Morgan Pearson of Boulder, Colorado and Kirsten Sass of McKenzie, Tennessee won the overall titles at the USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint Distance National Championships Sunday at Levi Carter Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
Pearson’s victory came in the professional runner’s first-ever triathlon and Sass’s win followed her Overall Women’s Olympic Distance National Championship triumph Saturday.
Sass, who won the women's 35-39 age group category both days, also earned her first-ever Olympic distance overall title Saturday.
“I wasn’t really sure how close I was to the overall, but my dad was out there saying, ‘Every second counts!’” said Sass, who was also the 2016 USA Triathlon overall sprint-distance champion. “I wasn’t expecting the rain, so that’s where the mental aspect comes in, just finding your own zone, enjoying the day and seeing all the amazing athletes that are out there.”
Kearci Smith of Plano, Texas, racing in the female 25-29 wave, took the second overall women’s sprint title. Smith, who started on an earlier wave than Sass, was the first woman to cross the finish line. But after the timers examined the elapsed times, Sass beat her younger rival.
Sass finished in 1:06:50, 34 seconds ahead of overall runner-up Smith, and 43 seconds ahead of women’s 3rd place overall finisher Ali Brauer of Boulder, Colorado.
“I swam and ran [at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon], and when I went to grad school at the University of Colorado I was looking for a team to join,” Brauer told USA Triathlon media. “Being a swimmer and a runner, I thought I might as well try biking. I’ve done more this year than I ever thought I would be able to.”
Pearson was the breakout star, winning a national championship in his debut triathlon.
An NCAA Division 1 track star at the University of Colorado and a professional road runner with a 5k PR under 14 minutes, Pearson was introduced to the sport through the USA Triathlon College Recruitment Program. Pearson opened with a strong 10:00 swim, then followed with decent 30:57 split for the 20-kilometer bike leg. Pearson then put the race away with a world-class 14:15 split for the 5k run – a time which was 1:44 faster than his closest rival.
Pearson finished in 58:08 with a 1:48 margin of victory over overall runner-up Kevin Denny of Lee’s Summit Missouri [M25-29] and 2:01 ahead of 3rd place overall finisher Evan Culbert of Johnston, Iowa [M20-24].
“I didn’t know how the bike would go, but I knew my run would be pretty quick, and I had one of the faster swims,” Pearson told USA Triathlon media. “I came here yesterday to watch, and there were lots of people. There were fewer today because of the weather, but overall it seems like people are pretty stoked about this event, so that makes it fun.”
The top six finishers in each age group and gender earned the opportunity to represent Team USA next year in the draft-legal ITU Age Group Triathlon Sprint World Championships, which will be held in Gold Coast, Australia.
Athletes will have one additional opportunity to qualify for the sprint-distance world championships at the Age Group Draft-Legal World Qualifier on October 7 in Sarasota, Florida.
USA Triathlon Sprint National Championship
August 13, 2017
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
Top 10 Overall Sprint Distance Men
1. Morgan Pearson (Boulder CO) 58:08 *M20-24
2. Kevin Denny (Lee’s Summit MO) 59:53 *M25-29
3. Evan Culbert (Johnston IA) 1:00:08 *M20-24
4. Andy Krueger (Portland OR) 1:00:13 *M15-19
5. Erik Peterson (Fort Collins CO) 1:01:23 *M25-29
6. Jack Toland (Kirkland WAS) 1:01:38 *M 20-24
7. Zach Wilson (Carmel IN) 1:01:48 *M15-19
8. Grayson Barber (Highlands Ranch CO) 1:01:52 *M15-19
9. Wilson Norris (Brentwood TN) 1:02:08 *M20-24
10. Reece Linder (Cedar Rapids IA) 1:02:54 *M15-19
Top 10 Overall Sprint Distance Women
1. Kirsten Sass (McKenzie TN) 1:06:50 *F 35-39
2. Kearci Smith (Plano TX) 1:07:24 *F25-29
3. Ali Brauer (Boulder CO) 1:07:33 *F20-24
4. Addison Smith (Knoxville TN) 1:08:02 *F15-19
5. Lisa Becharas (Normal IL) 1:08:14 *F25-29
6. Danielle Dingman (Branson MO) 1:08:20 *F25-29
7. Shannon Kaplan (Philadelphia PA) 1:09:43 *F35-39
8. Stacy Sweetser (Amherst NH) 1:09:50 *F40-44
9. Elizabeth Vermann (St. Louis MO) 1:09:52 *F25-29
10. Lindsey Batkiewicz (Johnston IA) 1:09:L53 *F15-19
Overall Female: Kirsten Sass (McKenzie TN) 1:06:50
Overall Male: Morgan Pearson (Boulder CO) 58:08
Masters Female: Stacy Sweetser (Amherst NH) 1:09:50
Masters Male: Scott Erba (Winona Lake IN) 1:03:56
Grand Masters Female: Kelly Dippold (Olathe KS) 1:12:12
Grand Masters Male: Lincoln Murdoch (Omaha NE) 1:09:03
F15-19: Addison Smith (Knoxville TN) 1:08:02
M15-19: Andy Krueger (Portland OR) 1:00:13
F20-24: Ali Brauer (Boulder CO) 1:07:33
M20-24:Morgan Pearson (Boulder SO) 58:08
F25-29: Kearci Smith (Plano TX) 1:07:24
M25-29: Kevin Denny (Lees Summit MO) 59:53
F30-34: Linzie Hebert (Choudrant LA) 1:11:03
M30-34: Wade Cruser (Sauk Rapids MN) 1:02:45
F35-39: Kirsten Sass (McKenzie TN) 1:06:50
M35-39: Michael Boehmer (Boulder CO) 1:03:09
F40-44: Stacy Sweetser (Amherst NH) 1:09:50
M40-44: James Hallberg (Longmont CO) 1:04:10
F45-49: Celia Dubey (Tarpon Springs FL) 1:13:33
M45-49: Scott Erba (Winona Lake IN) 1:03:56
F50-54: Lauren Jensen (Muskego WI) 1:12:01
M50-54: Brian Francis (Ann Arbor MI) 1:04:00
F55-59: Kelly Dippold (Olathe KS) 1:12:12
M55-59: Lee Walther (Oklahoma City OK) 1:06:44
F60-64: Sharon Johnson (Andover MA) 1:17:52
M60-64: Lincoln Murdoch (Omaha NE) 1:09:03
F65-69: Missy LeStrange (Visalia CA) 1:24:46
M65-69: Kevin Simmons (Lake Mary FL) 1:15:57
F70-74: Paula Larsen (Delafield WI) 1:35:18
M70-74: Simon Butterworth (Lafayette CO) 1:21:54
F75-79: Lois Leon (Miami FL) 1:43:04
M75-79: William Marshall (Santa Rosa CA) 1:30:34
F80-84: Sheila Isaacs (Shoreham NY) 2:01:18
M80-84: Bob Palmatier (El Cajon CA) 1:55:37
F85+: Molly Hayes (Bozeman MT) 2:51:13
M85+: Wayne Fong (Chatsworth CA) 2:29:59