Pompelia rallies on land to win Gator Bait triathlon

Published 12:20 am Sunday, August 23, 2015

After the aquatic portion of the Gator Bait Endurance Challenge, Tyson Pompelia looked like a turtle. On land, he turned into a rabbit no one could catch up to.

Pompelia posted the second-fastest time in the bike portion of the Olympic distance triathlon and the fastest split in the 10K run to chase down leader Alex Treiger, and won the race at Eagle Lake by four seconds Saturday morning.

Pompelia was in eighth place after the opening 1.5-kilometer swim, but made up ground by covering the 40 kilometers on the bike in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 50.6 seconds — the second-fastest time among the 45 male competitors.

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Pompelia, a Meridian resident, then dusted the field by covering the 10 kilometers on foot in 41 minutes and 41 seconds. That was 40 seconds better than the next-best time, and more than three minutes better than Treiger. Pompelia finished the race with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 48.7 seconds. Treiger crossed the finish line in 2:16:52.1, Madison’s Joey Lee was third in 2:17:20.1, and Vicksburg’s Joe Giambrone was fourth in 2:19:24.9.

The women’s Olympic distance triathlon had no such drama. Madison’s Casey Lee was first out of the water by more than three minutes, and cruised to an easy victory over Vicksburg’s Lisa Burkhalter.

Lee finished in 2:37:44.8, while Burkhalter crossed the line in 2:45:50.1. Brandy Maulden of Wiggins was third, in 2:46:39.3.

The Olympic triathlon was the longest of five separate races that comprised the Gator Bait Endurance Challenge. The event included a shorter sprint distance triathlon and three open water swims covering a quarter-, half- and one mile. Nearly 200 people competed in the various events.

Jeff Fejfar of Olive Branch won the men’s sprint triathlon with a time of 1:30:49.7, eight minutes ahead of second-place John Pat Bullock of Shreveport. A pair of Vicksburg residents, Bobby Thomas and Kevin Barry, finished third and fourth, respectively.

Louise Smyth of Shreveport won the women’s sprint triathlon with a time of 1:39:10.8. Madison’s Rhonda Sawaya was second with a time of 2:03:53.7, and West Monroe’s Amanda Daniel third in 2:04:24.8.

Madison’s Jack Smithson and Brandon’s Autumn Dehuff won the men’s and women’s one-mile open water swim. Megan Heggie of Meridian won the half-mile open water swim, and the quarter-mile winners were Brandon’s Audrey Capton (open division), Cori Ely of Madison (masters) and Bree Butler of Vicksburg (12-and-under).