LORAIN — Grafton’s Aaron Henely hung on for dear life to defeat Jason Zangmeister of Fairview Park by 2.2 seconds Sunday at the 27th annual North Coast Nautilus Summer Triathlon.
The 36-year-old Henely clocked one hour, one minute and 20.9 seconds for the 0.25-mile swim, 14.3-mile bike and 5K run, which started and finished at Lakeview Park. Zangmeister, 27, finished in 1:01:23.1. Grafton masters Michael Schaefer, 40, was third (1:02:13.7).
Henely led Zangmeister by approximately 2½ minutes heading into the run. Zangmeister had sliced the advantage to 45 seconds halfway through the run.
“The bike was heck going out (west on Erie Avenue). You’re totally redlining in that headwind,” said Henely, a 1995 Elyria Catholic graduate. “You had the tailwind on the way back. You’re flying, but you don’t know if you’re pushing hard enough. Obviously, you go as hard as you can but you don’t know if it’s hard enough. You want to save something for the run.”
Henely defeated Zangmeister by 16 seconds June 23 at the Huntington I Triathlon as they finished sixth and seventh.
“I didn’t see anyone behind me heading into the run, but I knew Jason was hot on my tail,” Henely said. “He’s notorious for a fast run. If you don’t see anyone at the start of the run, you know that it’s just a matter of time before he’s coming.”
It was no mystery Sunday’s finish was close, but neither likely imagined it to be this close.
“I had maybe only 10 seconds on Jason when he got back to Lakeview Beach, which was way closer than I thought it would be,” Henely said. “It was basically a sprint from there. I kept looking over my shoulder. He was closing faster and faster. I knew it was going to be a drag race right to the end.”
“That’s what you come here for. It’s fun. It’s no fun when someone wins by 10 minutes. That’s probably the best finish I’ve ever had in terms of shooting it out with someone.”
Last year, Henely was second (1:02:47.1) and Zangmeister sixth (1:04:16.8) behind winner Ian Sly (1:00:09.5).
On Sunday, Henely caught Zangmeister halfway through the cycling phase, which was on Baumhart Road just north of state Route 2.
“I knew my extra weight and muscle with the tailwind, I could pound it a lot faster than he can,” Henely said. “It was a great day with the weather. The Weather Channel was trying to scare us yesterday. Today turned out to be beautiful.”
It was Henely’s second win in two years. He won the Findley Lake Triathlon in Wellington in August.
“I could see Aaron way far ahead in the distance when I started the run,” Zangmeister said. “I slowly reeled him in. It’s a nice out-and-back course. He had just enough to gun and keep his spot at the end.”
Zangmeister matched his highest finish. He finished second behind Schaefer by 43 seconds at the 2010 Findley Lake Triathlon.
“Today was definitely one to remember,” said Zangmeister, who is preparing for age-group nationals Aug. 18 in Milwaukee.
It was also a great day for Schaefer, who started in the second wave (40 and older) for the first time.
“It was a PR by 80-90 seconds,” said Schaefer, a 1990 Midview graduate. “That was good considering the wind. It was a little cooler today, which helps. Waves in the swim were tough, especially outside the breakwall. The swim was 20 seconds slower but my bike was 90 seconds faster. It was kind of lonely on the run. I had nobody to chase.”
Berea’s Paula Anthony, 28, was the women’s champ. She led the entire way.
“It was a little windy but otherwise a perfect day,” said Anthony, who chalked up her first career win in four years of racing. “My family was here to watch. They kept me informed throughout regarding my race status.”
Results for the second- and third-place finishers for the women were unresolved Sunday night due to technical problems relating to the timing software. A total of 118 athletes competed, including in the duathlon.
0.25-mile swim, 14.3-mile bike, 5K run
Aaron Henely, age 36 (Grafton), 1:01:20.9; 2. Jason Zangmeister, 27 (Fairview Park), 1:01:23.1; 3. Michael Schaefer, 40 (Grafton), 1:02:13.7.
1. Paula Anthony, 28 (Berea), 1:09:41.5
5K run, 14.3-mile bike, 5K run
1. Mike Baird, 1:12:34.4; 2. Mike Mayer, 36, 1:22:21.2; 3. Jordan Reynolds (Amherst), 18, 1:23:01.9.
1. Stacy Wicinski (Cleveland); 2. Shannon Terlecky (Avon Lake)
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or email@example.com.