Piranhas, HyPER quartet set for assault on Australian title

SPEED TO BURN: Lauren Kerwick will skipper the NSW side, and is expected to give the national title a serious shake. Photo: NICK McGRATH

SPEED TO BURN: Lauren Kerwick will skipper the NSW side, and is expected to give the national title a serious shake. Photo: NICK McGRATH

Not even a torn hamstring could hamper Orange’s Lauren Kerwick at the NSW All Schools Triathlon Championship earlier this year, but she's fully aware how much more difficult it will be at this week’s national titles at Penrith.

Kerwick battled through injury to claim gold in the state race but she’s fit now and with a solid preparation under her belt, the Orange Cycle and Triathlon Club star is set for an all-out assault on the 26km course in her bid for Australian glory.

Kerwick, also the NSW team captain, will compete in the senior girls’ race on Thursday morning, which consists of a 750-metre swim leg before a 20km ride and 5km run.

As the fastest female in NSW in her division, she’s expected to be a red-hot chance at a podium finish.

“I’d love to win a medal but I know that’s very hard to do, so I’m going to try my hardest and see how I go,” she said.

Kerwick is joined in the NSW side this week by fellow Piranhas and HyPER Hy Performance Endurance Racing teammates Abby Dean, Jack Bilton and Connor Whiteley, further cementing the colour city’s reputation as a breeding ground for superstar triathletes.

Like Kerwick, Whiteley is no stranger to the national scene and will also compete in the senior division, tackling the boys’ race.

I’d love to win a medal but I know that’s very hard to do. - NSW skipper Lauren Kerwick

Both in year 12, at Orange High School and Kinross Wolaroi School respectively, this year’s competition will be their swansong, their final chance.

They have plenty of experience on their side though, having debuted together at the Australian Schools Triathlon Festival (ASTF) way back in 2013.

Whiteley produced his best result at nationals in 2016, claiming a gold medal in the relay event and finishing inside the top 10 individually.

The latter was a huge finish, considering he’d been penalised in the previous year’s individual race.

At the time, the races weren’t draft legal and Whiteley infringed. Last year that rule was changed and there remains a draft legal race in place in 2017.

Happy with his 2016 results, Whiteley set his goals immediately for the 2017 edition.

“I’d like to get top three, podium, finishes in both the relay and individual races,” he said at the time.

Just 13 years old, Dean finished fifth at the All Schools Championship.

This week is her national debut, she’ll be competing in the junior girls’ races – 400m swim, 12km ride, 3km run.

Bilton is the first reserve for the NSW senior boys’ side but still heads away with the team, valuable experience for the 18-year-old.

The ASTF kicked off on Tuesday and Wednesday with familiarisation runs. The individual races are on Thursday and the team events on Friday.

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