COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced its roster of 2017 Age-Group Triathletes of the Year, an award presented annually by Garmin and selected by USA Triathlon’s Age Group Committee.
Nick Noone (Boulder, Colo.) claimed top honors for overall Men’s Age-Group Triathlete of the Year, while Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.) earned the title of overall Women’s Age-Group Triathlete of the Year for the third consecutive year and fourth year in total (2013, 2015-2017).
Noone’s 2017 season began with an individual Olympic-distance victory at April’s USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a performance that helped the University of Colorado to its eighth straight team title. He went on to claim the overall win at IRONMAN Santa Rosa in May, his first foray into the full-IRONMAN distance. In June, Noone claimed the men’s 18-24 age group title and placed ninth overall at IRONMAN 70.3 Victoria.
“With a 2017 season full of highs and lows, this is a humbling award to receive,” Noone said. “Many thanks to USA Triathlon, my family, and my CU Boulder and EMJ teammates.”
Sass’ standout 2017 was highlighted by a sweep of the women’s overall sprint and Olympic-distance titles at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Omaha, Nebraska, in August. Though she was the overall sprint-distance champion in 2016, the Olympic-distance victory was a first.
Sass also spent part of her 2017 season competing as a guide for Amy Dixon, a visually impaired elite paratriathlete. Sass guided Dixon (Encinitas, Calif.) to a fifth-place finish in the women’s PTVI division at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in September, and a bronze medal at ITU World Paratriathlon Edmonton in July.
“Never underestimate the power of inspiring someone,” Sass said. “This one is for my father, who started it all. And to those who keep encouraging, supporting, fixing and motivating me — thank you.”
The Masters Triathlete of the Year honors were awarded to Lee Walther (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Adrienne Leblanc (Scottsdale, Ariz.). Walther swept the sprint and Olympic-distance men’s 55-59 titles at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, and went on to claim an Olympic-distance age-group world title in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in September.
Leblanc claimed the women’s Olympic-distance masters’ and 45-49 titles at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships before racing to an age-group world title in Rotterdam.
Greg Taylor (Yankton, S.D.) and Missy LeStrange (Visalia, Calif.) earned Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year titles. Both athletes were successful from the sprint to full-IRONMAN distances in 2017. Taylor placed second for men 60-64 at the USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships in Omaha, first in his age group at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in September, and second in his age group at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, in October.
LeStrange’s season highlights included a sprint-distance national title for women 65-69, and age-group wins at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and IRONMAN World Championship.
Off-Road Triathlete of the Year honors went to Nelson Hegg (Boulder, Colo.) and Deanna McCurdy (Littleton, Colo.). Hegg was the second overall amateur, first U.S. athlete and men’s 20-24 champion at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in Penticton, B.C., in August. He also earned age-group wins at XTERRA Beaver Creek in July and the XTERRA Pan-American Championship in Ogden, Utah, in September.
McCurdy was the first overall female at the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championships in June in Arkadelphia, Arkansas; the first amateur female at the XTERRA Pan American Championship; and the fourth overall amateur and first U.S. woman at the XTERRA World Championship.
Rounding out the age-group winners are Andy Krueger (Portland, Ore.) and Katelyn Elliott (Houston, Texas), who were named Junior Triathletes of the Year for their accomplishments in non-drafting events. Krueger was the men’s 15-19 champion at the USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships. He placed 11th for men 16-19 and was the top American overall in the sprint race at the ITU Age Group World Championships in Rotterdam, and he ended the season ranked No. 2 nationally for men 18-19.
Elliott started her season with a fifth-place finish at the USA Triathlon High School National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in April. She placed fourth (Olympic-distance) and sixth (sprint-distance) for women 17-19 at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, and was the overall women’s Olympic-distance champion at the Kemah Triathlon in Houston in October.
The 2017 USA Triathlon Age-Group Triathletes of the Year and honorable mention selections are as follows:
Men’s Triathlete of the Year: Nick Noone (Boulder, Colo.)
Honorable Mentions: Evan Culbert (Johnston, Iowa), Kevin Denny (Lees Summit, Mo.), James Burke (Middleton, Wis.), Lee Walther (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Greg Taylor (Yankton, S.D.)
Women’s Triathlete of the Year: Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.)
Honorable Mentions: Ali Brauer (Boulder, Colo.), Madeleine Pesch (Madison, Wis.), Maeghan Easler (Des Moines, Iowa), Missy LeStrange (Visalia, Calif.), Adrienne Leblanc (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Men’s Masters Triathlete of the Year: Lee Walther (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
Honorable Mentions: Daniel Stubleski (Washington, Mich.), Ritch Viola (Tiburon, Calif.), Robert Skaggs (Solana Beach, Calif.), David Burger (Old Forge, N.Y.), Kyle Welch (Sunnyvale, Calif.)
Women’s Masters Triathlete of the Year: Adrienne Leblanc (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Honorable Mentions: Peggy Yetman (Spring, Texas), Beni Gras-Thompson (Roanoke, Va.), Steph Popelar (Elizabeth, Colo.), Colleen De Reuck (Boulder, Colo.), Lisbeth Kenyon (Barrington, R.I.)
Men’s Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year: Greg Taylor (Yankton, S.D.)
Honorable Mentions: Ron Gierut (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Peter Turek (Hampton, N.J.), Simon Butterworth (Lafayette, Colo.), Jon Adamson (Alpharetta, Ga.), Ron Ottaway (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Women’s Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year: Missy LeStrange (Visalia, Calif.)
Honorable Mentions: Ellen Hart (Denver, Colo.), Kelly Dippold (Olathe, Kan.), Sharon Johnson (Andover, Mass.), Sibyl Jacobson (New York, N.Y.), Lois Leon (Miami, Fla.)
Men’s Off-Road Triathlete of the Year: Nelson Hegg (Boulder, Colo.)
Honorable Mentions: Johnny Davis (Boulder, Colo.)
Women’s Off-Road Triathlete of the Year: Deanna McCurdy (Littleton, Colo.)
Honorable Mentions: Martha Buttner (Boulder, Colo.)
Men’s Junior Triathlete of the Year: Andy Krueger (Portland, Ore.)
Honorable Mentions: Konor Sacks (El Cajon, Calif.)
Women’s Junior Triathlete of the Year: Katelyn Elliott (Houston, Texas)
Honorable Mentions: Claire Wolff (McLean, Va.)
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 more than 400,000 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).