Sisters Amya and Jayda Bessel wrapped up their triathlon season by racing in two back-to-back Iron Kids triathlons this past weekend in West Des Moines, Iowa. 

Jayda, 8, brought home two first place trophies and Amya, 10, brought home one first place trophy and one second place trophy.

The first triathlon started at 7 a.m. Saturday and was a regional qualifier make-up that was previously canceled during the middle of the Sept. 3 event due to severe weather warnings and lightning. 

Amya had already finished the swim and bike portions and Jayda was waiting on the beach to start when the event was called off.

The sisters didn’t have to compete in the make-up event this past Saturday to compete in the championship held later that day, because they had already qualified in Kansas City, Mo., and Madison, Wis., but they easily accepted the challenge. 

Jayda said, “This way we can make the most of our money.” 

Jayda won first place in the 9-year-old female division and Amya took second place in the 11-year-old female division.

Three hours later the sisters were competing in the National Championship against the nation’s top youth tri-athletes. Only the top five in each age group from the 23 Iron Kids triathlons held across the country qualified to compete in the championship.  Over 1,100 tri-athletes from the United States and other countries, ages 6-15, competed.

Both sisters captured first places in their age groups for the Military Iron Kids National Championship divisions for children of armed service members.  

“There aren’t nearly as many kids that compete in the military divisions as there are in the regular divisions, but it is nice that Hy-Vee Iron Kids has a way to recognize the sacrifices that military kids make,” said Steve Bessel, the triathlon team’s father and coach. He is closing in on 22 years as a veteran of the Army National Guard.

Neither Amya nor Jayda placed well enough Saturday to receive awards in their regular championship age group divisions. Jayda placed sixth out of the nation’s 54 top 9-year-old females in the championship and Amya placed 13th out of the nation’s 70 top 11-year-old females.

Coach Bessel didn’t think competing in the earlier triathlon had an adverse impact on his daughters’ performance in the championship race.

“I am so proud of them,” he said. “I know how hard they trained, and I know how fast they recover. If anything, it helped them warm up and relieve some nervous energy.  It just shows that they are true Iron Kids.”

Amya’s time for the regional race was 28:20, and her time for the national race was 28:03. Jayda’s time for the regional race was 29:48, and her time for the national race was 29:49.  Both races took place on the same course.