Youth Triathlon growing in popularity

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Young people ages 7 through 16 dawned their swim caps, bike helmets then running shoes to compete in the third annual Socorro Chile Harvest Youth Triathlon last Friday evening.

New Mexico Tech’s campus played host to this year’s event, which had almost 70 participants from around New Mexico and Texas.

The USA Triathlon sanctioned competition was broken into five separate age categories. Each group swam, biked and ran varying distances based on age, and the top three finishers in each group were recognized.

Entrants ages 7-8 years old were required to swim 50 yards, bike two kilometers and run 1/2 kilometer.

Those in the 9-10 group swam 100 yards, biked two kilometers and also ran 1/2 kilometer.

Competitors ages 11-12 swam 150 yards, biked four kilometers and ran one kilometer, while those in the 13-14 and 15-16 age categories were asked to swim 200 yards, bike four kilometers and run one more.

In the boys 7-8 age group, Socorro residents Scott Bunning and Colton Dow finished in first and second, respectively, with times of 12:02 and 12:35, while Shane Neeley of Williamsburg, N.M., came in third with a time of 13:11.

Scott’s older brother Skyler Bunning won the boys 9-10 age category with a time of 15:14, and another brotherly duo, Aurum and Aidan Burrell from Albuquerque, finished in second and third place, respectively. Aurum’s overall time was 16:09 and his brother was just one second behind at 16:10.

El Paso’s Christopher Bustillos won the boys 11-12 age group, finishing in 19:32. Colton Snelling from Albuquerque placed second with a time of 21:41, while Chris Milam, also of Albuquerque, posted a time of 22 minutes even to take third. Socorro’s Devan Webb won the boys 13-14 age bracket, posting a time of 23:28. Richard Milam and Sammy Hughes, both from Albuquerque, finished in second and third with times of 26:59 and 27:26, respectively.

The only two triathletes competing in the boys 15-16 age group were El Paso’s Gonzalo Arredondo and Josh Lawless of Magdalena.

Arredondo won first in a time of 28:31, and Lawless finished second with an overall 31:32.

The girls also had some local entrants compete well, as Socorro’s Emma Montoya won the 7-8 age group, finishing in 10:39. Logan Woods of Truth or Consequences came in second at 13:47 and Albuquerque’s Anna White finished in third place with a time of 14:50.

In the girls 9-10 age race, it was an Albuquerque sweep. Natalie Snelling took first, finishing in 15:20, Audrey Napier finished in second place with a time of 17:28 and Campbell Roberts in third, posting a time of 18:41.

Selah Hermosillo of El Paso won the girls 11-12 age division in 22:12, Kayla Botko of Socorro took second in a time of 24:52, and Albuquerque resident Rachel White finished in third with a time of 27:34.

Another Socorro competitor, Holly Oxford, won the girls 15-16 age group in 28:40. Melene Berkstresser of T or C finished with a time of 33 minutes flat, and Josetta De La Torre from Los Lunas came in third with a time of 34:56.

This year’s youth triathlon turnout helped prove that the event is growing in popularity. Last year there were 52 youth competitors and this year that number rose to 65, 19 of those being from Socorro.

The individual success of some of locals can be attributed to a number of people from around town who help develop athletes at a young age. One of those is Socorro cross country coach Steven Montoya.

Webb, the boys 13-14 age group first-place finisher, said Montoya has had a big influence on him.

“Montoya has encouraged (Devan) a lot,” Webb’s mother Tisha said.

“He’s been a positive influence in young children’s lives.”