Standout Young Triathletes Set to Compete for National Titles this Weekend in West Chester

By USA Triathlon | July 26, 2016, 4:15 p.m. (ET)


taylor knibb

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — For the fifth straight year, nearly 900 young triathletes ages 7-19 will return to West Chester, Ohio, and Voice of America Park this Saturday and Sunday for the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships.

Swim, bike, run action begins on Saturday, July 30, at 8 a.m. ET with the draft-legal championship races for junior elite (ages 16-19) and youth elite (ages 13-15). Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), the 2015 ITU Junior World Championships silver medalist and defending women’s Junior Elite National Champion, and Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), the defending men’s Junior Elite National Champion, highlight the nine Youth and Junior Elite Nationals medalists from 2015 who will compete this weekend in search of more hardware.

Competing on a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run course, the returning medalists include Page Lester (Washington, D.C.), 2015 Junior Elite Nationals bronze medalist; Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) and Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.), who finished second and third last year behind Rider; and Youth Elite National Champion Kira Stanley (Acworth, Ga.) and Youth Elite Nationals silver medalist Thomas Oates (Chelsea, Mich.), who both aged up to the junior elite level this year.

Youth Elite Nationals will cover a 375m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run course, and last year’s champion Zach Wilson (Carmel, Ind.) looks to repeat his winning performance. Both Junior Elite and Youth Elite Nationals races feature the draft-legal format contested in the Olympic Games next month, and athletes competing for national titles in those races on Saturday may one day represent the U.S. at the Games, following in the footsteps of former Junior Elite National Champions and 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team members Greg Billington and Ben Kanute.

Nearly all of last year’s 18 age-group champions are also on the start list for West Chester this weekend, with most set to compete on Sunday, July 31, beginning at 10:40 a.m. ET. Julen Lujambio (Wallingford, Conn.), who won the boys 14-year-old division last year, will compete in the boys Youth Elite Nationals on Saturday, while 14 athletes hope to win national titles in their respective age groups again this year: Hazel Wells (9, Richmond, Va.), Xavier Garriques (9, Lake Forest, Ill.), Clara James-Heer (10, Coopersville, Mich.), Jack Diemar (10, Eagle, Colo.), Ava Birchmier (11, Ankeny, Iowa), Braxton Legg (11, Tampa, Fla.), Courtney Diemar (12, Eagle, Colo.), Lawson McLeod (12, Port St. Lucie, Fla.), Cassidy Hickey (13, Parker, Colo.), Nicolas Raffinengo (13, Boynton Beach, Fla.), Heather Welsch (14, Alvin, Texas) and McKenzie Hogue (15, Alabaster, Ala.). Garriques, James-Heer, J. Diemar, McLeod, Hickey and Raffinengo also won their age groups in 2014.

The competitive distances for Youth Nationals competitors are age-based and range from a 100m swim, 5k bike and a 1k run for ages 7-10 to a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run for athletes ages 11-15.

In addition to the in the individual events, many of the athletes ages 13-19 will also form the 55 relay teams expected in the Mixed Team Relay event at 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 31. The draft-legal team relay features four competitors (two male, two female) per team, each of whom will complete a 250m swim, a 5k bike and a 1.2k run.

Visit usatriathlon.org/usatjr16 for more information on USA Triathlon Youth & Junior Nationals.

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 nearly 500,000 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).