Grain Valley’s Wyatt Huffman receiving his first place trophy for the age 10 division at the Hy-Vee Iron Kids Triathlon in Omaha, Nebraska on June 1. Photo Submitted | THE POINTE
Most kids like to make a big splash purely for fun in the summertime, but Prairie Branch fifth grader Wyatt Huffman of Grain Valley is in the water for competitive purposes.
He is currently training and competing with the Blue Springs Dolphins in order to get in shape for the swim portion of a sport he has a passion for- the triathlon.
On Father’s Day weekend, Wyatt competed locally in this event at the First Annual Blue Springs Triathlon put on by the Blue Springs Parks and Recreation Department. Wyatt finished in second place overall, and placed second in his age group. He had to swim 100 meters, bike two miles, and finished with a two-mile run.
“I am glad that Blue Springs is raising awareness of triathlons, and would love to see more athletes in Grain Valley get into this race,” said Wyatt’s dad, Scott.
Wyatt has competed in several triathlons, but he really liked the Blue Springs event.
“It was fun. I love all the triathlons that I have been in, but some are easier than others, and this was an easy one since other triathlons make you go further,” said Wyatt.
Earlier in June, Wyatt traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to compete in the Hy-Vee Iron Kids Triathlon. Placing in the top five qualifies athletes for the national competition in Des Moines, Iowa on September 1. Wyatt finished at the Omaha triathlon in the time of 21:24 and was fifth overall. He also finished in first place in his age division.
His family has encouraged Wyatt all along the way. In fact, it was a suggestion by his grandmother that got Wyatt started in the first place.
“My grandma told my dad about kids’ triathlons, and my dad asked me what I thought about trying one out,” said Wyatt, “I said, ‘sure’.”
The amount of time his family invests in this sport shows their willingness to give him the encouragement; as well as the tools, to succeed.
With the Dolphin swim team, Wyatt travels early in the morning for practice at the Centennial Pool near Blue Springs High School. He also travels to compete in swim meets.
On June 18, Wyatt placed first in his age group in the 50-meter freestyle and the 50-meter backstroke at a swim meet in Lee’s Summit.
“Right now, he is really into swimming. At six in the morning, he jumps out of bed. He takes it seriously and works hard at it,” said Scott.
It helps that he also loves swimming.
“I have a pool in my backyard, so the most fun I have training is doing the swimming,” Wyatt said.
He also is training hard to improve his running, having joined the Eastern Jackson County Track Club this summer to help with his stamina. On top of rising early to train with his swim club, Wyatt trains on Monday nights with the track club and competes in meets that are usually held on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The running part of the triathlon is not Wyatt’s favorite, so Scott is hoping that by joining a club, Wyatt will become more enthused about doing mileage. He is also hoping Wyatt will grow to love being in a track club like Scott did as a kid.
“I wanted to get my kids interested in a club, because I enjoyed being in one so much,” said Scott. When he was eleven, he joined the Independence Track Club.
“I remember going to Nationals and getting three medals,” hr said.
Scott not only ran in a track club, but at Truman High School, he participated in football, basketball, and track. While basketball was his best sport, he went to state in the high jump in 1984. He jumped 6’6” in the event, breaking the school record at that time.
Wyatt’s athletic ability and drive to do well in sports comes from both his parents’ athleticism. His love of swimming comes from his mom, Tracy, who was a swimmer, volleyball player, and basketball player at Fort Osage High School.
Both parents are still into exercising. Tracy plays on an adult volleyball team. Scott likes to work out by mountain biking.
Wyatt a natural on the bike.
“He does not train too much on the bike, but when he does, he rides with Team Sho-Air in Kansas. I have a friend who trains him,” Scott said.
Training for a triathlon takes time and dedication from both the child athlete and their parents. It also takes a healthy understanding from the parent that their child must be the one to pursue a competitive sport. Scott gets this.
“I think what makes me most proud of Wyatt is his confidence he gets while competing,” his dad said. “He is so calm and cool on the day of competition. He also enjoys doing it.”
“The only reason I do this is because I like having fun and triathlons are fun,” said Wyatt.
Scott also likes that his son is very competitive and focused on pushing himself to be better. Wyatt and his parents hope the various training will make him better for the September 1 national triathlon.
“I want to place first,” said Wyatt.
By Sarah Earley | The Pointe Staff