Sophie Chase, Will Huffman Earn Top-Five Finishes at Pan American Games

By USA Triathlon | July 27, 2019, 6:57 p.m. (ET)

LIMA, Peru — Sophie Chase (Burke, Va.) led the U.S. women’s contingent with a fourth-place finish at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, on Saturday, while William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) finished top-five for the men. 

The course in Lima featured a 1,500-meter ocean swim off the beach of Agua Dulce, a 40-kilometer bike around the Costa Verde Beach Circuit, and a 10-kilometer run finishing at the Lima Marina Club.

In the women’s race, Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes had a commanding lead after the swim. She started the bike on her own, with more than a minute on the rest of the field. 

Avery Evenson (Brighton, Mich.), Brazil’s Luisa Baptista and Chase were the next three out of the water. They joined Barbara Riveros of Chile, Cecilia Perez and Claudia Rivas of Mexico, and several other strong cyclists to form a nine-woman pack, all working to chase down Lopes.

Lopes, however, did not give up much time on the bike — and as she hit the second transition, she still had 50 seconds on the chasers. It would take an impressive run to steal the win, and that would come from fellow Brazilian Baptista. With a race-leading 34-minute, 58-second 10k, Baptista passed her teammate to claim the gold medal in 2:00:55. Lopes was not far behind for silver in 2:01:27, and Mexico’s Perez rounded out the podium in 2:02:07.

A strong 36:30 run split from Chase put her in the mix for the podium, but she ultimately finished just outside the medals in 2:02:28. Evenson was the next American across the line in 14th (2:08:20), followed by Mary Alex England (Raleigh, N.C.) in 16th (2:10:12).

“It’s been such an honor and a huge blessing to be able to represent Team USA down here at the Pan American Games,” Chase said. “Overall, I think Team USA had a really solid showing. I definitely needed one more lap on the run to chip away at third, but I’m very grateful for a solid result. I felt I executed my bike particularly well today, and I saw a lot of growth in other areas that I’ve been working on. I’m very grateful also to be able to compete against such strong women that are here representing their countries as well.”

In the men’s race, Huffman was first out of the water with a 17:39 split — but a large group was right on his heels. Soon, 25 men were riding together at the front of the field, including fellow Americans Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.) and Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), defending Pan American champion Crisanto Grajales of Mexico, Irving Perez of Mexico, Manoel Messias of Brazil and Felipe Barraza of Chile. 

As they hit the second transition in a pack, it became clear that the podiums would come down to the run. Luciano Franco Taccone of Argentina was the first onto the run course, followed closely by Messias and Huffman. 

Halfway through the 10k, a group of 11 men were running together as they waited for someone to make a move. On the final lap, Grajales and Messias broke away off the front, while a battle for bronze played out behind them.

Grajales eventually got some distance from the Brazilian, successfully defending his title with a time of 1:50:39. Messias crossed the line 16 seconds later for silver in 1:50:55, and Taccone grabbed bronze in 1:51:03. Perez took fourth in 1:51:06, and Huffman ran his way to a top-five finish in 1:51:09.

Hindman went on to finish 12th in 1:52:03, while West took 15th in 1:53:19.

“I’ve been racing around the world and wearing the stars and stripes for almost 10 years now,” Huffman said. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of places and meet a lot of athletes from all over, and this is just unique. It’s everything I imagined a major Games to be, and more — so to be here with the rest of the Team USA athletes for triathlon and for all the other sports is just incredible, and I’m really grateful to have the opportunity.” 

The action continues Monday at 10 a.m. ET (9 a.m. local time), as the U.S. team contends for a medal in the Mixed Relay — a first-time medal event at the Pan American Games. In the fast-paced, spectator-friendly discipline, four athletes (two men, two women) each complete a super-sprint-distance triathlon before tagging off to the next teammate. 

The athletes who will comprise the U.S. Mixed Relay team will be determined at least two hours prior to race start on Monday. The U.S. is seeded No. 1 on the start list, as U.S. teams have reached the podium twice this season in the ITU World Mixed Relay Series. A total of 10 nations will field teams in the Mixed Relay event.

Held every four years in the year before the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games are the third-largest international multi-sport Games after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games. The history of the Pan American Games dates back to 1951, when the Games were first hosted by Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 2019 Pan American Games mark the 18th celebration of the Pan American Sports Organization event. The U.S. has hosted the event twice, in Indianapolis in 1987 and Chicago in 1959.

Visit lima2019.pe/en and download the official Lima 2019 Media Guide for more information about the Pan American Games Lima 2019. Media covering the Pan American Games onsite or remotely may create an account at newsservices.lima2019.pe for access to sport previews, results and photos for editorial use.

2019 Pan American Games — Complete Results
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run

Elite Women 
1. Luisa Baptista (BRA), 2:00:55
2. Vittoria Lopes (BRA), 2:01:27
3. Cecilia Gabriel Perez Flores (MEX), 2:02:07

U.S. Finishers
4. Sophie Chase (Burke, Va.), 2:02:28
14. Avery Evenson (Brighton, Mich.), 2:08:20
16. Mary Alex England (Raleigh, N.C.), 2:10:12

Elite Men 
1. Crisanto Grajales Valencia (MEX), 1:50:39
2. Manoel Messias (BRA), 1:50:55
3. Luciano Franco Taccone (ARG), 1:51:03

U.S. Finishers
5. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 1:51:09
12. Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.), 1:52:03
15. Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), 1:53:19

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).