Lees repeat as Gator Bait champs

Published 12:32 am Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Gator Bait Triathlon had a new date this year, but the same old faces atop the podium.

Joey Lee won the overall championship in the Gator Bait’s Olympic distance triathlon, and his wife Casey Lee was the women’s winner as the couple repeated as champions in the event at Eagle Lake.

Joey Lee completed the 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 5-kilometer run in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 2 seconds. He beat runner-up Trevor Galicki by a minute to win the Gator Bait title for the second year in a row and third time in four years.

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Bryan Chase was third and Vicksburg resident Joe Giambrone fourth. They were three and five minutes behind Lee, respectively.

Casey Lee continued her dominance of the Gator Bait’s female division. She finished fifth overall, with a time of 2:31:28, for her third consecutive women’s championship.

Casey Lee has finished first or second five times in the past six years. The only year she wasn’t in the top two was 2013, when she did not compete.

The runner-up in the women’s division was Bridget Schwenne, a 27-year-old from Genesee, Idaho. Her time was 2:49:49.

The first eight editions of the Gator Bait had been held in August, but the event moved to May this time around. It hardly mattered to the Lees, who seem to be up front no matter the time of year.

Both Lees came out of the swim within five seconds of each other, but both were also well behind first-stage leader Adam Eckstein. The 15-year-old is a member of the Vicksburg Swim Association and aced the open water swim portion of the race in 25:01.

Eckstein started the bike stage with a 1 minute, 46 second lead on Joey Lee but couldn’t hold it. He completed the 40 kilometers on the bike in 1 hour, 28 minutes and 57 seconds while Lee did it in 1:03:36.

Eckstein rebounded with a solid run of 47:52 and finished seventh overall out of 30 competitors.

Galicki gained 26 seconds on Lee during the bike stage and 3 1/2 minutes in the run, but couldn’t overcome a weak showing in the swim. Galicki, an 18-year-old from Jackson, came out of the water nearly four minutes behind Lee for the second-slowest time among the top seven competitors.

Galicki finished second for the second consecutive year.

Lee also had the fastest transition times between stages of any competitor, with a cumulative time of 1 minute, 31 seconds in the two areas. The second-fastest time was Giambrone, at 2 minutes even.

In the shorter sprint distance triathlon — a one-third mile swim, 14-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run — Clinton’s Mandy Lynskey won the women’s and overall championship with a total time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 38 seconds.

That was 40 seconds ahead of men’s winner Chip Fields of Vicksburg, who finished in 1:14:18. Evan Rogers was third, with a time of 1:14:38, and Brady Clark was another four minutes back in fourth.
Fields actually had faster stage splits than Lynskey, but was 90 seconds slower on the transitions between stages.