Standout junior triathletes Jennifer Howland and Lukas Verzbicas took top honors Saturday at the USA Triathlon Flatland Junior Elite Cup, and became eligible to represent the United States on Sept. 12 at the 2010 ITU Junior Triathlon World Championship in Budapest, Hungary.
Howland (Elburn, Ill.) and the junior elite women led off the first of five races at the Flatland Kids Triathlon Festival. Howland and Tanelle Berard (Clive, Iowa) raced side-by-side through the 750-meter swim and six-lap, 20-kilometer bike. Howland managed to open up a 15 second lead on the run to claim first in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 7 seconds.
On the junior elite men’s side, Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.) made a solo swim-bike breakaway attempt over a chase pack of six. However, it was Verzbicas (Orland Hill, Ill.), the reigning junior duathlon world champion, who took control of the race on first of two laps of the run and crossed the finish line in 55:14. Chris Wiatr (Long Grove, Ill.) enjoyed a breakthrough performance to edge Kanute for second place.
The day also featured competition in the 13-to-15-year-old Youth Elite Division. Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.) was the girls’ champion, besting Rachel Mann (Homer Glen, Ill.). Spencer Clark (Clive, Iowa) took top honors in the Youth Elite boys’ race over Carter Dickson (Aurora, Ill.).
Following the draft-legal elite races approximately 175 youth triathletes between the ages of six to 15 took to the course.
Bank Iowa sponsored travel scholarships for being first out the water in the youth and junior elite races in honor of Chandy Barr Clanton, a standout swimmer, triathlete and famed air show pilot from Iowa who tragically lost her life in an accident one year prior to the day of the Flatland Kids Tri Festival. Winners of the “Spirit of Chandy” prize were Kanute, Berard, Gorman and Clark.
The event, originally slated to take place at Gray’s Lake Park in Des Moines was relocated to West Des Moines on Wednesday because of severe flooding around Gray’s Lake.