Big Blue Adventure Race Director Todd Jackson didn’t want to do it. He had no other choice.
Neilson Powless, the 16-year-old triathlon-racing phenom from Roseville, made a wrong turn on the run of the XTERRA Tahoe City triathlon on Saturday.
Instead of awarding the defending title holder a repeat win in the race, Jackson was forced to disqualify the young rising star after investigating, and confirming, why there was such a large discrepancy between his run and the other top contenders.
“It doesn’t diminish the fact that the kid is on fire,” said Jackson, alluding to Powless’ recent success, highlighted by his overall amateur title at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui this past October. “He’s been dominating. The kid is amazing. It’s pretty unheard of for a 16-year-old to be winning these events.”
Until Tuesday, Powless was listed on the unofficial results with a winning time of 2:27:33, while Matt Balzer, 32, of Reno was second in 2:45:02.
With Powless removed from the official results, Balzer stands alone at the top, with Bryce Phinney, 37, of Tuscon, Ariz., second in 2:52:47, and Brett Long, 35, of Carson City third in 2:55:25.
Racing as a pro, Genevieve Evans of Carnelian Bay, a regular top finisher in Tahoe-area endurance events, claimed the women’s win and placed seventh overall in 3:04:09. Evans held off Hannah Rae Finchcamp of Altadena, Calif., who finished runner-up among women and eighth overall in 3:05:58.
Powless wasn’t the only athlete to make a wrong turn. Nicholette Doliva of Fallon was the third woman across the line (23rd overall) in 3:19:06. But she, too, was removed from the official results, giving Sian Turner, 32, of Redwood City third place in 3:22:34.
Among the Tahoe-area contingent, Rob Laurie of Incline Village was bumped up to seventh after Powless’ DQ, as he posted a time of 3:04:12, Peter Hanson of Incline Village was 20th in 3:18:13 and Donatas Ereminas of Truckee was 27th in 3:22:06.
A total of 99 athletes completed the Olympic-distance triathlon, which started and ended at Commons Beach. The course included two 750-meter swim laps with a 50-meter beach run, a 22-mile bike ride and a 5-mile run.
In the shorter XTERRA Tahoe City sprint triathlon, Bradley Haag, 23, of Incline Village raced to the win in a time of 1:56:15. Justin Riele of Danville, Calif., finished runner-up in 1:58:40, and Morganne Andicott of Alamo, Calif., was third overall and first among women in 2:05:53.
Leslie Shaw of South Lake Tahoe was the second woman and fifth overall, posting a time of 2:06:47, and Allison Gatti of Fairfax, Calif., was the third woman (14th overall) in 2:21:11.
Chris Anderson of Carnelian Bay finished seventh in 2:13:11. He was followed by Ian Braunschneider of Tahoe City, who was 18th in 2:23:00, and Richard Ludke of Truckee, who was 27th in 2:36:38.
Seventy-two racers participated. The race included one 750-meter swim lap, a 13-mile bike ride and a 3-mile run.
In the duathlon, James Kelley of Crystal Bay captured the win in a time of 3:04:40. Dina Anderson was the first woman and second overall in 3:31:07.