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Elite Henderson youth triathletes compete in national championships

Updated August 8, 2017 - 2:49 pm

Henderson physical therapy clinic Maximum Velocity was abuzz with the turn of bike wheels July 31st as youth triathlon team Hyper Speed cycled through the hour.

Clad in red and blue tracksuits, the team of nine girls and eight boys looked to each other in quick glances for inspiration. Their stationary bikes whirred along.

“They race against grown athletes,” said their coach, physical therapist Ron Gallagher.

Six of Hyper Speed’s team members qualified for elite status in June at the Monroe Triathlon in Monroe, Washington.

This earned each of them a spot at the USA Triathlon Youth and Junior National Championships, held Aug. 5-6 in West Chester, Ohio, along with more than 1,000 of the nation’s fastest youth triathletes.

Gallagher formed the team in 2015, believing it would help prevent injuries.

“If you spend year-round all on one sport, you end up getting injured,” Gallagher said. “I was seeing a ton of injuries the same way.”

Hyper Speed’s members range in age from 10 to 17, and many have a primary sport that they dedicate their time to outside of triathlon training, such as swimming or running. Gallagher makes sure the children are well-rounded and that all of their muscles are being used.

“We get the swimmers out of the pool and into running and cycling two days a week,” Gallagher said. “And we get the runners off their feet, swimming and cycling.”

Gallagher previously worked at UNLV for two years as a track and field coach.

Many Hyper Speed teammates have shifted their focus strictly to triathlons.

Siblings Abby and Amber Robinson, who attend Basic High School, are competitive swimmers. They both qualified for elite this year at the Monroe Triathlon.

“We knew we had a chance, and once we found out, it was pretty awesome,” Amber Robinson, 15, said.

The sisters were set to compete against each other in the national championship, but they weren’t worried. They’re used to the team’s mentality of working together.

“Being able to train with other people who have the same passion as you and are working toward the same goals as you has been a pretty great experience,” Abby Robinson, 14, said.

Shawna Glasser, president of the Las Vegas Triathlon Club, has witnessed Hyper Speed’s growth through the years, and she isn’t surprised by its success.

“I love the fact that most of those parents don’t give their kids everything,” Glasser said. “Some of those kids actually purchase their own equipment. They are self-motivated.”

Glasser has attempted to grow the Triathlon Club’s youth program for years, but it isn’t easy, considering how involved parents need to be.

“So many parents today just want to drop them off and come back later, and it just doesn’t work like that,” Glasser said.

Henderson youth triathlons began to popularize five to six years ago, Glasser said. Those offered include off-road triathlon event Diamond Kid and indoor swim triathlon Phast, as well as the Triathlon Club’s youth events.

Justin Neubeck, 15, has been involved in many of them. He was ranked 27th nationally in the USA Triathlon national rankings in 2016.

A champion cross-country runner, Neubeck competed in his first triathlon at age 6. The Foothill High School student trains twice a day and has his sights set on the Summer Olympics.

“I want to make it to Tokyo 2020 in either track or cross-country,” he said.

“Or triathlon,” Gallagher said, correcting him.

“Or triathlon,” Neubeck echoed.

Contact Alex Meyer at ameyer@viewnews.com or 702-383-0496. Follow @alxmey on Twitter.

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