TRAC trims Mini Games team to 6 with 1 alternate


The CNMI Triathlon National Team members, from left, Robyn Spaeth, Kathy Ruszala, and Heather Brook, Leo Wania, Christian Villacrusis, alternate Dylan Mister, and Isaiah Aleksenko. (CHRYSTAL MARINO)

The Triathlon Association of the CNMI has officially cut its 12-athlete pool to the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 to six with one alternate even as the team prepares to leave for Rota this coming Thursday.

CNMI Triathlon National Team manager Jay Diyco said making the team are Heather Brook, Robyn Spaeth, and Kathy Ruszala for the women and Leo Wania, Christian Villacrusis, and Isaiah Aleksenko for the men. Youngster Dylan Mister is the alternate for the men’s team.

Diyco also said with the final composition of the team settled, everyone’s morale is good as members are getting in shape and are ready and excited for the triathlon events set on the island of Rota.

“Just expect them to do their best, go all out and try to get medals, of course, that’s our main goal.” 

Diyco said he’s expecting a lot of competition from other island nations during the Mini Games such as Guam, Tahiti, and New Caledonia, but he believes Team CNMI still has a good chance for a podium finish.

TRAC board member Florence Antonio is also optimistic that Team CNMI will have a good showing in the quadrennial event since they’ll be competing on home soil and will have a crowd’s overwhelming support.

“We are looking for gold, one or two gold medals maybe. Both male and female and we are hoping to have you know a gold medal finish because they are giving a lot of effort to train. But it doesn’t matter if they win or not, at least they have to show sportsmanship, that’s a part of this sport. It’s not just about winning,” he said.

When asked about CNMI athletes’ advantages in this Mini Games, Antonio said “Well, I think they have a psychological advantage because this is our home.” Diyco also noted that the second advantage for the team is that CNMI athletes are already used to the environment and weather.

Having months of training, the team members are ready. Spaeth told Saipan Tribune, “We’ve been training for a couple of months so we’re all ready I think, to get to the race now. We’ve all improved a lot over the last few months, and [we’re] kinda excited to test it out now. Yeah, it’s a really huge honor, and [we’re] just really, really excited.”

Spaeth said she’s been to Rota several times in the past, and most recently visited with the team a couple of weeks prior. The Marianas High School teacher said she is expecting to have a really good race and finish strong.

Throughout the week, the team maintained a training schedule for cycling, running, and swimming, and early morning Sundays they gather for their group training sessions at the Last Command Post in Marpi.

Diyco extended his thanks to TRAC as well as the Mini Games Organizing Committee for all their support. He also recognized community members, especially CNMI athletes for their time, effort, and sacrifices. He also gave a shout out to Antonio for his constant help in the setup of the triathlon team’s training sessions.

A total of 35 athletes will compete in triathlon with the Northern Marianas, Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, and Tahiti having six athletes each, followed by Guam with four and Palau with one.

Triathlon will be held for two days on Rota—June 20 and June 22. Day 1 will have the men’s and women’s triathlon events, while Day 2 will have men’s and women’s aquathlon and the mixed relay events. (Chrystal Marino)

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