Freshman Kyle James-Heer becomes the 2017 USA Triathlon Junior National Champion

At the young age of just five, freshman Kyle James-Heer enrolled in his very first triathlon. Running, swimming, and biking distances that most toddlers physically can’t, Kyle beat every child in his age group. He showed promise in triathlons from his very first attempt. Little did he or his parents know, his love for these three events would flourish from this very second.

Over ten years later, Kyle is now fifteen and thriving on his dedication to triathlons. Since his very first race, Kyle has constantly been training for upcoming triathlons and striving to do the very best that he can.

His lifelong hard work has now undoubtedly paid off, as Kyle is now nationally recognized as the USA Junior Triathlon Champion. This coveted title took years of preparation, but Kyle was awarded a gold medal by the USAT Association in front of hundreds.

To win the title, Kyle competed in the USAT Junior National Championship against more than 700 fellow triathletes in West Chester, Ohio over two days in early August. He completed a 200-meter swim, 6.2-mile bike, and one mile run with a time of 30 minutes and 5 seconds.

“I honestly didn’t know what position I would get,” Kyle said. “During the race, I really didn’t realize what position I was in. I really didn’t expect to win, but it felt really good once I found out.”

The three events that triathlons entail- biking, swimming, and running- each require separate training sessions. As these sports are all significantly different, Kyle has to adhere to distinct rules and develop different strategies for each. Similarly, Kyle finds himself with individual opinions and attitudes towards each event.

“I enjoy running a lot because I’ve been running for most of my life,” Kyle said. “My dad started running when he was really young. I thought it would be cool to try it too, and I’ve loved running ever since. But swimming is definitely my least favorite. I get kicked in the face a lot.”

Part of Kyle’s monumental success is attributed to his family’s passion for sports. His dad, Craig James-Heer, shares Kyle’s love for triathlons and is Kyle’s sole coach for training in all three events year-round.

“My parents definitely support me the most,” Kyle said. “My dad has always been my coach and always been there for me too. My mom is always supportive, and my little sister trains with us a lot of the time too.”

Craig, Kyle’s mom, Tracey James-Heer, and his little sister support each other in their athletic endeavors. They are constantly cheering each other on for Kyle’s triathlons or Craig’s marathons. Although Kyle’s preparation for his triathlons can be taxing on his whole family, they all get to celebrate his success and share his pride.

“We are most proud of his discipline when it comes to training and competing,” Tracey said. “He is very consistent and has a relentless focus on getting better. We are probably most proud of the last couple of seasons when he was able to stand on the podium at USAT Nationals and earn a couple of medals.”

The past ten years of training have had countless good memories for the James-Heer family. For Tracey and Craig, seeing their son succeed in the sports that they love brings gratification and fulfillment. Kyle’s situation is unique because of the amount he has achieved at such a young age.

We are most proud of his discipline when it comes to training and competing. He is very consistent and has a relentless focus on getting better.”

— Tracey James-Heer

“This past season, Kyle had his first win over his dad,” Tracey said. “As a parent, seeing your child exceed you is a memorable moment. Kyle was able to run him down and pass him with about .1 miles to go on the run… The great thing about triathlon is that he can compete throughout his entire life.”

Kyle often has to plan his weeks around his triathlon practices. Although he’s also a dedicated member of the FHC varsity cross country team, this constant action takes no toll on his social life. In fact, his friends think of him as the lively “comediana�� of their group. One such friend is freshman Reid Davison.

“I am very proud to have Kyle as my friend,” Reid said. “He has worked so hard to compete in [all of] his events. I think that Kyle worked his butt off, and I would assume he trained every day. His work definitely paid off considering [his results] in his triathlon.”

Indeed, to stay competitive in a world filled with strong athletes, Kyle has put in hundreds of hours of training in biking, swimming, and running. Every week, there is often up to ten hours of training to cover all aspects of his intense sport. Over the summer, Kyle often found himself waking up before 5 a.m. to compete in his many races.

“Unlike most sports where you focus on one discipline, triathlons require significant training in swimming, biking, and running,” Craig said. The training is especially challenging at the tail end of the school year with the demands of school and spring sports. Additionally, it is challenging to do all of this as a solo athlete. Besides training with his dad and his sister, he is doing it alone, which can be isolating.”

Although it may be extremely hard work, Kyle has no doubt that he will continue to race in the future. The early mornings, late nights, constant practices, and exhaustion is a small price to pay for the national recognition, self-improvement, and pride he brings to his family. Not to mention, Kyle loves doing what he does.

“[Triathlons] are my passion, and I really love to do it,” Kyle said. “It’s a lot of work, but it felt really good after I realized I won. When I’m racing, there’s a lot of adrenaline going. I’m just focusing on going faster, harder, and ultimately trying to win.”