Youth triathlon team piles up medals at Donner Lake |

Youth triathlon team piles up medals at Donner Lake

Members of the Truckee Triathlon Team pose after competing at the June Lake Triathlon on Saturday, July 7.
Courtesy of Truckee Triathlon Team

Not many places have the depth of athletic talent to support a local youth triathlon team.

Then again, the Truckee-Tahoe area isn’t like most places.

For nearly a decade, the Truckee Triathlon Team has encouraged youngsters to enter the sport, while also giving dozens of the area’s winter athletes an opportunity to cross-train during the summer months.

“All of these kids ski whether it’s Nordic or downhill,” said Team Director Gerry Rodriguez on the team’s makeup. “It’s a way for them to keep up their endurance during the summer and do some cross-training.”

The team, formerly Wild Cherries Triathlon Team, is made up of youngsters age 12 to 16, and trains four days a week. Boost Swimming owner Jeff Pearson coaches the squad in the water and also sponsors the team through his company, and Head Coach Matt Drexel oversees running and bike training.

“When I took over (four years ago) — I’m not a triathlete — I went out and hired a national-level collegiate athlete from the University of Colorado, Matt Drexel,” said Rodriguez on what has impacted the team most during his time with the squad.

For strength and conditioning, Alex Savitsky puts the team through a workout at CrossFit Truckee.

“They put in a lot of miles and time and the results are really good for kids in their age brackets,” said Rodriguez. “They’re racing against 18-year-olds and some of those guys are nationally ranked.”

The team recently wrapped up its season last month, competing at the Donner Lake Triathlon where they concluded the year with several podium finishes.

The two-day event began on July 21, with the shorter sprint distance at Donner Lake’s West End Beach.

The team’s Amber Hansford led the way with first place in the girls’ 10 to 14-year-old division, finishing the 0.25-mile swim, 6-mile bike ride, and 2-mile run with a time of 1 hour, 0 minutes, 28 seconds. Out of the 164 total racers at Donner Lake, she finished 56th overall. Hansford also won her age group at the June Lake Triathlon earlier in the month.

Teammate Lola Tieslau climbed the podium as well with a second-place finish in the girls’ 15 to 19-year-old division. The 15-year-old Tieslau finished the course with a time of 1:01:37 for the 18th fastest time of any female racer. Tieslau was also second in her age group at June Lake.

On the boys’ side, Braidon Klovstad also claimed a second place, finishing the course with a time of 57:58 to take silver in the 10- 14-year-old division.

Robert Maxim Jr. and Zachary Blum gave the team two more top-five finishes, going fourth and fifth in the boys’ 15 to 19-year-old race with times of 50:11 and 51:53, respectively. Cole Jacobson crossed the line shortly after with a time of 52:58 for sixth place. Blum finished the race with the seventh fastest overall time on the bike out of any competitor in the field. Blum was also second in his age group earlier in the month at June Lake.

Several members of the Truckee Triathlon Team joined up the following day to compete in the Olympic relay. The team of Jessie Koltz, Hanna Mazur, and Diego Rodriguez captured first overall with a time of 2:48:35, topping next fastest team in the field of 14 squads by 35 seconds.

After taking places four through six in the sprint race, Blum, Jacobson, and Maxim Jr. teamed up for a third-place finish in the relay, crossing the line with a time of 2:49:34.

The conclusion of the Donner Lake Triathlon marks Rodriguez’s final year with the team. Drexel and Truckee’s Jeff Bender will handle duties as the team’s director going forward.

For more information on the team visit

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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