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‘Seamus Millett: national champion’ has a ring to it

Durango High School pentathlete brings back gold from nationals

Calling Seamus Millett a Renaissance man would fit, but his skills align more with modernism.

Millett excels at the modern pentathlon, a competition that combines fencing, swimming, running pistol shooting and equestrian show jumping – skills necessary for turn of the 20th century cavalry soldiers.

In fact, there’s no one in the country better for his age.

The 16-year-old Durango High School senior to be claimed two gold medals at the USA Pentathlon Youth National Championships on June 22-24 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

For the competition, athletes fenced every other competitor in a round-robin format, swam 200 meters, ran 50 meters on a track to the shooting range and shot five perfect shots with a single armed laser pistol then ran a total of 3,200 meters on a cross country-style course with three more five-shot rounds.

A total of 55 youth athletes competed in Colorado Springs.

Millett won both the Youth B Men age group, which encompasses 15- and 16-year-olds, and the Youth A Men category for 17- and 18-year-olds.

Pentathletes can compete at one age group older than their current age with coach and administration recommendation.

“I think it went really well,” said Millett in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. “I won the fencing event, and then I won the combined event (running and shooting). It was the second fastest time I’ve ever done.”

Competitors under 18 don’t participate in the equestrian portion because of liability reasons.

They ride unfamiliar horses often borrowed for the competition.

Millett has won age group national titles before, but this is his first overall championship in the A category.

“It was really something I’ve been moving toward for multiple years now,” said Millett, son of James Millett and Jennifer Thurston. “For the past two years, I’ve won my age group at nationals. I haven’t ever won the whole competition like I did this year.”

Millett would have another title, too, if not for the scourge of odd numbers.

In addition to the individual competition, there was a relay event where both members of the two-person team fence half of the competition, swim 100 meters and runs and shoots twice.

Because there weren’t enough athletes for everyone to have partners, organizers gave Millett the option to compete against the teams individually.

Millett finished 41 seconds faster than the closest team.

He still finished with the best scores but wasn’t officially recognized because he was competing by himself.

“I just did it as myself to gain some more practice in a competitive setting,” Millett said.

Winning kept Millett on top of the USA Youth Male rankings, and he’ll lead the top four boys to the World Youth Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 2.

“I know that I have the target on my back. I’m coming into international competitions as the top-ranked American. They’re looking at me as being the most competitive,” Millett said. “I don’t really look at the rankings too much. I just go competition by competition. I don’t really view myself higher than most people, it’s just I’ve done well in competition before, and I’ve earned than ranking.”

kgrabowski@durangoherald.com



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