Foothill’s Myna Buckley juggles cross country and triathlons

Foothill junior Myna Buckley won’t have much time to recover from the Class 4A state cross country meet Saturday in Reno.

She will catch a plane that night to Tempe, Arizona, where she will run some more Sunday.

And swim.

And bike.

Buckley, the Sunrise Region cross country champion, is one of the best triathletes on the West Coast and is set to compete with Hyper Speed Las Vegas — a developmental triathlon club — in a showcase high school triathlon during the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championship at Arizona State.

Hyper Speed founder and coach Ron Gallagher compared the magnitude of the race to that of the Final Four in men’s basketball, and said Buckley is already on the radar of several Division I coaches across the country.

“She’s so aloof about it, she doesn’t even appreciate what she’s doing,” Gallagher said. “It’s been really unreal to watch.”

Buckley indeed is shy about her accomplishments and sports a strong sense of humility despite the insatiable competitiveness that’s driven her since she learned to swim in elementary school.

She moved to Las Vegas in fifth grade and started running to win a contest at Gordon McCaw Elementary School, opting to continue because she thought it was “fun and easy to do” compared to swimming.

“After (winning the contest) … I was asking my mom if I could run on a team or something, but she couldn’t find any,” Buckley said. “So I had to wait until I got to high school to do cross country.”

And she excelled from the get-go.

Buckley finished second in the the Sunrise Region as a freshman and third as a sophomore, qualifying for the state meet both seasons.

After the 2016 cross-country season concluded, a couple of her Foothill teammates who compete in triathlons with Hyper Speed persuaded her to connect with Gallagher, who helped her condition and learn to master the third and final leg of the rigorous race — the bicycle, which she didn’t initially know how to ride.

Within a few months, Buckley was competing and succeeding in triathlons against older, more experienced counterparts. She placed second in her first event and second in her second to qualify for the USA Triathlon nationals in the 16-19 age category.

“She went from learning to ride a bike … to elite nationals in like literally six months,” Gallagher said. “She brings this really, really incredible competitive nature that is super rare in any athlete.”

She won two races during the summer, and came out for cross country again at Foothill, where she’s cemented herself as one of the best athletes in the school.

“She’s not afraid to push herself beyond her limits,” Falcons cross-country coach Kevin Soares said. “For her, (cross country is) like, ‘Oh, there’s one thing to overcome, the running part. I can do this.’”

Yes, she can.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.