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Kelly Whitley was named USA Triathlon Junior Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.
photo: ©2011 Rich Cruse | richcruse.com

National Champions Verzbicas, Whitley Claim 2011 USA Triathlon Junior Honors

Edwards, Resh named Junior Duathletes of the Year

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon Junior Elite national champions Lukas Verzbicas and Kelly Whitley have been honored for their remarkable 2011 seasons with USA Triathlon Junior Triathlete of the Year honors.

USA Triathlon will announce its Elite Athletes of the Year later this week.

Verzbicas (Colorado Springs, Colo.) made national headlines in September 2011 when he captured gold at the ITU Junior World Championships to honor friend and teammate Kevin McDowell, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March 2011. Prior to winning the world title, Verzbicas was victorious at the USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championship and the PATCO Junior Pan American Championships last year.

Whitley (Geneva, Ill.) claims her second straight Junior Triathlete of the Year honor after finishing fifth at ITU Junior Worlds and winning the USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championship for her first career national title. She also made her elite debut and recorded three top-seven finishes in ITU Pan American Cups.

Verzbicas and Whitley currently train in Colorado Springs, Colo., as members of the Elite Triathlon Academy.

“Lukas’ and Kelly’s performances in 2011 put a spotlight on the rising tide of junior triathlon in the United States. It is not possible to race for the podium on the international stage if you aren’t tested by your peers at home,” said USA Triathlon Athlete Development Coordinator Steve Kelly. “The growing ranks of highly committed junior athletes ensures that the few who are fortunate enough to earn a spot to compete for a world title are race ready. And the presence of world-class juniors in our domestic events raises the bar for everyone else.”   

Additionally, Tom Edwards (Kennett Square, Pa.) and Holly Resh (Redlands, Calif.) were selected as 2011 Junior Duathletes of the Year by the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee and Duathlon Committee. Edwards won his age group and posted top-seven overall finishes at the Washington Crossing Sprint Duathlon and the LCCM Duathlon. Resh won her age group and placed fourth overall at the Camarillo Sprint Duathlon and was 15th among junior women at the 2011 ITU Duathlon World Championships in Gijon, Spain.

Verzbicas and Whitley also headline USA Triathlon’s list of Junior Elite and Youth Elite All-Americans. This honor goes to the top up-and-coming triathletes in the United States and is based on their final national ranking and performances in top junior and youth draft-legal events.

2011 USA Triathlon Junior Triathletes of the Year
Lukas Verzbicas (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Kelly Whitley (Geneva, Ill.)

2011 USA Triathlon Male Junior Duathlete of the Year
Tom Edwards (Kennett Square, Pa.)
(HM) Victor Jivanescu (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

2011 USA Triathlon Female Junior Duathlete of the Year
Holly Resh (Redlands, Calif.)
(HM) Rachel Phillips (West Point, N.Y.)

2011 USA Triathlon Male Junior Elite All-Americans (ages 16-19)
Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.)
Lukas Verzbicas (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
(HM) Luke Farkas (Franklin, Tenn.)
(HM) Hunter Honeycutt (Tifton, Ga.)
(HM) Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.)

2011 USA Triathlon Female Junior Elite All-Americans (ages 16-19)
Breanna Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.)
Jennifer Howland (Elburn, Ill.)
Kelly Whitley (Geneva, Ill.)
(HM) Tanelle Berard (Clive, Iowa)
(HM) Johanna Gartman (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

2011 USA Triathlon Male Youth Elite All-Americans (ages 13-15)
Matthew Stanley (Acworth, Ga.)
Sawyer Willingham (Simpsonville, S.C.)
(HM) Tristan Bunch (Murrieta, Calif.)
(HM) Neilson Powless (Roseville, Calif.)
(HM) Sammy Ritz (Meadowbrook, Pa.)

2011 USA Triathlon Female Youth Elite All-Americans (ages 13-15)
Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.)
Stephanie Jenks (Aurora, Iowa)
Rachel Mann (Homer Glen, Ill.)
(HM) Gina Johnson (Park Ridge, Ill.)

HM – honorable mention

About USA Triathlon
Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon – one of the fastest growing sports in the world – as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. USA Triathlon sanctions 4,000 races and connects with more than 150,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including ITU World Championships, Pan American Games and the Summer Olympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the International Triathlon Union and the United States Olympic Committee.

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