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Rising star Lukas Verzbicas was named 2012 USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year. (Janos Schmidt/ITU)
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USA Triathlon Names 2012 Elite Athletes of the Year

Top U.S. triathletes honored by the sport’s National Governing Body

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — With U.S. Olympian Sarah Groff and elite national champion Jarrod Shoemaker headlining the honorees, USA Triathlon today announced its 2012 Elite Athletes of the Year.

Eligible athletes were nominated by their fellow elite competitors with the award selections being made by the USA Triathlon Athlete Advisory Council (AAC).

“2012 was truly a remarkable year in triathlon. With outstanding performances across all distances, picking the winners from our incredible list of nominees was a difficult task,” said Barrett Brandon, chair of the USA Triathlon Athlete Advisory Council. “The AAC carefully examined the résumés and results and is proud to honor these exceptional athletes. The AAC congratulates all the 2012 winners.”

Groff (Hanover, N.H.) is a repeat winner in the Olympic/ITU Athlete of the Year category after posting a fourth-place showing at the 2012 Olympic Games and a seventh-place finish in the final International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Series rankings. She recorded four top-10 finishes on the ITU World Triathlon Series circuit last season and placed third in Hamburg, Germany, on July 21 to become the first American with multiple career WTS podium finishes.

Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.) claims the men’s Olympic/ITU Athlete of the Year honor for the first time since 2009 and second overall. The top-ranked U.S. male in the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series rankings, Shoemaker raced to his second career USA Triathlon Elite National Championships title in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sept. 15. He was third at the sprint-distance Edmonton ITU World Cup on July 8 and finished 10th at the April 14 ITU World Triathlon Sydney.

Ultra-distance standout Mary Beth Ellis (Boulder, Colo.) and non-drafting, Olympic-distance specialist Cameron Dye (Boulder, Colo.) claimed the Non-Olympic/ITU Athletes of the Year honors. Ellis is a repeat winner after finishing fifth overall to rank as the top American at the 2012 Ironman World Championship and earning victories at Ironman New York and Ironman Cozumel.

Dye’s remarkable 2012 season included six race victories, as well as the men’s overall series title for the Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series Race to the Toyota Cup.

Rookie of the Year honors went to rising stars Anna Battiata (Mechanicsville, Va.) and Lukas Verzbicas (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Battiata placed third at USA Triathlon Elite Nationals and recorded a runner-up finish at the 2012 Kelowna ITU Pan American Cup. She also placed fifth at the New York City Triathlon.

At 19 years old, Verzbicas became the youngest U.S. athlete to record an ITU World Cup victory with his win in Banyoles, Spain, on June 17 in his World Cup debut. He also claimed his first career elite victory June 2 at the Dallas ITU Pan American Cup and finished the year as the No. 5 American in the ITU World Triathlon Series rankings.

In the Under-23 Athlete of the Year category, Kaitlin (Shiver) Donner (Gainesville, Fla.) and Greg Billington (Colorado Springs, Colo.) were repeat winners. Donner won her second straight U.S. under-23 title at Elite Nationals, earned her first career ITU World Cup podium finish Oct. 7 with a runner-up finish in Cancun and was fourth at the FISU World University Championships.

Billington finished second overall at Elite Nationals to claim his second straight under-23 national title before placing eighth at the ITU Under-23 World Championships. He placed 15th in his ITU World Triathlon Series debut in San Diego and recorded six top-10 finishes on the ITU circuit.

2012 USA Triathlon Elite Athletes of the Year

Olympic/ITU Athletes of the Year

Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.)
Jarrod Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.)

Non-Olympic/ITU Athletes of the Year
Mary Beth Ellis (Boulder, Colo.)
Cameron Dye (Boulder, Colo.)

Rookies of the Year
Anna Battiata (Mechanicsville, Va.)
Lukas Verzbicas (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Under-23 Athletes of the Year
Kaitlin (Shiver) Donner (Gainesville, Fla.)
Greg Billington (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

About USA Triathlon
Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon – the fastest growing sport in the U.S. Olympic Movement – as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with more than 500,000 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 International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Summer Olympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

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