Youth edged out experience on a steamy morning for the championship of the 23rd annual Charleston Sprint Triathlon on Sunday.

Top overall finishers


1. Hayden DiBona 58:03.

2. Jay Upchurch 58:19.

3. Matthew Moldenhauer 59:30.

4. Eric Pines 1:00:25.

5. Jim Daniel 1:00:45.


1. Stephanie Buffo 1:03:18.

2. Carole Murray 1:04:21.

3. Sandy O’Keefe 1:06:42.

4. Rachel Crunk 1:07:10.

5. Isabel Driggers 1:07:35.


MALE: Mark Schwartztrauber 1:04:09.

FEMALE: Rachel Crunk 1:07:10.

Before Sunday’s finale, the fifth of five sprint triathlon races, executive race director Paul King said the duel between 15-year-old Hayden DiBona and 35-year-old Jay Upchurch was “the best set-up we have ever had for a series championship” in the open-elite division.

It lived up to that billing.

DiBona, a rising sophomore at Academic Magnet High School, edged out Upchurch by 16 seconds to win the series championship by clocking a time of 58 minutes, three seconds.

Before the race, DiBona knew he had to bank about 90 seconds on the swim to hold off Upchurch, who is a slightly better cyclist and top local runner, and the youngster did just that.

DiBona finished the 600-yard swim in seven minutes flat, compared to Upchurch’s 8 minutes, 33 seconds. Upchurch shaved about 45 seconds off the deficit on the 12-mile bike and even more on what, for him, was a sub-par 5K run.

In two of the previous sprint triathlons this year, including one where he beat DiBona, Upchurch clocked 17:05 splits on the 5K leg of the race. Sunday’s effort, in hot conditions that left many with slower 5K splits, was a 17:53.

At a turn-around point near Riverland Drive that’s about a half-mile from the finish, DiBona — worried he was going to be chased down again — finally realized he was going to survive and even high-fived Upchurch as the two crossed in opposite directions.

Both had their doubts on winning after the first mile of the 5K. DiBona, who wasn’t wearing a watch, felt like he had crossed the mile split in seven minutes, while Upchurch clocked six minutes. He normally hits it at around 5:35.

The new, friendly rivalry may continue in next year’s series. This was the first year that both vied for a series championship title, which requires participants to compete in at least three of the five races, and both indicated an interest in seeking it next year.

In the meantime, DiBona — who is coming off an eighth- place finish in USA Triathlon Youth and Junior Nationals — is turning his focus to cross-country training. Upchurch, who is quality assurances manager and product engineer for Belimed, is now considering competing in the inaugural Kiawah Island Golf Resort Triathlon on Sept. 15.

He may be joined at Kiawah by the champion in the women’s open-elite, 24-year-old Stephanie Buffo — another runner who has taken to triathlon this year.

Buffo, a third-year student in the Medical University of South Carolina’s physical therapy school, reeled in Carole Murray, 29, of Ladson, on the run leg of the triathlon to win the race and the championship with a time of 1:03:18.

Murray had put about two minutes on Buffo, a former cross country and track runner at Clemson, on the swim and the bike leg until the run, when Buffo outpaced Murray with a time 19:40. Murray finished with a 22:37 and an overall time of 1:04:21.

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