St. Pius sophomore takes on tracks, pools, bicycles Tuesday, July 13, 2010 4:54 PM EDT

Devon Dabney, a rising sophomore at St. Pius X, typically rides 40 miles while training for triathlons. Her goal is to qualifiy for the Junior Olympics.

By Christopher Yale Smith For The Crier

When a teenager thinks of a typical summer morning, he or she thinks of sleeping late - not waking up at 5 a.m. to go for a daily five-mile run.

But that is just the beginning of Devon Dabney’s day. In the afternoon, there is a grueling two-hour swim workout and the evening usually involves a 30-mile bike ride.

The 2010 Southeast Junior Triathlon Development Race Series is at its midway point, and Dabney, the 2009 Series Champion for 13-15 females, is having another notable season.

Dabney, a rising sophomore at St. Pius, started the season by wining the Clemson Triathlon in May. In addition to winning the 13-15 age group, Dabney finished fifth out of 173 competitors of all ages.

At the beginning of June, Dabney finished second overall, and she won her age group at the Rock-n-Roll Sprint Triathlon in Macon. A week later, she again finished second overall and won the Buster Britton Triathlon for her age group. At the end of the month and for the third consecutive time, Dabney finished second overall and won her age group at the Tri the Parks Race at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla.

On July 10, Dabney finished fourth in the Flatland Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa.

When she was 10, her father, who frequently competes in Iron Man races, signed her up for an Iron Kids meet because he thought it would be fun. She was not serious about the competition. As a matter of fact, while other contestants had road and triathlon bikes, she used a simple mountain bike.

Dabney finished second and a lot has changed since then.

Dabney, who is a stronger biker than swimmer or runner, enjoys that punishing workouts are part of her normal summer routine. Dabney’s father, and mother, a former competitive figure skating coach, the core of her support system, and they help keep her focused.

“My mom always tells me ‘walk softly and carry a big stick’ pretty much every day,” said Dabney.

Often Dabney, who does not train with music, bikes with her father and his friends on the Silver Comet. The group typically rides 40 miles. For the first 20 miles, the goal is to ride at about 17 miles per hour. On the way back, a group member does a mile pull and the goal is to go around 20 or so miles per hour.

In the spring at the 5-AAA region track meet, Dabney placed second in the 3200 meters. On the seventh lap, she made her move and sprinted the final two laps. At the AAA state championships, Dabney set a personal record for the 3200. Her time of 11:39 was 12 seconds faster than her previous best time.

Again, the drama unfolded on the seventh lap. As Dabney tried to get into lane one, the closest competitor would not budge.

“I dropped back about five body lengths behind her, but then I came flying around the outside lane to move ahead,” said Dabney. “I held my breath because last time [lap 7] I guess she heard me.”

In the final moments, Dabney passed the runner and finished fourth. Dabney was the only St. Pius freshman to letter and to go to state in cross country, swimming, and track. Her goal is to qualify next year for the Junior Olympics.