Cleveland Rock and Roll Win 2018 MLT Championship
The Cleveland Rock and Roll won the 4th and final event of the Major League Triathlon season in front of a large hometown crowd. The Major League Triathlon Cleveland event served as the leagues Championship venue for the 2017 season. The Rock and Roll led the standings heading into the Championship event, but the Colorado Peaks, Sarasota Sun and Indy Cats were all in hot pursuit.
Cleveland native, AJ Baucco, led off for the Rock and Roll. Baucco lined up for the first wave against John O’Neill (Colorado Peaks), Martin Sobey (Indy Cats), Michael Arishita (Sarasota) and 4 other extremely talented MLT pros. Michael Arishita led out of the water and was first out onto the bike. Arishita pushed had from the beginning, but a group of 6 MLT pros came together and worked to catch Arishita. While it looked as if the strong pack including O’Neill, Webster (PR Islanders), Schafer (AC Waves), Sobey and Baucco would catch Arishita, he managed to stay away and come into T2 with a 10 second lead on the main pack. Arishita held strong for the first lap, however, Walter Schafer of the AC Waves and Robby Webster of the Puerto Rico Islanders were able to close the gap. Webster made the tag first followed close behind by Arishita, Schafer, O’Neill, Baucco, Sobey, and Tomin.
Chelsea Burns (PR Islanders) and Domnika Jamnicky (Colorado Peaks) had fantastic swims and came out of the water together. Jamnicky and Burns worked well together and managed to put time into the rest of the pack. Sarah Alexander (Cleveland) had a fantastic swim and after a great bike ride, moved the Rock and Roll into 3rd place. After a great run, Chelsea Burns handed off to Dan Feeney with a 5 second lead on Jamnicky (handing off to Alex Libin) and nearly 30 seconds on the 3rd place Rock and Roll.
Dan Feeney emerged from the swim first, but Alex Libin (Colorado Peaks) outsprinted Feeney through the arch and led the way into transition. Kevin McDowell (Rock and Roll) took back nearly 30 seconds on the swim. The three athletes came into the T2 together. It appeared as if Libin, McDowell and Feeney would work together, but Libin and McDowell managed to pull away from Feeney after the first lap and eventually Libin pulled away from McDowell. Meanwhile, Michael Lori (Sarasota Sun), John Rasmussen (Carolina Gliders) and Jason West (AC Waves) were pushing hard to catch the leaders. Libin finished the bike leg first with 7 seconds on McDowell and 25 seconds on Feeney. McDowell eventually took over the lead and handed off with a 15 second lead on Alex Libin, followed by Jason West.
Lindsey Jerdonek (Rock and Roll) didn’t waste anytime posting an incredibly fast swim. Jerdonek displayed incredible form as she tore up the Cleveland bike course further increasing her lead. Meanwhile, Brittany Warly (Colorado Peaks), Sonja Kent (AC Waves), Erin Storie (Carolina Gliders), Laurin Thorne (PR Islanders) and Kaitlin Donner (Sarasota Sun) were all pushing hard trying to close the gap. Jerdonek came off the bike with a commanding lead with just 1 mile to run. Warly, Donner and Kent followed behind, all vying for a spot on the podium. While she had a comfortable lead, Jerdonek did not slow down, further extending her lead. Jerdonek came down the finish shoot and raised the MLT finish tape, taking the win and the League Championship Title. Brittany Warly managed to hold off a hard charging Kaitlin Donner to hold onto 2nd Place for the race and for the league overall standings. Kaitlin Donner’s gutsy performance solidified the Sun’s 3rd place overall in the MLT league standings.
“Congratulations to the Cleveland Rock and Roll for a great season” Said Daniel Cassidy, Chief Executive Officer of MLT. “We had a fantastic season and we are extremely thankful to have such a great group of athletes, fans, sponsors and cities supporting Major League Triathlon. We will be back and bigger than ever in 2018.”