Claims Spot for World Championships
Steve Kelley – USA Triathlon
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July 19, 2009 (Oxnard, CA) – Reigning USA Triathlon Collegiate National Champion Jessica Broderick won her first USAT Junior Elite Cup at the Strawberry Fields Triathlon to earn a place at the ITU Junior Elite World Championship set for September on the Gold Coast of Australia.
Joining Broderick on top of the podium and on the world’s team was Kevin McDowell, 17, of Geneva, Ill.
Broderick, a Middlebury, Conn., native and University of Colorado-Boulder student, topped a talented field of top-ranked 16 to 19 year old females at Strawberry Fields. The 19-year-old led the pack of racers through the swim and bike but was able to break away on the first lap of the run to clinch her first world’s start.
McDowell, a member of the powerhouse Multisport Madness Triathlon Team, engineered an early breakaway with teammate Ben Kanute. The two have used this tactic effectively in the past, so it was no surprise when they rolled into transition together. They left T2 stride-for-stride holding a 90-second gap over a pack of challengers. McDowell proved quicker on the day, however, running away from Kanute.
With the wins, Broderick and McDowell join rookie juniors Lukas Verzbicas (16, New Lenox, Ill.) and Jennifer Howland (16, Elburn, Ill.), who were the first to stamp their Aussie ticket with strong performances at the Pan American (PATCO) Championships in May. Verzbicas was the overall champion in the junior men’s field, while Jennifer was the top U.S. finisher in fifth place overall.
The six-member team was rounded out by the next best finish position at the Strawberry Fields race. With his solid second place finish, Ben Kanute earned this final team slot for the men, giving the Multisport Madness team all three junior men’s spots. On the junior women’s side, it came down to a three-person race between Marissa Ferrante, Tanelle Berard and Alexandra Weber. All three exited T2 together, and they were all in close proximity after the first of two run laps. In the end, Ferrante edged Berard by six seconds for third place and the final Worlds spot. Only 22 seconds separated third and fifth position.
The USAT Strawberry Fields Junior Elite Cup brought together one of the strongest fields outside of the national championships. More than 100 athletes representing 15 junior teams came from across the country to test themselves in the Olympic-format of triathlon on the 750-meter swim, 20k draft-legal bike, 5k run course. The draft-legal format allows these young athletes to practice the skills they’ll need to be successful when racing internationally and to determine if they have the potential to maybe make an Olympic Team one day.
“The organizers of the Strawberry Fields Triathlon pulled out all the stops to make this event a success,” said Steve Kelley, USAT athlete development coordinator. “Their attention to detail allowed us to seamlessly integrate a draft-legal junior competition into their age-group triathlon festival and showcase the next generation of American triathlon talent. It was one of the most competitive races we’ve experienced on U.S. soil to date.”
Earlier in the day, the top 13 to 15 year old athletes in the U.S. toed the line for a draft-legal race of half the distance completed by the Junior Elites. Another Kanute, Ben’s younger brother, Josh, would dominate among the youth elite men, while rising California star, Hannah Rae Finchamp, claimed the youth elite women’s division.
“I was fortunate enough to have a completely smooth race this weekend and that’s pretty much what you need. There is no room for error in these short and fast youth elite races,” Finchamp said.
U.S. athletes will have another chance to test themselves in this format at the USAT National Junior Olympic Festival in Colorado Springs, Colo., on August 8.