Alter’s Grilliot makes Team USA in triathlon championship

Hooked on triathlon as a youth, Maria Grilliot will soon take her three disciplines to the highest level, representing the United States in a world team event.

Grilliot, a Spring Valley resident and Alter High School junior, has qualified for Team USA and the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final at Edmonton, Alberta, over Labor Day weekend.

She earned a spot on the 16-19 Junior Elite girls team by placing fifth in her age group (17) in the USAT Youth-Junior National Championship in Milwaukee on Aug. 2.

“I’m so happy and honored to have this opportunity,” she said this week. “I’m looking forward to representing the USA and doing the best that I’ve got.”

That’s been good enough to earn a recurring spot with the USA Triathlon Olympic Development program. She’s been part of the national training program at Colorado Springs, Colo., the last couple of years.

She also has been nationally ranked among the top five in her age group since she took up the sport.

Started in the mid-1970s, triathlon consists of a swim, bike and run, usually in that order. Triathlons vary from “sprint” or “short-course,” the standard “Olympic” distance and the long-distance Ironman that consists of a 2.4-mile open-water swim, 112-mile bike ride and full 26.2 marathon run.

Men’s and women’s triathlon was added to the Olympics in 2000. This fall women’s triathlon will be included as an NCAA “emerging sport” in all divisions.

Grilliot was 19th overall at Milwaukee among 64 elite age-groupers. She covered the half-mile, open-water swim in 11 minutes, 43 seconds, the 12.4-mile bike (20K) in 30.33 (averaging 24.4 mph) and the 3.1-mile run (5K) in 20:31.

Her overall time of 1:04.57 includes the swim-to-bike and bike-to-run transitions.

Initially a distance runner (“not a very talented sprinter,” she said), Grilliot gave up running track and field at Alter to concentrate on triathlon’s season, the bulk of which is in the spring, summer and early fall. After Edmonton, she’ll return to run with the Alter cross country program.

A strong biker, she joined the Dayton Raiders swim club last February to swim year round and improve her freestyle ability. At 5 foot 7 and 115 pounds, she’s long and lean, ideal for triathletes.

She often trains two or three times daily. An average training week for her consists of 5,000 meters swimming, 60-70 miles on a couple of Specialized racing bikes and 20-22 running miles.

A hip injury knocked her out of area 5Ks this spring and summer, which she often runs when not a schedule conflict.

She also is a member of the Southeast Junior Developmental Team, a group of the nation’s best up-and-coming boys and girls triathletes who maintain contact and share training regimens and other training insights through social media. The team’s ultimate goal is to groom the triathletes for the Olympics.

“I’ve always tried to keep climbing in my goals,” Grilliot said. “A goal of mine is to be competing internationally. I’m really happy to go to Canada. It’s been a goal of mine for a while. It’s quite an honor.”

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