When the name Molina is mentioned in triathlon circles, it's almost always assumed to mean Scott Molina, one of the world's best triathletes.
But brother Sean soon might change that.
While Scott Molina was placing second in Japan's first triathlon, Sean was making a name for himself today by swimming, bicycling and running around Baltimore to earn what he said was "the biggest victory" of his career.
In six previous attempts in two years on the Bud Light triathlon series, victory had eluded Sean Molina, a 5-foot-9, 135-pounder from Pittsburg, Calif. Today, he might have failed again, on the fourth stop of the tour and the first triathlon in Baltimore, had it not been for the absence of the world's three best triathletes and the quick and competent work of a local bicycle mechanic.
Molina, 20, had earned three third-place finishes and three fifth-place finishes on the Bud Light tour, a series of triathlons held in 13 cities nationwide. All races on the series combine 1,500 meters (.9 mile) of swimming, 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) of bicycling and 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of running. He completed today's competition in 1 hour 55 minutes 46 seconds.
Meanwhile, Joanne Ernst, 26, of Palo Alto, Calif., won her third Bud Light triathlon of the year by almost five minutes, in 2:07:56.
Although the field of 1,300 athletes was missing the world's best in Scott Molina, Mark Allen and Dave Scott (the winner in Japan today), Sean Molina still faced formidable competition. He also faced mechanical problems with his bicycle before the race even began.
"I put the wrong chain on my bike last week," said Molina, who, along with a mechanic, worked on the bicycle while others readied for the first segment of the competition, swimming. Molina left for the starting line while the mechanic continued to fix his bicycle.
He emerged from the choppy waters of Gunpowder River in sixth place, 11 seconds behind the leader, and quickly bicycled toward the Inner Harbor and into the lead after four miles. He moved so fast that when passengers on the two trailing press vehicles caught up to Erik Hansen, then in second place midway through the bicycle segment, they thought Hansen was the leader because there was nobody in sight ahead of him. Molina actually led, nearly 2 1/2 minutes down the road.
The only person who threatened Molina during the run was Ken Glah, an athlete capable of running 10 kilometers in 31 minutes. Glah, 21, a Penn State junior from West Chester, Pa., moved from sixth to second in the first 1 1/2 miles of the run. He ran 33:43 to Molina's 35:06, but Molina crossed the line first by 1:49.
Ernst, who was 2 1/2 minutes behind after the swim, passed Dian Girard-Rives of Tyler, Tex., midway through the bicycle segment and never was challenged. Girard-Rives, 25, was second in 2:12:49.