Luke Farkas and Breanna Hemming won USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championship titles on Saturday at Voice of America Park while Stephanie Jenks won the youth elite women’s race, and Darr Smith won the youth elite men’s race.
Nearly 300 athletes participated in Saturday’s Youth Elite and Junior Elite races. Over 400 age group athletes ranging in age from 7-15 will race at the USA Triathlon Youth National Championship on Sunday.
The 16- to 19-year-old Junior Elites covered a 750-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bike and a 5-kilometer run while the 13-15-year-old Youth Elites did a 375m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run.
Farkas’ solo breakaway on the bike helped him hold off a strong field in the men’s Junior Elite race. Farkas, who is training in Colorado Springs, Colo., as part of the Elite Triathlon Academy, won in 57 minutes, 28 seconds, followed by 2011 ITU Junior World Championships bronze medalist Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.) in 57:35. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) finished third in 57:51.
“I found myself with a 15-second gap coming out of the water, and I knew there were fast runners back there who had a shot to beat me, so I knew I needed time,” Farkas said. “I pushed it on the bike as hard as I could and tried to keep it on the run and was able to hold off magnificent runners like Tony [Smoragiewicz].”
Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), who will continue her triathlon career in college by joining the Elite Triathlon Academy, surged away from 2011 Youth Elite National Champion Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.) and Johanna Gartman on the final lap of the run to win the junior elite women’s race in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 14 seconds. Gorman finished in 1:04:23 and Gartman in 1:04:40.
“It’s a great honor to win the national title,” Hemming said. “We have some great girls racing in the country right now. It’s a strong field — it has been all four years that I’ve been here — and it feels great to get a win.”
With their wins, Farkas and Hemming earned spots on the U.S. team for the 2012 ITU Junior World Triathlon Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, in October.
In the Youth Elite women’s race, Jenks (Aurora, Iowa) posted a time of 33:03 to beat Victoria Clinton (Elburn, Ill.), who finished second in 33:31 and her younger sister, Jennifer Jenks, who finished third in 33:50.
“My sister and I train together and push each other,” Jenks said. “We cooperate really well, and it’s great to have her in the races.”
In the Youth Elite men’s race, Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) had some ground to make up after being down and the swim and nearly getting dropped on the bike. He held off Patrick Bieszke (Orland Park, Ill.), who finished two seconds behind in 31:45 and Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.), who posted a time of 31:59.
“I was very worried [about Patrick Bieszke catching him at the end],” Smith said. “I turned around and looked a few times. I didn’t have anything left in me so I just gave it my all.”
2012 USA Triathlon Junior and Youth National Championship
Junior Elites: 750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Youth Elites: 375m swim, 10k bike, 2.5k run
Junior Elite Women
1. Breanna Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 1:04:14
2. Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), 1:04:23
3. Johanna Gartman (Chattanooga, Tenn.), 1:04:30
Junior Elite Men
1. Luke Farkas (Colorado Springs, Colo), 57:28
2. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 57:35
3. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas ), 57:51
Youth Elite Women
1. Stephanie Jenks (Aurora, Iowa), 33:03
2. Victoria Clinton (Elburn, Ill.), 33:31
3. Jennifer Jenks (Aurora, Iowa), 33:50
Youth Elite Men
1. Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), 31:43
2. Patrick Bieszke (Orland Park, Ill.), 31:45
3. Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.), 31:59