Triathlon experience invaluable to South Fayette 3-sport athlete Hailey Poe

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Thursday, September 5, 2019 | 5:43 PM


South Fayette senior Hailey Poe expects to be a better high school athlete after competing on an international stage this summer.

Poe, 17, was a part of Team USA at the International Triathlon Union Age Group Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Poe (1:13:52) placed 16th in the 16-19 Female Age Group Sprint. Her time included a 750-meter swim (11:54), 20K bike ride (36:33) and 5K run ( 21:23).

“This experience will help push (me) to achieve my goals for cross country, swimming and track and field,” said Poe, who began entering triathlons as a 7-year-old. “Being part of something that is bigger than you, like Team USA, makes you realize how important the support of your teammates is to your success.

“The race taught me to build on new experiences and be in the moment to enjoy them.”

Poe said it was rewarding holding and waving an American flag she was handed on the home stretch.

Poe qualified at last year’s USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, where she placed seventh.

“At this point, running is probably my best sport,” said Poe, who placed fourth in the WPIAL Class AA girls cross country championship meet last season and led South Fayette to the WPIAL title. “I have a great passion for cross country and my team inspires me so much every day.

“Working with the girls on my cross country team has really pushed me over the edge and allowed me to become the runner that I am today. This has really carried into triathlons for me.”

South Fayette cross country coach Joe Winans said Poe is one of the most focused student-athletes he has worked with.

“She brings a passion for the sport that is infectious,” Winans said. “Competing on behalf of her country has provided her with an even greater sense of team.

“You get a clear sense of joy from her when she sees her friends and teammates being successful.”

Poe does not belong to a triathlon club and trains for each leg separately.

“During the school year, I compete in the varsity seasons of cross country, swimming and track,” said Poe, whose mother, Lori Poe, is Chartiers Valley’s cross country and track and field coach. “I also swam year-round with Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics and biked with (a) cycling group.

“I took dance lessons during the school year, which help a lot with flexibility and injury prevention. Over the summer, I practice two to three events each day, but also made sure to have rest and recovery days.”

John Nemeth, Hailey’s coach with Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics, said more swimmers are looking into triathlons, which he said is a good thing, especially at the age-group level.

“Just allowing kids to develop motor skills differently and branch out away from the water a bit helps create more rounded athletes,” Nemeth said.

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