O’Fallon School District 90 Fitness and Sport Training Camp hosted its fifth annual mini-triathlon Friday morning at the O’Fallon Park and Memorial Swimming Pool.
Swim smooth for 500 yards, cycle fast for three miles, run hard for two miles, and breathe slow and deep for as long as possible are the events in which the student-athletes competed, according to Tracy Lauderdale, O’Fallon District 90 athletic director.
“It is a really awesome thing to watch these junior high athletes push themselves harder than they have ever pushed themselves before. Plus, the parents got a bird’s-eye view of how hard these kids worked for this event,” Lauderdale said.
Carriel Junior High School eighth-grader Eric Shackleford set a blistering pace for the boys as he won first place in a time of 42:40.
“It’s nice, but there’s a lot of really good runners out here, and I’m happy they’re doing this program. I think it really helps keep kids fit,” Schackleford said.
The second-place finisher in the boys division was Chase Hanson, 13, of Mascoutah, said this was his fourth year participating with a time of 47:21.
“It’s a lot of fun. I play football and basketball so to get ready for this I really focus on my swimming to improve,” Hanson said.
Third place went to O’Fallon SD 90 seventh-grader Connor Dawson, 12, with a time of 48:37.
“It’s fun, a little tiring, but fun, and it gives us something to do over the summer,” Dawson said. “I really worked on my breathing during the bike ride part to make sure I could keep going.”
In the girls division, Fulton Junior High eighth-grader Mackenzie James, 13, was the winner for the second year in a row with a time of 48:43, which Lauderdale said was nearly two-and-a-half minutes better than last year’s time.
“It feels good to finish strong. I swim competitively on the O’Fallon Breakers swim team and play soccer, basketball and volleyball, but this is another way to stay strong,” James said.
In second place was Fulton sixth-grader Rebecca Koenig, 11, with a time of 54:12, who said she was very tired because her bicycle gear was stuck in the highest gear the whole time.
“I wanted to get stronger than my three older brothers” Koenig said.
O’Fallon First Baptist Academy sixth-grader Rylie Arnolds, 11, with a time of 1:00:05 was the third-place finisher for girls.
“The swimming part was harder than I thought, but I want to do it again, since this was my first time. Even if it might look hard, it’s still worth it,” Arnolds said.
Carrie Hruby, O’Fallon SD 90 superintendent, was at the event cheering on her son Ben VanAlstine, a sixth-grader at Carriel Junior High. Ben said the event was harder than he thought it would be, “but fun.”
“It’s all about the kids doing their best — it doesn’t matter who wins or loses,” Hruby said. “It’s all about building that confidence and letting them see that they can accomplish something, because for many of the kids, it was their first doing a triathlon, so to see that it’s within reach is really encouraging for them.”
On behalf of the district and FAST Camp, Lauderdale said he gives high praises to all the participating athletes and volunteers, as well as the O’Fallon Park and Recreation Department for use of facilities for the event.