More than 1,000 Young Triathletes to Compete for National Titles in West Chester This Weekend

Aug. 02, 2017, 6:38 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — This Saturday and Sunday, more than 1,000 up-and-coming triathletes ages 7-19 will return to Voice of America Park in West Chester, Ohio, for the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships. The event is being held in West Chester for the sixth consecutive year and will return annually through 2021.

Racing begins on Saturday with the draft-legal Youth Elite (ages 13-15) and Junior Elite (ages 16-19) National Championships. Athletes in these races earned spots on the start list through qualifying events, including last year’s national championship and the six draft-legal events that made up the 2017 USA Triathlon Junior Elite Series. 

The junior elite race, beginning at 8 a.m. for women and 9:40 a.m. for men, will feature a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. 

Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.), who placed third for junior elite women last year, will be returning to the start line in West Chester after winning the USA Triathlon High School National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in April. Last year’s Youth Elite runner-up, Makena Gates (Canton, Ga.), will be moving up to the Junior Elite level this year, as will Zach Wilson (Carmel, Ind.), who won two consecutive Youth Elite titles in 2015 and 2016.

The Youth Elite races begin Saturday at 11:05 a.m. for girls and 12:05 p.m. for boys, and will cover a 375m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run. 

Girls’ defending champion Maryhelen Albright (Roanoake, Va.) will look to earn back-to-back national titles, but will be challenged by 2016 runner-up Olivia Wade (San Diego, Calif.). In the boys’ youth elite race, 2016 runner-up Andrew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.) is the top returner; Shellenberger has had a strong start to the 2017 season, winning the boys’ high school national title in Tuscaloosa in April.

Both the junior elite and youth elite races feature the draft-legal racing format contested at the Olympic Games and other senior elite-level ITU competitions. Several members of the USA Triathlon National Team — including 2016 Olympians Ben Kanute and Greg Billington, 2015 Pan American Games silver medalist Kevin McDowell and 2016 Junior World Champion Taylor Knibb —  all began their triathlon careers on the youth and junior elite racing circuits.  

On Sunday, junior elite triathletes ages 13-19 will return to the start line for the Mixed Team Relay event at 7:30 a.m. The draft-legal team relay features four competitors (two male, two female) per team. Each team member will complete a 250m swim, 5k bike and 1.2k run before handing off to the next athlete. Fifty relay teams are currently scheduled to compete. 

The Mixed Team Relay format is similar to what is contested at the ITU Mixed Team Relay World Championships, in which Team USA won a silver medal in June. The event will make its Olympic debut on the program of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The weekend concludes with the Youth Age-Group National Championships, in which athletes ages 7-15 have the opportunity to earn national titles in their age groups. The race, which has no qualifying criteria, is set for 10:40 a.m. Course distances are age-based, with athletes ages 7-10 completing a 100m swim, 5k bike and 1k run, and ages 11-15 completing a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run. In addition, 11 athletes will compete in the Para Open division, which follows the same course as the 11- to 15-year-olds. 

Defending champions in the youth age-group race include Colton Blankenfeld (Archer, Fla., boys’ age 8); Eve Frost (Suffolk, Va., girls’ age 9); Ryder Fetterolf (Sewickley, Pa., boys’ age 9); Hazel Wells (Richmond, Va., girls’ age 10); Ian Henderson (Midlothian, Va., boys’ age 10); Clare Anne Dasso (New Braunfels, Texas, girls’ age 11); Jack Diemar (Eagle, Colo., boys’ age 11); and Hannah Fetterolf (Sewickley, Pa., girls’ age 12).

For the fourth year, USA Triathlon is supporting children in underserved communities through its Tri for Change program. This program provides youth with the opportunity to train for a triathlon with a dedicated coach, culminating in a premier race experience at the Youth National Championships. 

As part of the program, children receive a training plan and guidance from a USA Triathlon Certified Coach, as well as financial support for travel, race entry and membership fees. The 2017 program includes 12 participants. For more information, visit usatriathlon.org/triforchange

For the first time at Youth & Junior Nationals, athletes, their friends and family can follow the action with the USA Triathlon National Events App. The app features athlete tracking, event schedules, selfie filters and more, and is available for free download on iPhone and Android devices. For more information, visit usatriathlon.org/eventsapp.  

Live race coverage will also be available at usatriathlon.org and on Twitter at @USATLive

Visit usatriathlon.org/usatjr17 for complete event information for the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships. To apply for a media credential, please fill out the USAT National Events Media Credential Request Form or contact Caryn Maconi, USA Triathlon Communications Manager, at caryn.maconi@usatriathlon.org or 719-955-2828.

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).