|2012 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team qualifiers Laura Bennett and Manuel Huerta (photo - left) highlight a field of more than 70 international athletes set to compete Saturday at the Dallas ITU Pan American Cup.
The draft-legal Olympic-distance race (1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run) will feature nearly 40 Americans competing on their home soil. The women will race at noon, followed by the men at 2:45 p.m.
On the women's side, Bennett (Boulder, Colo.) returns to ITU action for the first time since recording her first career World Triathlon Series podium finish and punching her ticket to London at the May 11 ITU World Triathlon San Diego. She swam collegiately in the Dallas area at Southern Methodist University.
Additionally, 2011 USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year Kelly Whitley (Colorado Springs, Colo.) of the Elite Triathlon Academy and 2011 USA Triathlon Under-23 Athlete of the Year Kaitlin Shiver (Melbourne, Fla.) are slated to race after making their ITU World Triathlon Series debuts in San Diego. Visit triathlon.org for a complete women's start list.
On the men's side, Huerta (Miami, Fla.) will race for the first time since qualifying for the London Games with a ninth-place finish at the May 12 ITU World Triathlon San Diego. Joining Huerta in the men's field is Kevin Collington (Orlando, Fla.), who owns a pair of top-five Pan American Cup finishes in 2012, and USA Triathlon Project 2016 program member Joe Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.)
Reigning ITU Junior World Champion Lukas Verzbicas (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Elite Triathlon Academy teammates Kevin McDowell (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Ryan Bice (Colorado Springs, Colo.) also will compete. Visit triathlon.org for a complete men's start list.
A handful of athletes with Dallas-area ties are slated to compete, including 2012 Elite Duathlon National Champion D'Ann Arthur (Dallas, Texas), the husband-and-wife tandem of Barrett and Lauren Brandon (Fort Worth, Texas) and rising star William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas).
In addition to the ITU Pan American Cup, Dallas also hosts the PlayTri Youth F1 (ages 12-16) and Elite Development Races (ages 16-23) Saturday morning. These sprint-distance events are designed to provide top up-and-coming triathletes with draft-legal racing experience. Action begins at 7 a.m. with the women's Elite Development Race. Visit playtri.com for complete event information.