USA Triathlon, Challenged Athletes Foundation Name Five Members of Inaugural Junior Paratriathlon Development Program

April 13, 2020

Collaborative partnership provides grant funding, coaching guidance for promising young athletes

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— USA Triathlon and the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) today announced the five members of their inaugural Junior Paratriathlon Development Program, a first-of-its-kind collaboration designed to support aspiring young paratriathletes ages 12-17 with grant funding, coaching guidance, apparel and other development resources.

The five athletes selected for the inaugural program are: Owen Cravens (Algonquin, Ill.), Isabelle Hogness (Fargo N.D.), Brock Kitterman (Bethel Park, Pa.), Emma Meyers (Tacoma, Wash.), and Jack O’Neil (Colorado Springs, Colo.).

The program, which runs for the duration of 2020, aims to identify talent, provide assistance and encourage passion for the sport of triathlon in aspiring junior paratriathletes. The accepted athletes will each receive a CAF travel grant to be used for select triathlon races and training camps.

Athletes will also have access to training support and advice from Christine Palmquist, a USA Triathlon Level III, Youth & Junior and Paratriathlon-certified coach. Palmquist was named USA Triathlon’s 2019 Developmental Coach of the Year and 2017 Paratriathlon Coach of the Year.

In addition, the five athletes will be recognized on usatriathlon.org and challengedathletes.org, and outfitted with USA Triathlon and CAF-branded equipment and apparel.

The athletes selected for the program will have the opportunity to participate in key junior paratriathlon events during the 2020 season, including the USA Triathlon/Challenged Athletes Foundation Youth Paratriathlon Camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior Nationals in West Chester, Ohio; and an optional event of each athlete’s choosing within the 2020 calendar year.

Note: The status of all events is contingent upon guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and government mandates related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“USA Triathlon is proud to partner with CAF to recognize and support Owen, Isabelle, Brock, Emma and Jack in reaching their paratriathlon goals,” said Amanda Duke Boulet, Paralympic Program Director at USA Triathlon. “Each of these young athletes shows long-term competitive potential — and, just as importantly, demonstrates the values we champion here at USA Triathlon such as integrity, commitment and sportsmanship. I look forward to watching these athletes progress and accomplish amazing things once the racing season is able to resume again.”

“The Challenged Athletes Foundation is excited to partner with USA Triathlon to create and support the first-ever Junior Paratriathlon Development Program,” said Travis Ricks, Director of Programs at CAF. “These five young men and women are some of the best up-and-coming athletes in the sport, and we look forward to supporting their growth as they train and compete over the next year.”

Owen Cravens (Algonquin, Ill.), Age 16

Cravens is a junior at Huntley High School in Huntley, Illinois, where he competes in cross country and track and field. He is currently an elite triathlete on the ITU circuit, and he also competes in U.S. Paralympics track and field and Nordic skiing events. In his free time, Cravens enjoys spending time with friends and playing video games and basketball. He also enjoys giving motivational speeches to elementary students. He is considering several colleges in the west and southwest where he can pursue a major in the athletic field such as sports management, sports therapy or sport psychology. His goal is to someday represent the U.S. at the Paralympic Games.

Isabelle Hogness (Fargo, N.D.), Age 12

Hogness has leg, ankle and foot paralysis, and she loves to compete in triathlons, swimming and track and field. She has competed at the Adaptive Sports USA Junior Nationals for the past two summers. Over the last year, Hogness and her parents worked together with her school and the state of North Dakota to help create a wheelchair track and field division. She also competed on her high school swim team for the first time during the 2019 season.

 Brock Kitterman (Bethel Park, Pa.), Age 15

Kitterman completed his first triathlon at age 7 and has now participated in more than 70 triathlons. At the 2019 USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships, he earned the paratriathlon open national title. He has taken part in paratriathlon camps through USA Triathlon at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and through the Challenged Athletes Foundation. He aspires to someday represent the United States at the Paralympic Games. When he is not training and participating in triathlons, Kitterman enjoys playing blind ice hockey, camping and reading.

Emma Meyers (Tacoma, Wash.), Age 13

Meyers is a below-the-knee amputee who loves to compete in triathlons and running races. In addition, she has competed at the U.S. Paralympics Para Swimming National Championships for the last three years. Meyers is the student council president at her middle school in Tacoma, Washington, and also competes on her school’s cross country team.

 Jack O’Neil (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Age 17

O’Neil is an above-the-knee amputee who was introduced to the sport of triathlon when he was 10 years old. Over the last six years, he has competed at the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships, High School National Championships and Paratriathlon National Championships. O’Neil participated in his first elite International Triathlon Union paratriathlon competition at age 16. The highlight of his triathlon career to date was his second-place finish at the 2019 Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships in Long Beach, California. O’Neil’s goal for the future is to pursue elite paratriathlon competition on the ITU World Triathlon circuit.

To learn more about USA Paratriathlon, including development pathways for aspiring elite paratriathletes, visit usaparatriathlon.org. For questions regarding the junior paratriathlon development program, contact Gavin Shulock at gavin.shulock@usatriathlon.org.

About USA Triathlon

USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

About the Challenged Athletes Foundation

The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is a world leader in helping people with physical challenges lead active, healthy lifestyles. CAF believes that participation in physical activity at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.  Since 1994, more than $112 million has been raised and over 26,000 funding requests from people with physical challenges in all 50 states and dozens of countries have been satisfied. Additionally, CAF’s outreach efforts impact another 60,000 individuals each year. Whether it’s a $2,500 grant for a handcycle, helping underwrite a carbon fiber running foot not covered by insurance, or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar challenge, CAF’s mission is clear: give opportunities and support to those with the desire to live active, athletic lifestyles. To learn more, visit challengedathletes.org or call 858-866-0959.