Youth and Junior National Championships USA Triathlon sees over 700 athletes
Nathalie Schickendantz | Staff Writer
Nation-wide athletes — some starting at the age of seven — competed for a national title in the USA Triathlon.
From August 5-6, West Chester hosted the Youth and Junior National Championships USA Triathlon. From over 36 states, more than 700 athletes competed in the championship at Voice of America Park. The age category ranges from seven to 19-year-olds.
Many athletes said they began at a young age and continued to return each year in hopes of earning an honorable title. 19-year-old Alexandra Lorenz from Illinois said she finished her seventh triathlon in Voice of America; Lorenz said she enjoys the challenge that comes with every race and is content with her final year competing at the USA Triathlon.
“The course is really open — they use a lot of space — and they close down all the roads which is awesome,” Lorenz said. “Then I’d say the run is pretty straight forward, you’ve just got those two hills in the back which definitely put the hurt on for a little bit, but I love this course. They do a great job running it.”
Many athletes said they prepared physically in order to compete at a high level, but that a positive mentality is what really helped them. 19-year-old Michael Libin from Iowa said he completed his fifth race on this course, and that training only helped him get ready for competing, while remaining focused helped him finish the race.
“All summer I pretty much bike, run and swim everyday — at least two to three workouts twice a day since May — and in an average week like 15 hours maybe 20 max,” Libin said. “Going into it I try to stay calm, like ‘Ok this won’t hurt that much’ and then during the race I’m pretty much like screaming at myself ‘Just go, just go, catch that guy, ignore that pain.’”
At times, racing can get stressful. 13-year-old Sam Tullis from Indiana said he ran into trouble on the course, but that the best way to handle a difficult situation is not to panic and keep moving.
“Today my shoe fell off while I was racing, so I was in the lead pack and had to turn to grab my shoe,” Tullis said. “The main thing is trying to keep your composure, but also know that you can always improve your position. So during the bike, even though I was not where I wanted to be, I clicked my gears and started going. I broke away, and I started catching the next person.”
Tullis said he loves competing and continues to exert positive energy after crossing the finish line because the triathlon community is welcoming.
“It’s such a good relief; I love the feeling of going to see my friends,” Tullis said. “ During the race it’s all go, go, go, but afterwards it’s enjoyment and hanging out with friends, high-fives, seeing everybody.”
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Photos by Nathalie Schickendantz.