Ciravolo wins Triathlon women’s division

First Posted: 8/18/2014

With Wilkes-Barre’s recently-created Sprint Division – which included racers covering half the distances of the Olympic-level swim, bike and run event – mixed into the field, even Shavertown’s Kelly Ciravolo had trouble deciphering if she’d just captured her fifth women’s crown in the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon moments after crossing the finish line.

“Are we sure I won?” a skeptical Ciravolo wondered for a long while afterwards, until official results were finally announced. “There were Sprinters, there were Olympic (-distance) people I didn’t know (on the course) and usually I know a lot of the competitors. I was sure there was a girl (who finished) ahead of me.”

Not in the Olympic-distance women’s field.

Ciravolo was back on top of the women’s division on Aug. 17 with a time of 2:28:31, a year after she failed to finish in front of the women’s field while running the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon little more than two weeks after giving birth to her now 1-year-old daughter Tuula.

“Who doesn’t do a triathlon 16 days after delivery?” Ciravolo laughed.

This summer, her husband Scott’s frightening battle with Lyme Disease took Ciravolo away from the sport for a spell.

“I missed a lot of training,” Ciravolo said. “He was on antibiotics for six weeks; he was in the hospital. But he’s here, he’s up and walking around now. I missed all my big races, but what’s more important?”

She wasn’t about to miss Wilkes-Barre, though. After all that’s where Ciravolo met her husband while she was winning two Wilkes-Barre races under her maiden name Kelly Ochinko. She married Scott a month after one Wilkes-Barre Triathlon and the family grew around two other Wilkes-Barre races – as Tuula and 5-year-old Gemma were both born in August.

“I just can’t imagine sitting this race out,” Ciravolo said.

She certainly wasn’t doing much sitting last Sunday.

Ciravolo’s winning time bested women’s runner-up Charlene Aquilina, of Wyoming, who finished in 2:40:30.

That margin may have been greater if Ciravolo didn’t have to put her bike back together.

“My chain came off,” she said. “Coming downhill. I had to stop. The last race, I flatted. I said, ‘Please, just let me finish this one.’”

By the end of the event, the entire Wilkes-Barre Triathlon field received a Brush burn.

Shrugging off a recent practice accident on Route 118 suffered while he was preparing for the event, former collegiate pitcher Stephen Brush fired a fastball in his new sport by winning the grueling Olympic-distance division of the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon with a time of 2:20:14.

That was easily faster than the time of Robbie Gould, of Drums, who wound up second overall in 2:26:43, and the first-place finish felt much better than the tumble Brush took on the same course earlier this month.

“I fell two weeks ago, doing this course, preparing for it,” said Brush, a Dunmore resident. “I was doing 30 miles an hour. I wiped out on 118. I went about 20 feet in the street.”

He may as well have been 20 miles in front of the rest of the rest of the Olympic-distance lineup competing in the 1.5K swim, 40K bike ride and 11K run – although that was tough to gauge in a jumbled group of competitors.

Former Lock Haven University pitcher Brush felt fortunate just to make the start.

He was knocked unconscious during that crash earlier this month while practicing for Wilkes-Barre a couple weeks ago, an accident that happened while he was trying to avoid a car on bike training.

So imagine Brush’s reaction when the lead vehicle stopped in front of him on the Wilkes-Barre course.

“I felt pretty scared,” Brush said. “But the course is so much fun.”

It became as exciting for him as a strikeout to wrap up a victory in the bottom of the ninth.

“I never really learned how to pitch, but I threw hard,” Brush said of his surgery-plagued college career.

Now he goes hard.

Brush said he was in the swimming pool for triathlon training just two hours after his accident, which left him with fresh burns on his body that are still noticeable.

All in the name of completing a game on top of the hill.

“I definitely thought it was realistic,” Brush said, “especially since two guys who usually do this race weren’t doing it. I thought this was my chance to become victorious. I knew I had a good bike and a good swim.

“It feels good.”

As for that Sprint race, Matthew Stephens of Lewisburg won it and was the first triathlete to cross the finish line in any category with a time of 1:29:15. He bested Mountain Top’s Jonathan Bilbow, who clocked in at 1:32:54. Nadalie Solomon, of Nuangola, won the women’s Sprint title in 1:43:40.

And Yonah Wasik, Brian Hazenski and Russ Susko teamed up to win the relay race, finishing with a time of 2:25:18 to edge the 2:27:01 finish of Matt VanDerMeid, Greg Klusewitz and Mitch Ford.

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