Brookings girl races in Minnesota championship

Joshua Reineke photos: Above, Brookings eighth-grader Jaixai Reineke (left) poses with her third-place plaque on the podium after the Minnesota State High School Championship Triathlon Race. Below, Reineke rides her bike during the biking portion of the triathlon. She finished the race in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 49 seconds.

BROOKINGS – Eighth-grader Jaixai Reineke wanted to compete for a high school state championship in the triathlon.

There was one problem, though. No one else in the state of South Dakota registered to do so.

Every year USA Triathlon designates a triathlon in each state as the state championship race. They have an age group for people below the age of 19 and that is considered the high school championship.

This year the championship race in South Dakota was the MAC Triathlon in Mitchell. Reineke and her father, Joshua, were worried that there were going to be no other youth athletes participating in the race and Jaixai wanted to compete.

“We contacted [USA Triathlon] and because there was no other high school eligible athletes that registered for South Dakota, which means there was essentially no high school championship here, she became eligible for the Minnesota race,” Joshua said. 

The Minnesota State Triathlon Championship was the Trinona held on June 9 in Winona. The course includes a 1/4-mile swim, an 11-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run. Jaixai was able to finish the race in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 49 seconds. She came in third place, and it was her personal-best time.

Jaixai said she enjoys all parts of the triathlon, but her favorite part is the running portion.

“I’m more of runner,” she said. “I was in my track season two weeks before the triathlon, so coming off of that I felt like a stronger runner. It is the end of the race, so it is the most painful part, but it’s nice to see the finish line.”

Jaixai ran for the Brookings High School cross country and track teams this year and went to state in both sports.

She ran in a couple triathlons when she younger when the Reineke’s lived in Michigan, but last year was her first year doing them competitively.

She raced in the Trinona and came in third as well with a time of 1:20:56, but it was not for the High School State Championship. 

Jaixai said the hardest of the three parts of the race is the end of the biking and the beginning of the running. 

“I’m not as much of an experienced biker as I am a swimmer and runner. At the same time though, the running is very difficult. I would say the transition from biking to running is the hardest because you just finished a long bike ride and you still have three more miles to go,” Jaixai said.

Jaixai said she is motivated to do more than one triathlon a year moving forward. 

“This year she didn’t have a lot of time to train for this race because she was focusing on the high school track team. So I think the track coaches really helped her get in shape and focus on the run and I think that helped her do well in this race,” Joshua said.

She qualified for the National High School Triathlon Championship in Tempe, Arizona, in April 2020 after placing third in the state championship race. 

The Reinekes do not know for sure if she will compete in the national race, but they are going to work towards it.

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