Milestones pass in a blur for Austin Hindman. He became just the third American to win the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Junior title last fall, then broke the record in the Missouri Cross Country Championships six weeks later. A two-time state champion for Lafayette High, Hindman will continue on both paths: running for the University of Missouri and racing the pros in ITU events. Luckily for us, he moves as gracefully from question to question as he does from sport to sport.

Which achievement means more: winning junior worlds in triathlon or breaking the state cross country record?

It’s tough to say. A “world” title has that word in it. It carries so much weight. At the same time, the state cross country record means a lot. To have my name up there with the best runners in the history of the state is pretty special. It’s crazy I had two of my best performances in that short of a time period.

What’s the secret to juggling the two?

I think that speaks to the quality of my coaches, how well they put together my training plan and pulled off the fine-tuning and tapering. So, the credit goes to Jenny Weber [Z3 Triathlon in Des Moines], Sean O’Connor [Lafayette], Mary Liston [Rockwood Swim Club], Jim Schneider [Pedal Hard] and Jeff Huse [Athletes Unlimited].

Leading up to worlds, my training is focused on all three sports. After worlds, it’s focused more on running, less volume in the pool and on the bike. Going into high school, a lot of my coaches had different styles, but through the years, they’ve talked a lot and learned from each other.

Why continue your career at Mizzou?

On my official visit, I clicked. I felt good about the plans the cross country coaches put together. Another big thing was they’re not only willing but excited to help me with my triathlon goals. Mizzou is letting me do triathlon over the summer and race at worlds. They’re also going to work with my triathlon coach to coordinate training. Another really big thing for me was I get to train with the swim team. They have top-of-the-line facilities and a top program.

I’ve had the most success in triathlon swimming with swimmers, biking with cyclists and running with runners. There just aren’t a lot of triathletes my age to train with. I think the same will apply to college. If I was pursuing triathlon only, I’d probably have to go to Europe or California and find a group that I could push myself and be successful with.

A general outline while I’m at Mizzou would be triathlon in the summer, then Worlds in September, then go into cross country season a little late, indoor track, outdoors and then back to tri in the summer.

What’s your next big goal?

The Clermont Draft Legal Challenge in Clermont, Florida, and CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon in Sarasota, Florida, in March. I haven’t done much racing against the pros, so this is a chance to get a baseline and learn what I need to build on. This summer, I’ll definitely be hoping to get into World Cup events.

After winning state 2-mile and 2-mile relay titles, what’s left to accomplish in state track?

I’m considering the 3200, 1600, 800 and the 4×800, but I’m not sure what I’ll go for yet.

And do the 2020 Olympics remain on the horizon?

I’ll be just 22. That’s pretty ambitious, but I think I’ll be set up well through Mizzou and the other people I have supporting me. Just trying to make an Olympic team is really special. If I don’t make it in 2020, then I’ll throw everything I have at 2024.

Kathleen Nelson is a regular contributor to Terrain magazine.