Local Sports

Youth Triathlon rolls on

AVON PARK - - With Highlands County’s pee-wee talent dominating Avon Park on Saturday, only one more race remains to settle who is the Rock’n Heartland Youth Triathlon Series champion. South Florida State College served as a beautiful backdrop for the second race of the 2013 series and the fourth race of the RHTYS franchise, presented by Thakkar Family Foundation, which benefits Julie’s Funds for Kids, a non-for-profit corporation that promotes and subsidizes youthful participation in active lifestyles and activities. Qualifying families can apply to have some (not all) of the registration costs for various sports paid by a Julie’s Funds scholarship. “What a great venue South Florida State College is for triathlon,” said Race Director Daniel Andrews. “We had excellent support from the administration, maintenance and campus security, who helped us ensure everybody had a safe race and lots of fun.” Rock’n Heartland is a triathlon race series for triathletes from ages 5 to 15, half of whom tend to be local racers. This “City of Charm” race drew 60 registered participants to the beautiful college campus including several tri teams such as Tampa Bay Heat, Team JETS and Highlands County’s own Team TriPOWER.
“They are the best run youth races in the state of Florida,” said Jody Diemar, Team JETS coach, on the team’s Facebook page, encouraging members to check out the series. “We have done a couple and I cannot make one complaint. Safe courses, quick and accurate results, neutral transitions, professional bike racks for every size bike and amazing volunteers. The ‘TriPOWER Triathlon Club’ are great hosts and we look forward to many more races in the future!” RHYTS races have three main categories: Junior, Intermediate and Seniors plus they allow “beginners” to race, which allows for younger children and even training wheels. The top four spots in the Junior Division was swept by local triathletes Bud Cox (15m38s), Reeve Moulds (16m53s), Kinsley White (17m01s) and Luke Swaine (17m12s). Hayley Diemar and Jacob Gale, both of Jupiter, took first and second in the Intermediate Division, posting blistering-fast times of 24m49s and 25m35s, respectively. Palm Beach Gardens’ Bianca Papa was a close third with her 25m52s. Luis Ortiz returned from Orlando to put his mark on RHYTS yet again, posting a time of 33m48s and fending off any challengers in the Senior Division with plenty of time between himself and second place: Chandler Rhodes at 35m58s. Sebring’s Trevor Doty was strong but not strong enough. He completed the 150 meter swim, six mile bike and 1.5 mile run in 37m29s. Seniors are 12 to 15 years of age, Intermediates (9-11) swim 100 meter, bike four miles and run one mile. Juniors (6-8) have a 50 meter swim, two mile bike and half mile run. The series finale occurs June 15 in Sebring, where well-established Heartland Triathlon has partnered with allow RHYTS to use their existing Kids Tri as points race and platform for RHYTS’ series awards ceremony. “Our partnership with Rock’n Heartland is about our local youth,” said Heartland Triathlon Race Director Cherie Starr. “Look how much our community has changed thanks to triathlon. These events are an awesome way to grow the fitness lifestyle in Highlands County.”