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Local athletes fare well in elite amateur series at St. Anthony's

The sun rises over Tampa Bay as participants in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon compete in the first leg of Sunday’s event, a 1.5K swim.


The sun rises over Tampa Bay as participants in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon compete in the first leg of Sunday’s event, a 1.5K swim.

ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Collington, a 24-year-old set to graduate Friday from the University of Florida, finished sixth at the St. Anthony's Triathlon on Sunday, just eight days after winning the undergraduate title at the College Nationals in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Other notable Florida pros included Matt Greene, 23, of Gainesville who finished 25th, and Reinaldo Oliveira, 30, of Fort Lauderdale. In the women's ranks, Kassianna Rossa, a 29-year-old from Doral, was 22nd.

In the elite amateur series, Tampa Bay's triathletes had a much better showing. Javier Beuzeville, a 20-year-old from Tampa, finished seventh in his heat, 33rd overall. Tampa resident Andres Munera, 37, followed in 10th, 39th overall.

Other notables included Dominic Didomenico, 26, of Tampa, 76th; Roberto Lombilla, 37, St. Petersburg, 101st; David Litkenhus, 38, Riverview, 109th; Carey Rowan, 40, Clearwater Beach, 40, 147th, and Manny Valdes, 43, Riverview, 154th.

Among the elite women, Lotte Branigan, 34, of Vero Beach finished second in her heat, 97th overall, followed by Linda Robb, 44, of Juno Beach, who was third in her heat, 99th overall.

The highest Tampa Bay area woman was Kathy Frailing, 41, of Belleair Beach, who finished 228th overall. Christina Noordstar, 32, of Tierra Verde came in 319th. Kailand Cosgrove, 18, of Tarpon Springs came in 434th, followed by Amy Keener, 32, of St. Petersburg in 492nd.

Rounding out the women's elite were Ashley Boccia, 27, of Tampa, 907th, and Miranda Lessie, 40, of Tampa, 1,237th.

Super moms

One of the most competitive age groups is the women's 45-49.

"Your kids are finally grown up so you can finally get a little time to train," said Colorado's Alicia Caldwell, mother of 11- and 14-year-old boys.

Caldwell said triathletes from cold-weather states have a disadvantage at an early season race such as St. Anthony's.

"It was 40 degrees when I left," she said.

But the 46-year-old still turned in a time of 2:30:11 for a third place in her age group.

St. Petersburg's Claudia Junqueira finished first with a time of 2:27:42. The 45-year-old physical therapist has a 7-year-old son with whom she trains.

"We swim together," she said. "I wake up early every morning to get it all in."

25's a charm

St. Petersburg attorney Jack Hellinger has competed in the St. Anthony's Triathlon every year since it started.

"This is just what you do on the last Sunday in April," said Hellinger, 57.

He nearly missed the triathlon one year due to illness but competed anyway.

"I wanted to keep the streak going," he said.

This year, Hellinger got to watch his two sons, Jaret, 11, and Luke, 9, compete in the Meek & Mighty Triathlon, as well. Hellinger turned in a time of roughly 2 hours and 50 minutes, his usual performance.

"The leaders don't need to worry," he said. "They are safe with me."

One for all, all for one

St. Anthony's had 130 relay teams this year. Among them was the Team Pura Vida, with brothers Tom and Tim Ramsberger, vice president and general manager of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, respectively, and friend Kevin Burkhart.

"Our strategy was simple," Tim said. "We start slow, taper off and save all of our energy for the postrace party."

Everybody's hero

Ryan Levinson, a 35-year-old with muscular dystrophy, was one of several triathletes from the Challenged Athletes Foundation participating in this year's event.

"I had the ride of my life," Levinson said. "I got a new bike, a Specialized Transition, which allowed me to ride faster, using a lower gear."

But Levinson, who lost 12 pounds of muscle last year to the debilitating disease, had a hard time on the run.

"It was the most painful experience of my life," he said. "But I am still glad to be here. Triathlons make me feel like I have a place instead of just being in the way."

Meek & Mighty

While tri-pros Matt Reed, Andy Potts and Greg Bennett may have got all the glory in Sunday's St. Anthony's, those speedsters got nothing on the future superstars who competed in Saturday's Meek & Mighty Triathlon.

Among the male athletes ages 11 to 14 in the 1-mile run, 4-mile bike and 200-yard swim, Alex Marshall, a 13-year-old from Alpharetta, Ga., finished first in 27:15, followed by 14-year-old Noah Stebbins of Brandon in 27:38 and John-Gerard Farese, 13, of St. Petersburg in 27:41.

Among the female athletes the same age, Ciara Hopkins, an 11-year-old from Clermont, finished first in 28:06, followed by Hanna Palm, 14, of Largo in 30:39 and Stephanie Kistamaker, 14, of Largo in 30:46.

In the youngest age group, 7-10, the athletes ran a half-mile, biked 3.6 miles and swam 100 yards. Riley Hawes, 10, of Sarasota, finished first in 21:14, followed by Alex Cronin, 10, of Jupiter in 21:32 and Zachary Quilty, 10, of St. Petersburg in 21:42.

Collegiate Nationals

Alexandria Lechner of Clearwater represented the University of Florida at the recent Collegiate Nationals in Tuscaloosa. Lechner finished eighth among undergraduate females. The TriGators finished ninth out of 117 collegiate teams.

TriGator Ryan Repp placed 54th out of 109 in the men's graduate division in 2:22:25. In the sprint race, UF's Kellen Goodell finished 42nd in 1:20:31, and St. Pete Mad Dogs member Mary Repp finished in 1:31:27 in the individual division.


Tom Fitzgerald, a 42-year-old triathlete from Treasure Island, will be headed to the Ford Ironman World Championship on Oct. 11 in Hawaii.

Fitzgerald completed his first Ironman at age 39. A frequent business traveler, Fitzgerald does 80 percent of his training on a treadmill or stationary bike. He was one of nearly 7,000 athletes who entered this year's lottery. Only 200 athletes are selected.

Terry Tomalin can be reached at or (727) 893-8808. Send your swimming, biking, running, triathlon and adventure racing information to and click on the "Submit info" link.

Local athletes fare well in elite amateur series at St. Anthony's 04/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 1:02pm]
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