By Scott Bernarde

scottbernarde@reporternespapers.net

Devon Dabney has taken to triathlons like she has in most of the athletic endeavors in her young life.

The 14-year-old Chastain Park-area resident is an elite-level player for the Top Hat Soccer Club, a distance freestyler for the Dynamo Swim Club and one of the top cross country runners at St. Pius X High School (her best time of 19 minutes, 5 seconds was the 14th-fastest time in the state).

So, it’s probably no surprise Devon has quickly stood out in triathlons and has been one of the nation’s best in the sport ever since she ran her first race as a 10-year-old. This summer, she won the USA Triathlon Southeast Junior Race Series and was named to the regional team for the second straight year.

“I think I’m good at all of them,” Devon, a St. Pius freshman, said of her competitiveness in the triathlon disciplines of running, swimming and cycling. “I’m really lucky to be good at all of them.”

Luck is not the only factor. Devon was introduced to the sport by her father, Bill, a veteran triathlete who has run 22 Ironman-length triathlons (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon run), including the Ironman World Championships in 1995.

Devon competes in sprint triathlons – 800-meter swim, 16-mile bike ride and a 5K run.

Devon placed second in her first race, an IronKids event in Alpharetta at the age of 10. By the end of that summer, she qualified for and won the IronKids National Championship in Tempe, Ariz. “That’s where a lot athletes start,” Devon’s mother, Susan, said. “Even Lance Armstrong. He got his start there, in Tempe.”

She has been at the top of the sport since. She finished first in the Junior Race Series by winning the Peachtree City Triathlon in August, beating all 380 female participants in the race.

“Whether I win or lose, I always know I’ve put my best foot forward and I have a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I finish a race,” she said.

Until the triathlon season picks back up next summer, Devon intends to be at least a three-sport athlete at St. Pius. Along with cross country, she’ll swim and play soccer, and might also add track and field to mix with soccer in the spring.