By Adam Turer, Enquirer contributor
St. Xavier High School’s triathlon team grew from an idea, to a vision, to a club, to a national championship in less than four years.
The Bombers claimed the 2019 independent club high school national championship on April 5 in Tempe, Arizona. This was the first year such a division existed, and St. Xavier can forever claim its title as the first even independent high school national champions.
“They started announcing teams and the next thing you know, we heard our name and it was immediate euphoria. It was pretty cool,” said Jim Murphy Jr., the program’s founder and director.
Many of the top teams competing on the national stage are regional clubs, not confined to one high school. Even against such top-tier programs casting a far wider net, the Bombers held their own.
“We also finished third in the country against the elite regional teams, which was shocking,” said Murphy. “They appreciate the fact that collectively as a team they were able to go up against the big boys.”
Ohio is not thought of as a triathlon hotbed, but there is no better time to be a triathlete in the Midwest. This year will be the ninth in a row that USA Triathlon holds its Youth & Junior National Championships in West Chester, in August. The Ohio State age group and high school championship is in Columbus in July. The USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships will be in Cleveland for the second straight year in 2019.
The passion for the sport continues to grow locally. While the Bombers are the only high school team in the area, there has been interest at St. Ursula, Sycamore, Indian Hill, and Wyoming.
“We worked closely with USA Triathlon as they launched this (high school) program. We wanted to do it the right way and make a blueprint so that other schools in the GCL or in public school districts could start their own. Someone has to have that passion to get it off the ground,” Murphy said. “As we put the word out, we found parents who were triathletes, kids who had some interest, and it really has just gone from there.