SEBRING – Saturday’s 14th annual Heartland Kids Triathlon drew large crowds of spectators, coaches, parents, families and athletes to historic downtown Sebring.

The athletes were broken down into two groups with ages 6 through 10 taking to the course first and 11 to 15-year-old kids going second with a little more distance added. Each age group was broken down into male and female divisions.

There were a total of 147 triathletes and eight of those hardcore kids are locals.

The youngest athlete was Liam Griffin of Sebring who competed in the 7-year-old age group and made it to the podium with a third-place finish with a time of 25:30. Griffin was on the heels of first-place finisher, Pablo Escallon, who clocked a 23:46.

Sebring’s Birdie Kulick competed in the 8-year-old group and found herself on the podium with an impressive third-place finish. Kulick crossed the finish line in 30:13. The first-place finisher was Eve Munkittrick who came in at 21:19.

Connor Darrow also from Sebring came in ninth place out of thirteen competitors in the 10-year-old age group. Darrow clocked a 22:40. The first-place triathlete was Ethan Courson with a 17:33.

In the 11-year-old age group, Highlands County had two representatives. Mollie Warren of Lake Placid and Royal Kulick of Sebring. Warren clocked a time of 53:06 placing her in twelfth. Kulick came in seventh with a 43:15. The first-place winner was Connie Curti with a 32:56.

Royal Kulick plans on returning next year. She said she loved the course and wanted to finish with a smile, which she did. She scraped her knee pretty badly but that didn’t stop her.

She was determined to cross that finish line in her first ever triathlon. Kulick said it was an awesome experience and loves having a race in her hometown.

Olivia Mandrell represented Sebring in the 12-year-old age group. Mandrell finished ninth when she crossed the finish line in 51:02. The first-place finisher was Reese McClellan with a 37:32.

The 13-year-old group had two Highlands County kids. Kaleb Zahller and Theron Kulick both from Sebring. Zahller came in eleventh place with a time of 56:23 and was just behind Kulick who finished twelfth with a 41:28. The first-place competitor was Ethan Sullivan with 29:12.

All of the kids were cheered on at the finish line where they were wrapped in a cold towel, given a medal for completing the course and were able to cool down in a pool. The triathletes had a great race, never gave up and battled hard. Several of the competitors plan on returning to compete again next year.

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