Young USA Triathlon Stars Named Under-23 and Junior Elite Triathletes of the Year

By USA Triathlon | March 08, 2019, 12:47 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Four of USA Triathlon’s most talented young athletes were recognized today for their outstanding performances during the 2018 season. Taylor Knibb and Seth Rider were named Under-23 Triathletes of the Year, and Gillian Cridge and Fielding Fischer earned Junior Elite Triathlete of the Year honors. The selections were made by the USA Triathlon Athlete Advisory Council.

Knibb (Washington, D.C.) earned women’s U-23 Triathlete of the Year after a strong season of racing on the elite International Triathlon Union (ITU) circuit, highlighted by a victory at the ITU Under-23 World Championships. After two top-20 finishes in ITU World Triathlon Series events in Hamburg, Germany, and Edmonton, Alberta, in July, Knibb snagged her first podium of 2018 with a silver at the Lausanne ITU Triathlon World Cup in August. She went on to place ninth at ITU World Triathlon Montreal the following weekend. 

Her standout performance of the year, however, was at the U-23 World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, in September. Knibb broke away from the field on the bike, finishing the 40-kilometer course more than two minutes faster than anyone else in the race. She held onto the lead on the run, breaking the tape more than 90 seconds ahead of runner-up Cassandre Beaugrand of France. With the win, Knibb joined fellow American Tamara Gorman and Germany’s Laura Lindemann as the only women in ITU history to win world titles at both the junior and U-23 levels. 

“I’m extremely grateful for all of the opportunities and support I have from my family, coaches, friends, teammates and USA Triathlon,” Knibb said. “In particular, I need to thank my coach, Neal Henderson, for going above and beyond on a daily basis to help me become a better person and athlete. I’m also grateful for the experiences and lessons triathlon affords me on a day-to-day basis. It has taught me so much about myself and has helped me become a better person in so many ways.”

Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) started his season by earning a pair of bronze medals at the Clermont CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup and the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI North American Championships. He went on to race on the ITU World Cup circuit, recording two top-10 finishes in Chengdu, China, and Antwerp, Belgium. Rider also showed his prowess in the super-sprint mixed relay format, teaming up with Taylor Spivey, Kirsten Kasper and Matt McElroy to claim silver for Team USA at the ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series stop in Edmonton.

“I worked very hard before and during the 2018 season. For that work to pay off and to be honored as the U-23 athlete of the year is an amazing feeling,” Rider said. “I love the places that triathlon takes me and the people I meet along the way. But most of all, I love the feeling of spending months training as hard as my body will allow me to and then racing and having all the hard work pay off.”

Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.) was dubbed women’s Junior Elite Triathlete of the Year after a breakout season that saw her win the USA Triathlon High School National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and the USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championships in West Chester, Ohio. Cridge was also victorious at the Richmond and Flatlands Junior Elite Cups. She earned silver medals in the junior division of two international events, the Sarasota CAMTRI Junior North American Championships and the Brasilia CAMTRI Junior American Championships. She went on to represent the U.S. at the ITU Junior World Championships in Gold Coast in September, placing 29th.

“I am truly humbled to win this award,” Cridge said. “I would not have been able to have such a successful 2018 season without the support and encouragement from my family and friends, my coach Ian O’Brien, Cathedral High School, and USA Triathlon.”

Fischer (Chevy Chase, Md.) broke the tape in the men’s race at Junior Elite Nationals, crossing the line with a 20-second margin on runner-up Luis Ortiz. He also reached the podium at the Pleasant Prairie Junior Elite Cup with a second-place showing and took sixth at the Flatlands Junior Elite Cup. At the ITU Junior World Championships, Fischer led all U.S. men with a 14th-place finish. 

“I am thankful to have the opportunity to be awarded for something that I enjoy so much,” Fischer said. “I also feel extremely blessed to have people in my life who have supported me through highs and lows, and ultimately been crucial in helping me reach this point in my life. I am determined to use this recognition as fuel for future success.”

Cridge also headlines the 2018 USA Triathlon Women’s Junior Elite All-Americans list, while Fischer is ranked third among the 2018 Junior Elite All-American men. All-American honors are based on the final national ranking and season-long performances of athletes ages 16-19 in top junior and draft-legal events. 

2018 U23 Triathletes of the Year
Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.)
Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.)

2018 Junior Elite Triathletes of the Year
Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Tenn.)
Fielding Fischer (Chevy Chase, Md.)

2018 USA Triathlon Junior Elite All-Americans — Women (ages 16-19)
Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Maryhelen “Parker” Albright (Roanoake, Va.)
Paige Horner (Johnston, Iowa)
(HM) Liberty Ricca (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
(HM) Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.)
(HM) Kira Stanley (Acworth, Ga.)

2018 USA Triathlon Junior Elite All-Americans — Men (ages 16-19)
Drew Shellenberger (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Luis Ortiz (Orlando, Fla.)
Fielding Fischer (Chevy Chase, Md.)
(HM) Davis Bove (Franklin, Tenn.)
(HM) Nicholas Holmes (Glendale, Wis.)
(HM) Jack DeWeerdt (Hoffman Estates, Ill.)

2018 USA Triathlon Youth Elite All-Americans — Girls (ages 13-15)
Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.)
Lucy Westlake (Naperville, Ill.)
Hope Frost (Suffolk, Va.)
Faith Dasso (New Braunfels, Texas)
(HM) Jenna Buchanan (Bartlett, Ill.)
(HM) Andrea Ballestero (Clearwater, Fla.)
(HM) Jaci Sievers (Elkhorn, Neb.)

2018 USA Triathlon Youth Elite All-Americans — Boys (ages 13-15)

Andrew Flynn (Wilmette, Ill.)
Jack Larkin (King of Prussia, Pa.)
Lawson McLeod (Lutz, Fla.)
(HM) Ethan Nordman (Hoschton, Ga.)
(HM) Sam Tullis (South Bend, Ind.)
(HM) Steven Cartwright (Jacksonville, Fla.)

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 Committee (USOC).