- Sage Ridge Spotlight
At 13 years old, Scorpion Rhys Ferrito is one of the best triathletes in the world.
On Aug. 6 the Sage Ridge eighth-grader placed first in the U.S. and second overall at the 2023 U.S. Youth Triathlon Championship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the Boys “13 and Under” non-draft category.
After his 300-meter swim, Rhys claimed the national title in an exciting bike ride to the end, passing the boys in the leading group. The competition consisted of a 2.5-kilometer run, a 300-meter swim, and a 10-kilometer bike ride.
The sacrifice, commitment and courage needed to tackle a triathlon isn’t new to Rhys.
"Can’t put into words how happy we are after he dedicated his whole summer to training, including almost a month in Park City, Utah to train at high elevation above 7,500 feet,” Rhys’ father Robbie Ferrito said. “I looked at the calendar and for the 60 days from June 1 to July 31, Rhys trained for 58 days, at least twice a day, and had two days off.”
And with the Scorpion’s dedication to the sport, winning isn’t new to Rhys either.
In 2022, Rhys placed third at Nationals, and in 2021, he placed seventh. He also won the California State Championships in April 2023 and qualified for cross-country nationals at 9 and 10 years old.
His Middle School cross-country season is starting on a high note, too. On Friday, Rhys added first place at the North Tahoe Kiwanis Mountain Motivational Invitational to his list of achievements. He ran 1.94 miles with a time of 12:41.
Rhys trains because he loves it.
"I think triathlon is fun because there is a lot of cross-training,” Rhys said. “And it was fun to go to Milwaukee. Lake Michigan felt like an ocean!”
No matter the result, Rhys’ parents are supportive and encouraging. Robbie Ferrito knows that training doesn’t mean victory.
"There are lots of moving parts in a triathlon. One little thing goes wrong–even the mechanics of the bike–it’s over,” Robbie Ferrito said. “I’m going to have a big smile on my face for the next 12 months.”
Even with the year-round training, Rhys finds time for other 13-year-old things like hanging out with his friends, reading, and writing. He recently started mountain biking.
When asked by NSN reporter Nikki Pica if things like reading and writing are an escape from training, he didn’t hesitate in his response.
"I don’t think of it that way,” Rhys said. “I don’t need to escape.”