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Examiner
  • Grain Valley boy excelling at triathlons

  • Wyatt Huffman has a room full of first-place awards from his short, but highly successful triathlon career, but the one he is most proud of was placed around his neck last weekend at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan.

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  • Wyatt Huffman has a room full of first-place awards from his short, but highly successful triathlon career, but the one he is most proud of was placed around his neck last weekend at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan.
    He was on his way to a first-place medal when he crashed his bike, and then rode an extra lap when volunteers pointed him in the wrong direction.
    “You should have seen him after all that happened,” said Wyatt’s mom, Tracy. “He was so determined. It was almost like what happened earlier in the season at Lawrence (Kan.), when the chain came off his bike. It just seemed to make him compete that much harder and he finished in third place.”
    Wyatt, 10, grins when asked about the two mishaps now, but he wasn’t smiling when they happened.
    “You know how the big guys carry their bikes, then kind of run and jump on them?” asked Wyatt, who will be a sixth grader at Grain Valley North Middle School. “That’s what I was trying to do when I crashed.
    “Then I went about an extra lap, I think, and I was way behind. But I pretty much caught up and did all right. At least I got a second-place medal. I’m proud of it.
    “When my chain came off my bike in Lawrence, I was like, ‘Dad!’ He was there watching me and he fixed it. I was so mad it came off, but I was happy he was there to fix it.”
    Wyatt began competing in triathlons two years ago, and had immediate success, representing the metro area at a national event.
    He had to cut back on the number of triathlon events last year after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his ear drum.
    Now, he’s back and ready to go.
    “I think I should have had two firsts, but I didn’t because of all the things that happened, but that just makes me want to train harder and work harder because I don’t like to lose,” he said.
    Tracy shook her head in agreement on that comment.
    “I think one reason he does so well with the swimming and triathlons is because it’s all on him,” she said. “He’s calm and collected before he competes, while (my husband) Scott and I are nervous wrecks. You can see him working out there and he just loves to compete.
    “He doesn’t want anyone blocking for him or passing him the ball. He wants it all on his shoulders.”
    The Huffman parents were athletic – Tracy was a swimmer, even though Fort Osage does not have a swimming program, and Scott was one of the top basketball players in the history of Truman High School.
    Page 2 of 2 - Their daughter, Avery, 9, approaches gymnastics with the same determination as Wyatt, although she also enjoys playing softball for the Lightning.
    She recently competed in a national gymnastics event and won the vault, was third on the bars and was fifth all-around in the 18-girl field.
    This past weekend, she cracked four home runs, including two grand slams, for the Lightning.
    “I like softball, and I love gymnastics,” said Avery, who will be a fourth grader at Prairie Branch Elementary School. “Gymnastics is fun. I like to be out there competing against other girls. But I also like to play softball, too. I just like to have fun.”
    And they both enjoy filling their rooms with medals and trophies.
    “I like the big ones,” said a grinning Wyatt, who has an Iron Kids championship trophy that is as large as a dinner plate. “We both have some cool trophies.”
    Like so many youngsters who are involved in sports, the Huffmans keep busy during the week.
    “We have a game or practice every night,” Tracy said, “but we love it. We want the kids to do what they love and Scott and I are so proud of them. Whatever they want to do, we’ll be there to support them.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
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