QUINCY — When Alexandria Meyers discusses competing in her first kids triathlon roughly eight years ago and says her father, Glenn, “threw me into it,” let it be known he didn’t actually throw her into Moorman Lake.
He threw her into a sport that has become her passion.
Meyers was just 9 years old when she competed in a beginner triathlon at Moorman/Wavering Park. She remembers the experience as challenging, unique and captivating.
“I never swam in a lake before,” said Meyers, now 17 and heading into her junior year at Quincy High School. “I had a bike that had a basket on it. It was my first time in a triathlon, but it was really fun.”
It still is.
A cross country standout and distance runner on the QHS track team, Meyers recently showcased how determination and preparation equal results. She finished first in her age division at the USA Triathlon Zone 3 Youth and Junior Nationals held in West Chester, Ohio.
She completed the course in 36 minutes, 13 seconds, to place third overall among the 48 participants in the 16-to-19 category and first among 17 year olds. Meyers finished the 300-yard swim in 5:04, tackled the 6-mile bike ride in 17:36 and knocked out a 1.5-mile run in 10:17.
“They’re pretty good times,” she said modestly.
It led to her first victory on the national stage.
“It was pretty special,” Meyers said.
“It motivates me to want to get to the elite race,” said Meyers, whose 14-year-old sister Emily and two other Quincyans — 18-year-old Ethan Reinhardt and 13-year-old Isabella Reinhardt — also competed at the national event. “Then I can really try to rank myself with the best in the country.”
The Youth and Junior Nationals provide races for a variety of skill levels. The elite race for each group is designed for the best triathletes in the country. It requires a qualification through a series of Junior Elite Cups. The elite races follow the same format as the Olympic triathlon.
The youth age-appropriate races adhere to a non-drafting format and are open to all participants.
A knee injury kept Meyers from qualifying for an elite race this year. Her improving times have her on course for an elite race next year as long as she stays committed.
“Hours of practice,” Meyers said of the secret to success. “You have to be motivated. You have to want to train. You have to like it.”
She clearly does.
“I like the atmosphere of it,” Meyers said. “I really like running. That’s part of why I like doing this sport. I grew into cycling where I really like it. I like all three of the sports involved.”
Each requires plenty of practice, too.
Meyers typically trains at least five days per week, beginning each day with a 90-minute swim session at Sheridan Swim Club. A 4- to 5-mile run and at least an hour of biking finish the day. She builds in time for recuperation and some teenage fun.
“I usually rest on Sundays,” she said.
That schedule will change soon. Cross country practices will replace her standard runs, and her day will include school and homework. It likely will mean less bicycling during the week and more on the weekends.
Whenever she can fit it in, she will. There’s no stopping now.
“I see myself doing this for a long time,” Meyers said.
If she needed any inspiration to keep pushing, watching an Olympian who started his career in Illinois has given her that.
Kevin McDowell placed sixth in the men’s triathlon at the Tokyo Games, the highest finish ever for a U.S. male triathlete at the Olympics. McDowell also was part of the U.S. mixed relay team, which won a silver medal last weekend. Meyers and others gathered at the Youth and Junior Nationals attended a watch party.
“It proves you can do it,” Meyers said. “It’s inspiring.”
McDowell formerly trained with MMTT, based in St. Charles, Ill., and considered the most experienced youth and junior elite triathlon program in the country. Although she trains from afar, Meyers is part of the MMTT program and follows the training regimen they designed for her.
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