No one really knew where to set expectations for the La Cañada High club triathlon team in its inaugural year.
Michael and David Belcher, senior 17-year old twins at La Cañada, founded the club in January and brought four years of triathlon experience, having competed in more than 100 races, to a team filled with newcomers in seniors Buckley Miller, Max Sivietsen, Brad Cavanagh, sophomore Emory Chesley and freshmen Anastasi Menemenlism and Fiona Chesley.
Whatever expectations were, they were outdone when the team, after a four-race season, clinched the Southwest High School Triathlon Conference's Division II Southern California Championship in the conference's first year on March 24 and competed in the Southwest Regional Championship, which includes California, Nevada and Arizona, on March 31.
"We really exceeded expectations and you know you're kind of shocked when you win a Southern California Championship," said John Belcher, the team's coach and father of Michael and David. "I don't think anyone ever thought that would happen, because it was an inaugural year we didn't know what the completion would be like."
Triathlon is an Olympic sport that consists of open-water swimming, followed by biking and running. The Southwest Regional Championship included a half-mile swim in the Santa Barbara channel, a stair climb, a 16-mile bike ride and 5K run.
John Belcher was most impressed with how everyone on the team finished every race they started.
"It's not a sport like baseball where you can pick up a glove and walk out and do it," he said. "There's so many nuances to it all."
La Cañada won the Division II title at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo convincingly, sweeping the top-three spots as David Belcher finished first in one hour 16 minutes and 42.9 seconds, Michael Belcher came in second at 1:18:34.5 and Emory Chesley clocked in at third place with a time of 1:29:39.9.
David Belcher took first again in the Southwest Regional, also winning the 19-and-under male division at UC Santa Barbara in 1:20:14. Michael Belcher took third in 1:22:16 and Emory Chesley took fourth by less than a second in a dramatic sprint to the finish.
Now that La Cañada has set the bar, the team will look to maintain that standard in the years to come.
"I'm so proud of the first timers and the courage they showed to brave those open-water swims," David said. "Even though we are graduating five seniors on the team, I know that the team will compete and grow in the years to come."