Erica Hawley followed up her podium finish in last weekend’s Central American and Caribbean Junior Elite Triathlon Championships with perhaps an even more impressive 4th place finish today ( Saturday 11th March) in the North American Junior Elite Triathlon Championships.
Against a field that included three of the top junior triathlon nations in USA, Canada and Mexico, Erica executed a near perfect race and only missed out on a podium finish in a sprint with Canadian Kyla Roy and was given the same time as Roy ( 59:29). Erica was also only 20 seconds behind the eventual winner, Hye Jeong of Korea, her training partner in Boulder ,Colorado where she is attending university.
Erica emerged from the 750 meter swim with the lead group in a quick 10 min 38 secs and established herself in the lead group of cyclists over the 20km bike which she completed in 29 min 14 secs to exit transition with the leaders. She then showed just how much her run has improved as she recorded an impressive time of 18:46 for the 5km run to Jeong’s 18 min 20 secs.2nd place went to Hannah Henry, also from Canada, in 59:13.
Hye Rim Jeong was the bronze medallist at the 2016 Junior Elite World Championships and Henry finished 12th so this must count as a real breakthrough race for Erica ahead of the Junior World Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands later in the year. Both Tyler Butterfield (3rd) and Flora Duffy (2nd) have medaled for Bermuda in previous junior elite world championships and Erica will now know that she is capable of emulating their achievement.
Tyler Smith was left ruing what might have been in the Junior Mens North American Championships after a poor swim by his standards (10:27) that left him trailing the leaders by almost a minute. He then found himself in the 4th group of cyclists with alot to do going into the run after a 28:07 bike. However, what was encouraging was that Tyler made a big breakthrough on the run recording one of the fastest 5km of the day ( 16:40) to move into 9th in 56 min 11 secs.
By all accounts Tyler has been holding his own in swim training sessions back in Leeds, where he attends university, with some of the top triathletes in the world, so he will no doubt be particularly disappointed not to have got out of the water with the leaders and given himself a realistic chance of a podium finish. Nevertheless 9th at the North American Champs is still an outstanding performance.
The race was won by the USA’s Darr Smith in 53:28.
For Lyndsey Palmer, competing for the first time in the 16-19 age group it was understandably a big challenge but she rose to it well to come home in 51st place (out of 58) in 1 hr 09 min 11 secs, a very promising time for an initial outing in this older age group. Her splits were 12:05 swim, 34:59 bike and 21.13 run ; another outstanding junior in the making.
Of interest is that the coach of Roy and Henry is Kelly Guest of Victoria BC who has played a big part in both Tyler and Erica’s development and continues to assist with Tyler’s coaching. Guest, who has already conducted junior triathlon camps in Bermuda, will be bringing some of his talented juniors to Bermuda in April for the Continental Cup and will also be conducting a junior camp as part of the Digicel TriFest.
For full results from today’s races go to http://www.sarasotatri.com and click on the RESULTS tab.