Home Sports Local Sports Roswell teens score high at Youth Pentathlon Nationals

Roswell teens score high at Youth Pentathlon Nationals

USA Pentathlon Nationals were held in San Antonio, Texas, on June 18-21. Local winners from the area are Jeremy Pinon, 3rd place U17 boys, Owen Gregory, 1st place U13 boys, Mary Kathryn Olvera, 4th place U15 girls and Tessa Walker, 3rd place U15 girls. (Submitted Photo)

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Roswell’s Owen Gregory was close to the top spot at past U.S. Open National Championship pentathlon events. Last month in San Antonio, the 12-year-old was able to conquer No. 1 in the 13-and-under division.

Going into this year’s competition, Gregory’s goal was to win it all, after being so close for so long.

“It was exciting,” Gregory said of the competition, “because I had gotten third and second for the past couple of years and I’d really been wanting to get first.”

For those that may not follow pentathlons, participants fence, swim, run and shoot.

“You start out fencing and fence all of the people in your division,” Gregory said. “Then you go swimming. You’ll swim a certain amount of yards or meters depending on your age and then you’ll take close to a three hour break and then you’ll go shooting or running, where you will shoot from seven meters and then ten meters for the older kids and then run 400 meters and then do it again and then you’ll finish and that’s for everyone.”

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Gregory and some other Roswell youths participated in the events and he gives credit to longtime New Mexico Military Institute coach Jan Olesinski with the training for the pentathlon.

Olseinski could be called the “Pentathlon Godfather of Roswell” as he is a two-time Olympian from Poland and he has organized pentathlons over the decades in Chaves County and other parts of the United States.

“Coach Jan is a very good coach,” Gregory said. “He’s very disciplined and not messing around and doing what you’re supposed to do to be doing and he has us do hard things so that will benefit us and so that makes it easier in competition.”

When it comes to the running and swimming, Gregory said Olseinski has his charges running 800 meters instead of 400 meters and they will shoot from ten meters instead of seven meters.

Gregory’s favorite event is running and he would like to compete in the Jr. Olympics one day and possibly even compete for the U.S. Olympic team.

Sixteen-year-old Jeremy Pinon also competed in San Antonio. He took third place in the 17-and-under division, which was just his second pentathlon. His first one was last year in Colorado Springs and he came in fifth.

Pinon attends New Mexico Military Institute’s High School and just completed his sophomore year.

“I started swimming with Coach Jan and then one of the mornings he said, ‘oh you’re coming to NMMI next year and I said yeah and he said OK.’ He then said, ‘come run with us and do cross country with us.’ I was already fencing a little bit and I was just kind of brushing up on it and maybe I’ll just do the whole thing,” Pinon said. “So I just kind of dove right into it. This is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made personally. It’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy doing it.”

Pinon’s favorite event is fencing.

“It’s a lot of fun and you get to poke people,” Pinon said with a laugh. “My fencing at nationals this past year was not what I’d hoped it would be. Out of the 31 bouts, I only got 12 wins. That was kind of a little bit below average. I was kind of upset about my fence.”

Once he got back to Roswell, Pinon thought he would take a break from training. His respite didn’t last long as boredom got the best of him during his short hiatus. “So I went back.”

While Gregory and Pinon competed on the boys’ side for Roswell, the ladies were represented in San Antonio as well.

Mary Olvera, a student at Berrendo Middle School, took fourth in the 15-and-under division.

“The fencing was good, it was difficult because there are a lot of other people who come from fencing,” Olvera said. “Our swimming was probably the best out of the whole competition. We come from a swimming background and then our shooting and combined was really well. We really had a good shooting and really good running. I felt like it was a great day and we had a great competition.”

The competitors trained year round for the pentathlon. During the school year, they would train late in the afternoon and once the academic year ended they would train early in the morning with a swim and run and then would go back in the afternoon and would fence and shoot.

Along with competing this year in San Antonio, Olvera competed in last year’s regionals in Roswell and the nationals in Colorado Springs.

“I started it and then kept liking it,” Olvera said of competing. “I kept getting better and that’s what just motivated me why not go and try it. If I do good then I do good. If I don’t then I just don’t.”

Tessa Walker, who will attend NMMI High School this fall, competed in the 15-and-under division with Olvera and she took third.

“It was good,” Walker said about competing. “I think we both liked it really good. I think myself I could have done a tad better.”

Walker feels that swimming and shooting are her favorite pentathlon events and her goal for next year is to take the top spot in her age category.

Not only did youth from across the U.S. compete in San Antonio, adults competed as well, including those in the senior and masters divisions. Decades from now when Owen Gregory, Jeremy Pinon, Mary Olvera and Tessa Walker reach seniors and masters ages, they plan to compete then just like they do now.

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