This year the Grand Rapids Triathlon was named the host of the USAT Michigan High School State Championship. High school athletes age 15-19 (as of 12/31/18) will be joining us from around the state to see who the reigning triathlon champions will be. Eric Fernandez, a 14-year-old student from Portage, is one of those athletes joining us.
Eric began his career as a triathlete when he was six years old. His father, Gil, was training for his first triathlon in 2008. At one of his first races, they also had a kids’ triathlon event. Gil asked Eric and his brother if they wanted to participate. “We said yes. Tried it and loved it! Pretty soon we joined a local swim team and the rest is history.” His highlight triathlon moment was winning his age group at the Fort Custer kids’ triathlon. Later Eric realized he would have come in second in the oldest age group as well. “Just made me realize I had potential to push myself more.”
Triathlon is not the only sport that Eric is passionate about. He’s a wrestler and on the soccer and track teams. He began training for the High School State Championship back in March. With cross country and wrestling season under his belt and track season just wrapping up, Eric still finds time to play competitive soccer, bike two times a week, attend a triathlon swim class, and get brick workouts done on the weekend. His biggest challenge is finding the motivation to train for the swim leg, “It’s just not my strong suit.”
Eric’s goals for 2018 include competing in the High School Championship at the Grand Rapids Tri, achieving a PR for his half marathon time, and making the high school varsity teams in Portage for soccer, track, and wrestling. Seems like that would be plenty to keep a young man busy, but he plans to work towards all that while excelling academically and being “the best son and brother I can be”.
Beyond high school, Eric hopes that he can become a professional athlete. “I intend to go to college on an athletic scholarship. I would also like to pursue a Masters Degree or higher in the sciences and engineering fields.”
Eric credits his family with some of his success in life. “I have a family who supports me in all my sports endeavors. They drive me to and from practices and they make sure to be at my games every weekend. I do travel soccer as well, and often times find myself traveling out of state for tournaments and competitions.” His family is there for all of that. Eric finds that getting to see new places is one part of his sports he really enjoys. He’s proud of his bicultural family, and when he’s not busy in the gym or on the field they enjoy traveling all over the world. So far at his young age, he’s been everywhere from South America to Europe, to the Mediterranean, and Africa. Maybe someday Eric’s athletic ability and triathlon career will take him even farther. Possibly to places like Kona?
We wish Eric and all our Michigan High School State Championship participants the best of luck this weekend. Tri Hard!