Team, 170 points
North Georgia High School Regional Team, 149 points
Overall Club Standings
Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club, 493 points
North Georgia High School Regional Team, 211 points
M3 Northern Virginia Region Triathlon Team, 170 points