BURLINGTON, Vt. - Olympic bronze medalist Susan Williams and reigning collegiate national champion Rudy Kahsar outlasted an extremely competitive field to earn the overall titles at the 2011 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship, presented by Subway and People's United Bank, Saturday at Waterfront Park.
The USA Triathlon Sprint National Championship titles went to up-and-coming multisport athletes Abby Levene and Ryan Peterson. In all, nearly 2,500 of the nation's top amateur triathletes were in action in sold-out Olympic-distance and sprint-distance events.
Women's 30-34 age group champion Catherine Sterling (Worcester, Mass.) was second in 2:08:43, while Natalie Kirchhoff (Clermont, Fla.) a member of the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program, grabbed third in 2:08:48 and earned the women's 25-29 crown.
Kahsar (Boulder, Colo.) captured his second national title of 2011 after grabbing the lead on the bike and not relinquishing it thanks to a personal-best 33:28 10k run split. "Today, everything went right. ... I took a long break in the middle of the season and it really paid off," said Kahsar, winner of the 2011 USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship as a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "I really started to ramp up my speed again in the last month and really have just been thinking about this race since May. It's really been my focus race, and it all paid off today."
Fellow men's 20-24 competitors Brian Duffy (West Chester, Pa.), who was the overall men's runner-up in 1:54:09, and Daniel Hedgecock (St. Paul, Minn.), who was third in 1:54:16, rounded out the podium.
After nearly 1,900 athletes completed the Olympic-distance event in the morning, the junior standout Peterson (Richmond, Va.) earned the male sprint title in 1:05:20, nearly two minutes ahead of his closest competitor. "The swim went surprisingly well; the water felt great, the bike course was nice and fast and the run was great," said Peterson, the 2010 USAT Junior Duathlete of the Year. "The first little bit (of the run) is the hardest to get your legs going, but once you get a good pace you can just keep it up for the rest of the way."
Grant Rice (Dover, Mass.) was the overall runner up and was second to Peterson in the 19 and under age group in 1:07:14. Men's 50-54 sprint champion Carlos Dolabella (Key Biscayne, Fla.), a repeat winner from 2010, took third overall in 1:07:43.
Levene (Dublin, N.H.) captured the women's sprint and 20-24 age group titles in 1:11:30. Heather Westerman (Ligonier, Pa.) was the overall runner-up and 35-39 winner in 1:12:38, while Nataliia Kravchuk (Honolulu, Hawaii) captured the 25-29 crown and placed third overall in 1:12:45.
In all, over 50 athletes earned a national title on Saturday, but a number of the competitors walked away impressed by the venue and the vocal crowd support in Burlington. "Here, there's electricity in the air and the feeling of power," said Dean Davis, men's 80-84 champion. "I'll tell you what - it was awesome."
In addition to the bragging rights of claiming an age group national title, Saturday's top finishers also earned coveted spots to represent the U.S. at the 2012 ITU World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand The top 18 finishers (rolling down to 25th place) in each age group in both the Olympic-distance and sprint events in Burlington qualified for a Team USA slot. Team USA is comprised of amateur athletes who represent the U.S. at each ITU World Championship event.
2011 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship, Burlington, Vt.
Age Group National Champions - Click HERE for complete results
Overall Female: Susan Williams (Littleton, Colo.), 2:06:01
Overall Male: Rudy Kahsar (Boulder, Colo.), 1:52:17
Masters Female: Susan Williams (Littleton, Colo.), 2:06:01
Masters Male: Doug Clark (Morristown, N.J.), 1:54:48
Grand Masters Female: Carol Gephart (Strafford, N.H.), 2:18:49
Grand Masters Male: Michael Orendorff (Pueblo, Colo.), 2:15:07
Athena 39 & Under: Erika Binger (Minneapolis, Minn.), 2:29:19
Athena 40+: Margaret O'Toole (Cambridge, Mass.), 2:44:59
Clydesdale 39 & Under: Evan Evans (Palm Coast, Fla.), 2:10:37
Clydesdale 40+: Stephan Corti (Westlake Village, Calif.), 2:20:26
2011 USA Triathlon Sprint National Championship, Burlington, Vt.
Sprint National Champions
Overall Female: Abby Levene (Dublin, N.H.), 1:11:29
Overall Male: Ryan Peterson (Richmond, Va.), 1:05:19
Masters Female: Jen Lemieux (Westfield, Mass.), 1:13:19
Masters Male: Glenn Cook (Greensboro, N.C.), 1:12:18
Grand Masters Female: Betsy Henderson (Roanoke, Va.), 1:21:42
Grand Masters Male: Robert Stipp (Yorba Linda, Calif.), 1:22:09
Athena 39 & Under: Louise Grausso (East Moric, N.Y.), 1:25:54
Athena 40+: Michelle Collier (Bedford, N.H.), 1:35:28
Clydesdale 39 & Under: Jon Pearson (Tabernacle, N.J.), 1:57:15
Clydesdale 40+: Nicholas Evans (Highland Valley, Texas), 1:22:13
Photo Credit: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image