Youth & Junior Nationals Concludes with Mixed Relay, Age-Group Races

By USA Triathlon | Aug. 04, 2019, 10:15 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Racing action at the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships wrapped up Sunday at Voice of America Park, as the ORIGIN Performance Collaboration squad won the Mixed Relay event and 7-15-year-old athletes won national titles in their respective age groups.  

The Mixed Relay has been contested as part of Youth & Junior Nationals for the past 10 years. Each team is comprised of four athletes, two male and two female. Each competitor covers a 250-meter swim, 5-kilometer bike and 1.2-kilometer run before tagging off to the next teammate, with the fastest combined time winning the race. 

The fast-paced, spectator-friendly format will debut as a medal event at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, giving triathletes the chance to earn two Olympic medals at a single Games for the first time. This year’s Youth & Junior Nationals mixed relay was one of the largest in the event’s history, featuring 62 total teams.

The ORIGIN Performance Collaboration squad, made up of Kira Stanley (Acworth, Ga.), Luis Ortiz (Orlando, Fla.), Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Drew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.) covered the course in a combined time of 1 hour, 8 minutes, 15 seconds — 1 minute, 19 seconds faster than the time recorded by 2018 champions MMTT Sammy’s Gold.

Stanley led off for the ORIGIN Collaboration team and was fifth out of the water. She worked her way up to second on the bike, and by the time she handed off to Ortiz she was just 5 seconds behind Faith Dasso (New Braunfels, Texas) of Alpha1 (Alpha Multisport). 

“It was kind of nerve-racking because I knew we had a really good team, and I knew I had to go out and get us in a good position,” Stanley said. “I knew if I could get Luis in a good position, he could open it up.”

It didn’t take long for Ortiz to move into the lead on the swim, and he only increased that gap over the rest of leg two. He had the fastest leg of the day, completing the entire super-sprint course in 16:07. By the handoff, Ortiz had 19 seconds on Jack DeWeerdt of MMTT Sammy’s Gold. 

From there, the ORIGIN squad continued to pull ahead of the field, as Cridge added 10 more seconds to the lead in leg three and Shellenberger brought the squad home to win by 47 seconds.

“My team made it so easy,” Shellenberger said. “It really took the pressure off of my shoulders having such a tough squad going before me. It couldn’t have been much better. I had a blast, and I was just going out there and giving it my all.”

The Z3 Gold team of Paige Horner (Grimes, Iowa), Nick Holmes (Glendale, Wis.), Olivia Jenks (Ames, Iowa) and Davis Bove (Franklin, Tenn.) took second in 1:09:02. The MMTT Sammy’s Gold squad, comprised of Leah Drengenberg (Dixon, Ill.), Jack DeWeerdt (Hoffman Estates, Ill.), Liberty Ricca (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Ben DeWeerdt (Hoffman Estates, Ill.) rounded out the podium in 1:09:22.

Individual champions for the season-long Youth & Junior Elite Series were also presented Sunday. Complete series standings can be found at usatjuniors.org.

After the relay, more than 600 young athletes took to the course to chase national titles in their age groups. The 7- to 10-year-olds completed a 100m swim, 5k bike and 1k run course, while 11- to 15-year-olds raced on a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run. National champions were crowned in each age group, including four winners from 2018 who successfully defended their titles: Ellie Harlow (Glen Allen, Va.), Joseph McKillop (Elmhurst, Ill.), Andrea Rogerson (Maidens, Va.) and Reese Vannerson (Sugar Land, Texas). 

“I’d like to shout out my parents,” Vannerson said. “They got me out here and they helped me compete. I have a ton of friends out here, so it’s really fun just to be surrounded by great athletes.”

Miles Harbert (Ankeny, Iowa), who won the boys’ age 10 national title, covered the course just 14 seconds faster than second place. 

“It was challenging,” Harbert said. “The wind was kind of blowing me over, but you kind of just had to chase everybody down even if you didn’t want to. And then on that run you just didn’t have any breath, but you had to keep on going. I’m proud of when my dad told me to go if I wanted to win, and I went for it.”

McKenna Mazeski (Aurora, Colo.), winner of the age 13 title, starts ninth grade next year and will run and swim for her high school team. She is relatively new to triathlon, having raced at Youth Nationals for the first time last year. 

“I have never really been a triathlete — but, coming here and seeing all the triathletes, it’s so motivating,” Mazeski said. “Let’s face it, triathlon is one of the hardest sports out there. So, it really makes me want to become more competitive with it.”

Seven paratriathletes also raced on Sunday, covering a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run. Brock Kitterman (Bethel Park, Pa.) earned the win in the boys’ paratriathlon division. Racing alongside guide Hailey Poe (Bridgeville, Pa.), the duo crossed the line in 33:17.

“The atmosphere is incredible,” Kitterman said. “My competitors are awesome. Everyone here — the supporters, the spectators, even those I don’t know who are cheering, it’s incredible. All the paratriathletes out there are so supportive of each other.”

Kitterman is an experienced triathlete, but Sunday’s race was just his second with Poe as his sighted guide. He said their partnership so far has been an ideal one. 

“To work together, you have to be equal or better skilled, which can be really hard to find the faster you are,” Kitterman said. “Just being able to talk to each other, communicate, work together, being able to bike together flawlessly, it’s not easy to find. But when you find the perfect person, it is smooth and incredible.”

The girls’ paratriathlon division champion was Brittney Wheeler (Southbury, Ct.) who, together with her guide Marley Andelman (St. Charles, Ill.), covered the course in 1:02:34.

Voice of America Park has hosted the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships since 2012 and will serve as the event’s host city through 2021. Visit usatriathlon.org/jr2019 for more information, results and recaps from the weekend.

2019 USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships
Mixed Relay: 4x250m swim, 5k draft-legal bike, 1.2k run
Age-Group 7-10: 100m swim, 5k bike, 1k run
Age-Group 11-15: 200m swim, 10k bike, 2k run

Mixed Relay — Complete Results

1. ORIGIN Performance Collaboration — Kira Stanley (Acworth, Ga.), Luis Ortiz (Orlando, Fla.), Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.), Drew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.), 1:08:15
2. Z3 Gold — Paige Horner (Grimes, Iowa), Nick Holmes (Glendale, Wis.), Olivia Jenks (Ames, Iowa), Davis Bove (Franklin, Tenn.), 1:09:02
3. MMTT Sammy’s Gold — Leah Drengenberg (Dixon, Ill.), Jack DeWeerdt (Hoffman Estates, Ill.), Liberty Ricca (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Ben DeWeerdt (Hoffman Estates, Ill.), 1:09:22

Paratriathlon Open Division — Complete Results
Male winner: Brock Kitterman (Bethel Park, Pa.) with guide Hailey Poe, 33:17
Female winner: Brittney Wheeler (Southbury, Ct.) with guide Marley Andelman, 1:02:34

Age Group 7-10 — Complete Results

Age 7

Male winner: Noah McKillop (Elmhurst, Ill.), 22:36
Female winner: Lila Knutson (Sioux Falls, S.D.), 23:02

Age 8

Male winner: John Wambu (Addison, Texas), 20:06
Female winner: Taylor Huttmann (Cranberry Township, Pa.), 21:06

Age 9
Male winner: Joseph McKillop (Elmhurst, Ill.), 18:52
Female winner: Ellie Harlow (Glen Allen, Va.), 20:10

Age 10
Male winner: Miles Harbert (Ankeny, Iowa), 17:04
Female winner: Louise Delgado (Marietta, Ga.), 18:42

Age Group 11-15 — Complete Results

Age 11
Male winner: Tavish Quinn (Spring, Texas), 31:40
Female winner: Andrea Rogerson (Maidens, Va.), 32:29

Age 12
Male winner: Santiago Fernandez (The Woodlands, Texas), 29:35
Female winner: MJ Novelli (Roanoke, Texas), 31:46

Age 13
Male winner: Noah Billings (Rochester, Minn.), 30:03
Female winner: McKenna Mazeski (Aurora, Colo.), 30:38

Age 14
Male winner: Reese Vannerson (Sugar Land, Texas), 27:55
Female winner: Sydney Drevlow (Golden Valley, Minn.), 31:41

Age 15

Male winner: Mateo Luna (Largo, Fla.), 29:27
Female winner: Sydney Fiore (Hyattsville, Md.), 32:35

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 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — 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 & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).