With Meridian’s Tyson Pompelia out of this year’s 40th annual Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon, the title was up for grabs.
But Adam Leister made sure the title stayed in the Queen City (Meridian).
Leister, a Meridian native, used a strong bike portion of the race and finished with a time of 2:00.33 to win his first ever Heart O’ Dixie.
Leister was just happy to keep the Heart O’ Dixie title in Meridian after Pompelia had won the race for three straight years.
“With Tyson not racing, it kind of put some pressure on me to win it,” Leister said. “Tyson sort of put some pressure on me to keep the win in the home town. It’s Meridian versus everybody. It’s a totally different race when Tyson isn’t in it. He’s one of my good friends and it’s just not the same with him not in it. To me, this race will always have an asterisk beside it because Tyson wasn’t racing.”
Leister, 35, was the top-ranked male coming into the event but came out of the half-mile swim at Lake Tiak O’ Khata in Louisville in sixth place with a time of 11:36, which was sixth best overall. Leister started to push the action on the bike and had the best time there with a time of 1:03.09. Leister then finished out the race, a seven-mile run from Williamsville to the Neshoba County Fairground, in 44:04 to win the race by more than minute.
“The weather was perfect,” Leister said. “I started out front and my team captain started second. He beat me out of the water but I caught him on the bike. I don’t really have a strength but am above average on everything.”
Meridian’s Daniel Wile was a close second place in the event with a time of 2:01.58. Wile had a strong run, finishing the hilly seven-mile course in 40:01 which was second overall. His bike time was 1:07.27 while his swim time was 12:43.
It was a big day for the Wile family as Anna Wile defended her title as the top female finisher with a time of 2:15.39. Wile had the second strongest swim in the field with a time of 11:13, a bike of 1:14.10 and a run of 48.34. The next closest female was Yekaterina Karpitskaya of Biloxi who finished with a time of 2:19.49.
Philadelphia’s Richard Goldman was the top finisher from Neshoba County, winning the Dickey Nowell Award for the eighth straight year and 13h time overall. Goldman was 27th overall with a time of 2:21.16. Goldman had a 13:42 swim, 1:10.58 ike and 53.39 run. It was Goldman’s slowest time since 2018.