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Meehan rebounds to win national sprint title

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Allison Park’s Mike Meehan won the USA Triathlon National Age Group Championship overall title in the sprint distance race in Milwaukee on Sunday, but on Saturday night his dad wasn’t sure what was going to happen the next day.

Triathlon is a family pursuit for the Meehans, and dad Matt and younger brother Dan were also racing last weekend. Saturday was the Olympic distance race, in which both Matt and Mike competed. Matt Meehan was happy with his finish of 52nd overall in the men’s 50-54 age group with a time of 2:16:06, but Mike couldn’t say the same.

He overheated on the swim and cramped in the hip and calf the entire time he was on the bike. Mike said his body was completely drained by the time he started the run, and he couldn’t perform to the level he wanted and finished 27th in the men’s 20-24 age group with a time of 2:02:38.

“It was depressing,” Matt Meehan said. “It was like we were in a funeral home Saturday night. He didn’t want to talk. He normally has a little arrogance and cockiness, you have to have that a little bit, and he just had his tail between his legs. I didn’t even know if he was going to race on Sunday.”

Mike said he was concerned, too, about how his body would respond.

“I just tried putting it to the back of my mind and not thinking about it,” he said. “Even though I had a bad race Saturday didn’t mean I was going to have one the next day.”

Matt Meehan was in one of the earlier waves for Sunday’s sprint race and was already done competing when Mike and Dan went out in the final heat of the day featuring all the 24 and under men. He got to monitor their progress, told Mike he was leading his age group during the run and ultimately got to not only watch Mike win but also see Dan finish 20th in the 15-19 age group and qualify for the ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015.

Mike said it was even more special winning the overall title with his brother and father there with him.

“My brother had a torn labrum the whole summer and still qualified for world’s, and my dad did as well as he could since having knee surgery in the spring,” Mike Meehan said. “It was really exciting and I was glad for them to be there. Both my dad and brother were really encouraging after Saturday saying keep your head up, you’re better than that. I’m very glad they were with me.”

Matt Meehan, who’s been doing triathlons since 1983, said he would have been proud of Mike even if he didn’t win to bounce back from a rough race on Saturday. To have him win it all, he said, was incredible.

“I was never that good to end up on the podium like that, and it was really neat to see him occupy a space that in my mind was for guys who you look at and think, ‘Those are the top guys in the nation,’” he said. “Now my son’s up there.”

Victory wasn’t only for the Meehan boys, however. Daughter Ally, 13, stayed home and won the Janney & the Y North Park Triathlon.

“I told my kids it’s the greatest sports day our family has ever had,” Matt Meehan said.

Several other Western Pennsylvania residents turned in top performances competing against the fastest amateur triathletes in the nation.

Ligonier’s Heather Westerman, 42, won the women’s 40-44 age group with a time of 1:09:07.

Ian Baun, of Mt. Lebanon, finished second in the men’s 15-19 age group with a time of 1:00:27. Baun, 17, won the Pittsburgh Triathlon sprint distance race the weekend before with a time of 55:53.

Nearly 1,750 athletes competed in Sunday’s sprint race, consisting of a 750-meter swim, 20K bike and 5K run, and 3,100 competed in Saturday’s Olympic distance race (1,500-meter swim, 40k bike and 10K run). Roughly nine Western Pa. athletes competed Saturday and 30 on Sunday.

Competition was even stronger than usual with spots in the 2015 ITU World Championships on the line. The top 25 finishers in each age group automatically qualified for a spot in the race, which be held in Chicago in September 2015. It is the first time the sprint and Olympic worlds will be held in the U.S. since 2005.

Additional area finishers in the sprint distance race were: Steve Corey, 66, Pittsburgh, 33rd men 65-69, 1:32:21; John Reed, 56, New Wilmington, 37th men 55-59, 1:18:33; Matthew Meehan, 50, Allison Park, 34th men 50-54, 1:10:16; Heather Melzer, 45, Mars, 10th women 45-49, 1:12:04; Dustin Wehler, 34, Pittsburgh, 85th men 30-34, 1:16:52, Dan Meehan, 18, Allison Park, 20th men 15-19, 1:04:34; John Reed, 16, Gibsonia, 56th men 15-19, 1:10:43.

Ashley Kearcher, 26, of Morgantown, who won the Pittsburgh Triathlon sprint the weekend before, finished fifth in the women’s 25-29 group with a time of 1:12:17.

Several Western Pa. folks qualified for worlds in the Olympic distance race.

Roger Brockenbrough, 80, of Mt. Lebanon, finished second in the men’s 80-84 age group with a time of 3:19:55. Heather Melzer, who finished 10th in the sprint on Saturday, finished seventh in her 45-49 age group in 2:19:46. Michael Kearns, 60, of Pittsburgh, was 10th in the men’s 60-64 group with a time of 2:21:01, and Kelly Collier, 25, of West Mifflin, was seventh in the women’s 25-29 age group in 2:15:03.

Other area finishers in the Olympic distance included: Deborah Sagan, 61, Wexford, 39th women 60-64, 3:08:24; Lyman Ringbloom, 64, Pulaski, 104th men 60-64, 3:06:45; Lisa Myers, 51, Mars, 151st women 50-54, 3:14:49; Matthew Meehan, 50, Allison Park, 52nd men 50-54, 2:16:06; Peter Valentino, 50, Brownsville, 128th men 50-54, 2:28:03; Gregory Reed, 51, Gibsonia, 139th men 50-54, 2:28:03; Tammy Powell, 47, Cochranton, 89th women 45-49, 2:40:54; Kimberly Price, 42, Pittsburgh, 160th women 40-44, 2:52:28; Matthew Hawes, 41, Pittsburgh, 146th men 40-44, 2:24:33; Kenny Lehman, 40, Mars, 174th men 40-44, 2:28:51; Kara Andersson, 37, Latrobe, 174th women 35-39, 2:50:18; Sally Sherman, 36, Mars, 185th women 35-39, 2:55:54; Craig Foos, 37, Pittsburgh, 49th men 35-39, 2:08:25; Matthew Guillon, 36, Murrysville, 108th men 35-39, 2:16:17; Sarah Breisinger, 32, Ligonier, 95th women 30-34, 2:40:22; Cara King, 32, Pittsburgh, 160th women 30-34, 3:03:49; Jeffrey Nelson, 33, Monaca, 146th men 30-34, 2:26:14; Christopher Garman, 33, Castle Shannon, 154th men 30-34, 2:28:59; Dustin Wehler, 34, Pittsburgh, 156th men 30-34, 2:30:01; John Bielewicz, 31, Pittsburgh, 163rd men 30-34, 2:32:34; Edie Nault, 26, Pittsburgh, 32nd women 25-29, 2:24:29; Sara Gelder, 28, Jeannette, 67th women 25-29, 2:35:51; Hannah Pierskalla, 24, Pittsburgh, 39th women 20-24, 2:32:52; Erin Edmiston, 24, Hollidaysburg, 47th women 20-24, 2:36:39, Mike Meehan, 20, Allison Park, 27th men 20-24, 2:02:38.

 

Mike Meehan, photo submitted by Gary Baun.

Mike Meehan, photos submitted by Gary Baun.

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= One last item…wish I’d posted this a lot earlier but today is the last day of voting for the Runner’s World cover contest and Ed Lychik is in the running (no pun intended, of course). I first met Ed, an amputee veteran who lost his left leg in Afghanistan on his 21st birthday, a year ago at the Spartan Race in Wintergreen, Va., competing with an amazing group called Operation Enduring Warrior. I’ve interviewed lots of people over the years, many of whom left an impression, but few more so than this man. As I’ve kept up with him via social media I continue to be in awe of his positivity and outlook on life.

If you want to read my story from a year ago on OEW and get a little background on Ed, go here:

http://triblive.com/sports/nationworldsports/4660477-74/team-galloway-lychik#axzz3ATa88FVR

And if you just want to vote to help put him on the cover of Runner’s World, go here:

http://covercontest.runnersworld.com/entry/1077/

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