TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Andrew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.) successfully defended his title at the 2018 USA Triathlon High School National Championships on Friday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, while Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.) became a first-time national champion.
The event, which drew a record field of more than 150 athletes, was held for the third consecutive year in conjunction with the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships.
All races at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club & High School National Championships were changed from triathlons (swim-bike-run) to duathlons (run-bike-run) due to strong currents in the Black Warrior River that were deemed unsafe for swimming. The high school athletes in Friday’s race instead completed a 2.5-kilometer run, followed by a non-drafting 21.45-kilometer bike and another 2.5-kilometer run.
In the boys’ race, Austin Podhajsky (Parker, Colo.) took the lead after the first run. He came into the first transition in 8 minutes, 5 seconds, followed closely by Shellenberger in 8:09 and Axel Mateo (Marietta, Ga.) in 8:13. It didn’t take long for Shellenberger to pull ahead on the bike, however, taking the lead from Podhasjsky on the first of four laps. Shellenberger averaged 26.54 miles per hour on the bike, the only athlete to average over 25 mph. By the time he came into the second transition, he had nearly two-and-a-half minutes on Podhajsky in second.
Shellenberger easily held onto his lead through the second run, crossing the finish line with a total time of 48:28. Podhajsky took second in 50:49, followed by Jack DeWeerdt (Hoffman Estates, Ill.) in third in 51:36.
“My dad’s always been a believer that 99.9 percent of the game is mental,” Shellenberger said of adusting to the duathlon format. “The rest is physical. If you can get that mental bit down, it’s totally going to make that big leap in the race. That really has helped me since I was a little boy, since I started triathlon when I was 4 years old. He’s always been telling me that it’s mental. You’ve got to be ready for it.’”
Two athletes competed in the High School Boys’ Paratriathlon Open division. Owen Cravens (Algonquin, Ill.), a visually-impaired athlete competing with guide Eric Palmquist (Geneva, Ill.), finished in 57:03. Jack O’Neil (Colorado Springs, Colo.), an above-the-knee amputee, finished in 1:16:29.
In the girls’ race, Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.) recorded the fastest first run in 8:51, with defending champion Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.) right on her heels. Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.) was third heading onto the bike but quickly took the lead, building a gap on the rest of the field with each passing lap.
Hickey remained in the lead through her second run and broke the tape, with Ernst following in second and Cridge crossing the line third. However, Hickey was assessed a two-minute time penalty, giving her an adjusted time of 56:45. Ernst was also assessed penalties, moving her out of podium position. After all times were adjusted, Cridge was named national champion in 56:10, Hickey took second in 56:45, and Katelyn Elliott (Porter, Texas) was third in 58:54.
In the club standings, Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club swept the boys’ and girls’ and titles for the second consecutive year, and the overall title for the third consecutive year.
In the overall standings, Sammy’s Fox Valley earned a commanding 521 points, while the North Georgia High School Regional Team took second place with 414 points.
On the boys’ side, Sammy’s Fox Valley took the win with 273 points, followed by North Georgia with 225 and the E3 High School Team with 121. The girls’ title went to Sammy’s Fox Valley with 248 points, followed by the Mini Cow Tri Club with 222 and North Georgia with 189.
For more information about the USA Triathlon High School National Championships, visit usatriathlon.org/hs2018. To learn more about the USA Triathlon High School Program and to apply for a USA Triathlon Foundation High School Program Grant, visit usatriathlon.org/hsprogram.
2018 USA Triathlon High School National Championships
2.5k run, 21.45k bike, 2.5k run | Complete Results
High School Boys
1. Drew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind., unattached), 48:28
2. Austin Podhajsky (Parker, Colo., Phenomena Triz), 50:49
3. Jack DeWeerdt (Hoffman Estates, Ill., Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club), 51:36
4. Andy Krueger (Portland, Ore., La Salle High School Portland), 53:00
5. Sean Zaidi (Kernersville, N.C., E3 High School Team), 53:10
High School Girls
1. Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind., Cathedral High School Triathlon Team), 56:10
2. Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo., unattached), 56:45
3. Katelyn Elliott (Porter, Texas, unattached), 58:54
4. Lauren Garriques (Lake Forest, Ill., Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club), 59:24
5. Elizabeth Moore (Knoxville, Tenn., North Georgia High School Regional Team), 59:35
Boys’ Paratriathlon Open Standings
1. Owen Cravens (Algonquin, Ill., Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club) and guide Eric Palmquist (Geneva, Ill.), 57:03
2. Jack O’Neil (Colorado Springs, Colo., Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club), 1:16:29
Boys’ Club Standings
1. Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club, 273
2. North Georgia High School Regional Team, 225
3. E3 High School Team, 121
Girls’ Club Standings
1. Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club, 248
2. Mini Cow Tri Club, 222
3. North Georgia High School Regional Team, 189
Overall Club Standings
1. Sammy’s Fox Valley Region Club, 521
2. North Georgia High School Regional Team, 414