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Published: Monday, 8/12/2002

Lewis cruises to men's crown at Sylvania Triathlon

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
A swimmer and a biker reach an exchange area during yesterday's Sylvania Triathlon at Olander Park. Over 400 athletes participated. A swimmer and a biker reach an exchange area during yesterday's Sylvania Triathlon at Olander Park. Over 400 athletes participated.
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Rob Lewis couldn't have asked for better conditions than what he encountered early yesterday morning at the 22nd Sylvania Triathlon held at Olander Park.

The Dayton-area native was greeted with temperatures in the mid-70s and a partly overcast sky. All the elements for a good performance seemed right for Lewis and the more than 400 participants who tested themselves in the Olympic-distance triathlon.

Lewis made the most of his first Sylvania Triathlon by claiming the overall men's title. He finished the challenging event in a time of 1:59.21. After completing the 0.9-mile swim, the 25-mile bike ride and the 6.2-mile run, the 22-year-old triathlete didn't appear weary.

“I really felt great today,” Lewis said. “The weather was perfect. It wasn't too hot. A lot of times it can be really hot and you begin to sweat a lot, especially while running.

“But I felt really good. I think it helped that it is a flat course, so you don't have to fight with hills.”

Jeanne Debonis of Brecksville, Ohio found no fault with her first experience running the Sylvania Triathlon. She crossed the finish line in 2:09.02 to beat out more than a hundred other women entered in the competition.

Debonis, 37, overcame defending women's champion Heather Petroff halfway through the running portion of the race.

“I passed Heather with four miles to go and I pretty much kept the lead for the rest of the race,” Debonis said.

Everything played out just as the eventual women's overall winner had planned it. Debonis, a marathon runner, anticipated winning the race would require a strong push through the running portion of the competition.

“I was probably six or seven back when I started running, but because I'm a runner I was able to chase everybody down,” she said.

Petroff, 30, pursuing her second straight Sylvania Triathlon title, said she knew it would probably come down to her and Debonis. She also believed she would probably need a sizable lead heading into the six-mile run for a chance at repeating as the women's winner.

“Jeanne came right up on me on mile four,” Petroff recalled. “I tried to hold her off as long as I could, but she's a great runner.”

The defending overall men's champion, Kip Brady, was not among the field vying for the title. Considering Lewis' effort, Brady may have had his hands full.

“This is my first overall win,” Lewis said. “I've won my age group before, so I'm really excited about this.”

The masters winners (40-and-older) were Gregg Slayton, 40, of Centerville, Ohio, and Karen McKeachie, 49, of Ann Arbor. Slayton finished the race in 2:05.37 while McKeachie crossed the finish line in 2:16.17.

A shorter triathlon and a duathlon (running, biking) also took place.

Paul Furniss, 35, of Angola, Ind., won the men's short-distance triathlon while Colleen Park, 22, of Saline, Mich., took first-place in the women's competition. Furniss completed the course in 58:51 and Park followed at 1:07.09. Park prevailed in spite of being forced to ride the final seven miles of the bike portion of the event on a flat tire. The shorter triathlon involved a 500-meter swim, a 13-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.

The duathlon winners were Rick Kattouf, 31, of Warren, Ohio and Linda Boring, 37, of Maryland. Kattouf set a course record for the event that involved only running and biking with his time of 1:49.21. Boring won with a time of 2:04.24.



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