LIMA – For former Bath multi-sport athlete John Simindinger, competing at the Lima YMCA/Kewpee Triathlon is a relatively new experience.
In high school, Simindinger was a standout in basketball, baseball and cross country.
Simindinger, now 22 years old, has always been a competitive athlete.
So, after a solid sixth-place finish at last year’s Kewpee Triathlon, Simindinger’s competitive instinct took over this year as he pulled away from last year’s winner Derek Kuhlman on the 5-kilometer run portion of the race, to win his first Kewpee title in a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 31 seconds at Ottawa Metro Park. Kuhlman’s time was 1:10.14. Dan Brinkman, 39, came in third (1:10.56).
On the women’s side, Jamie Kuhlman – the sister of Derek Kuhlman – took control of the race early and went on to record her third title at the Lima YMCA/Kewpee Triathlon in 1:16.43. Kristen Huener Henny, 36, finished second (1:18.13). Leah Long, 47, was third (1:20.20).
The Kewpee Triathlon consists of a 500-yard swim, a 15-mile bike and a 5-kilometer run. There also was a duathlon that ran simultaneously with the triathlon. The duathlon was comprised of a 2-mile run, 15-mile bike and a 5K run.
In the men’s triathlon, Simindinger headed into the final transition of the race (bike to run) with about a 10-second lead over Kuhlman.
However, Kuhlman made up the gap during the transition and headed out into the 5K race alongside with Simindinger.
“He actually ran away from me a little bit at the start,” Simindinger said. “I was worried he was going to run away from me, but I was able to hang in there.
“I got about a mile in and it looked like he was getting a little tired. That’s when I made the pass. It was pretty close until about the turnaround. Then I kind of lengthened it out a little bit.”
Simindinger, who is a senior biology and pre-med major at Wright State University, wasn’t sure where he was sitting until later in the race.
“I didn’t realize I was in first until I got back to the transition (bike to run); then somebody told me,” Simindinger said. “I thought there was somebody way out in front of us. I knew he (Kuhlman) won it last year. So, when he caught me on the bike, I knew I had to go with him and give myself a chance on the run.”
Kuhlman, a 17-year-old senior at Shawnee, competes in cross country, wrestling and track. Kuhlman knew he had a chance of winning as they headed out for the run portion of the race.
“When we were in the transition, I knew he had to change his shoes out yet,” Kuhlman said. “So, I knew I could make up time in the transition. Then, when we started running, we were pretty much with each other.”
In the women’s race, Jamie Kuhlman was pretty much in control of the entire race.
The 19-year-old Kuhlman, a Shawnee graduate and now a sophomore at Ohio State, competes on the rowing team at OSU as a novice.
Kuhlman admitted that a great deal of her time this past spring was spent on training for the rowing team and not so much for competing in a triathlon.
However, Kuhlman was pleased at how she performed Sunday.
“I definitely did better on the bike,” she said. “My time improved on the bike. My dad got me a new bike. …So, that took a lot of time off. My run was significantly slower, but I’ll chalk it all up to the bike.”
Derek and Jamie were not the only two Kuhlman’s that competed at Sunday’s Kewpee. Their father and mother, Kurt (51) and Julie (49), along with siblings Kylie (15), Josh (13) and Amanda (21) all competed in Sunday’s triathlon.
The overall duathlon winner was Ottoville native Andrew Eickholt. The 29-year-old Eickholt won in a time of 1:15.45. Dan Vining was second in 1:16.10.
Eickholt now lives in Knoxville, Tennesse, where he is an engineer for Marathon Petroleum. This year was Eickholt’s first time competing in the Kewpee. He has done a few other races back home.
“A couple guys started out really fast at the beginning,” Eickholt said about Sunday’s race. “I had to fight my instincts and not chase them. I decided to run my pace. I had a pretty decent bike and then I was able to hang on to the lead.”
Brenda Herron, 51, won the women’s duathlon in 1:33.20. Jenny Blaine, 37, was second (1:37.07).