The CNMI’s youth athletes showcased their promising skills as they held their ground against the seasoned veterans in last Saturday’s relay races in the 2016 Tagaman Triathlon.
Nearly half of the 45 athletes who joined the Olympic distance course of Tagaman relay are in the U18 age group and Jinju Thompson, Erico Castro, and Kaden Church of Team Heartthrob were among them, ruling the mixed relay event after posting 2:35:08.
Thompson started Heartthrob’s bid in the division, timing in at 24:05 in the 1.5-kilometer swim leg held in the waters off the Pacific Islands Club. Her time was ranked at No. 18 out of the 72 swimmers. Then in the 40K bike leg, Castro submitted 1:22:46 to land in the No. 25 spot in the rankings, while Church’s 51:06 put him at No. 15.
Heartthrob placed ahead of Nick Brennfleck, Margaret Rose, and Lorie Hutchison, who tallied 2:44:59, and the team of youth swimmer Sophia Gauran, Ric Antonio, and Fred Remillosa, who registered 2:55:09.
The winning mixed relay squad finished third overall behind men’s division’s Ketson “Jack” Kabiriel, Nick Villalon and Keith Longuski, and the trio of Lennosuke Suzuki, Salofi Welch, and Haruya Eda.
Kabiriel (24:32), Villalon (1:18:29), and Longuski (38:46) combined for 2:22:46 to prevail in the eight-team field, while Lennosuke and company, which were another U18 team, timed in at 2:33:24 to settle for runner-up honors in the men’s division. Ernie Moises, Bob Ferrer, and Gary Bandoja, who combined for 2:37:35 rounded out the Top 3.
In the women’s division, youth swimmer Ayaka Sato teamed up with Lorie Boyer and Akiko Miller to record the field’s fastest time at 2:52:20. They won over Tammy Winkfield and Rachel Epperson (2:58:05) and the trio of Maria Ornes, Tina Goodwin, and Angie Mister, who clocked in at 3:17:08.
Meanwhile, the team of Jinnosuke Suzuki, Taiyo Akimaru, and Rintaro Miyawaki of Saipan Swim Club was the third all-U18 athletes who completed the Olympic course in Tagaman. They totaled 3:10:11 to place at No. 8. Two more SSC bets and siblings Leo and Rinto Takahashi were on the list of youth participants in the relay, as they joined forces with their father Masanori and finished the event in 3:27:22.
Multi-sports youth athletes and friends Steven Goodwin, Cole Chambers, and Logan Mister were entered in the men’s field, too, and finished ahead of the Takahashis after registering 3:02:30, while Saipan Community Schoo students R.J. Pierce, Jeffrey Seo, and Ken Song broke the three-hour barrier after submitting 2:45:33.
In other men’s division results, 11-year-old Akira Kadokura worked with vetarans Tony Stearns and Steve Pixley and they were ranked fifth overall after timing in at 2:41:10. Vener Urena, Jorse Bartolata, and Daniel Marzan rounded out the Olympic distance relay finishers after logging 3:13:18.
In the Half Ironman course, 10-year-old Jinie Thompson braved the two-lap 1.9-kilometer swim leg and timed in at 38:29, finishing ahead of four others. She teamed up with biker Raymund Tolentino (3:24:54/90K ) and runner Ronald VIllafria (1:51:00/21.1K) and they completed the Half Ironman course in 5:54:23.