What a day/evening of athletics we had when Blue Stars hosted the annual Ilawarra Track Challenge last Saturday. Incorporating the state 60m sprint and the state 1 mile championship for both men and women, neither event disappointed and close finishes in all events, were the highlight of the meet.
The throws, as supporting events, took honours also, especially in the women’s open hammer for former youth world champion, Alexandra Hulley from Sutherland heaving a massive 64.41m, one of the biggest throws in hammer the Kerryn McCann track has witnessed. She is now laying claims to spot on the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games.
The Challenge opened on a high with the women’s Kings Sports 60m up for grabs. Campbelltown’s Holly Bender finally took out the title in a good time of 7.54sec, just defeating Luisa Healey from Sydney University in 7.58 and Jasmine Everett from UTS Norths in 7.65.
Bender also took out the supporting 100m in a time of 12.16sec. In the under 20 60m, Illawong took first and 2nd with Carlie McGiver taking the title from club mate Elena Delaveris and Athletics Wollongong’s Tierney Dunn in 7.86. IBS junior athlete Emma Matthews just missed a place in the under 20 division clocking a very good 8.06 to finish 14th overall.
The men’s 60m was a double for the Campbelltown club with flyer Anus Abu Ganaba finishing in 6.86sec to nudge out great supporter of this event, Jake Lynch of Sydney Pacific in 6.92 and Westfield’s Hayden Kovacic also in 6.92. Ganaba went on to the take out the men’s 100m in a smart time of 10.75, again from Lynch in 10.90.
Winner of the men’s under 20 state title 60m, Joshua Azzopardi, finished 3rd in the open 100me. Best of IBS men in the open 60m title were Lachlan Parry who finished a good 7th overall in 7.18 and Chris Devery in 9th spot in 7.21.
One of the many highlights of the meet was the women’s Bing Lee 1 mile state title. Lining up in a quality field, it was run at a quick pace with former Olympian Victoria Mitchell trying to steal the race, closely watched by teenage star Imogen Stewart then a packed field including local girl from Sydney University Melinda Witchardt.
The former Olympian kept the pace going but the youngster was not going to allow her to take the title, and moved up closely to Mitchell, battling for the title. But they didn’t allow for the speed of Melinda Witchardt, who from 30m back came home with a speed that caught the front runners unawares. Witchardt’s dash to the line in a great time of 4min45.92sec from Mitchell in 2nd and Stewart in 3rd provided one of the best miles run for women for some time.
The Men’s Mile was also a good race with Stefan Music from Randwick Botany taking the title from Oli Raimond from Sutherland and Illawong’s Mark Simpson, Music recording a good time of 4min26.25sec. Raimond, grandson of local former distance champion, Billy Raimond, also took out the under 20 title.
With a fabulous men’s and women’s 3km and a great run from Campbelltown’s Youth Champion Bendere Oboya in the women’s 400m, the evening was on fire.
Oboya set a firing first 200m, and was well on target for a very quick 400m but she cruised home in a time of 54.07. The men’s event was one of the closest every seen with winner Jordan Sarmento recording a solid 47.45 from second placed Keegan Bell in 47.52 and third placed Mathew Wood in 47.67.
Overall the event was classed as one of the best this season by ANSW. Host club IBS produced some good performances also with Josh Smith taking out the boys under 12 60m, Sarah Guevara 1st in the masters 34/39 age bracket, John Lamb 1st in the men’s 65/69 60m, and in what can only be classed as a state line-up, Gianna Mogentale finished 3rd behind Kylie Strong and Jacquie Bezuidehuit, whilst IBS took all three placings in the womens 55/59 with Lynda Douglas 2st from Dianne O’Toole in 2nd and Rina Flynn in 3rd.
Athletes and officials will now be ready for the NSW Country titles to be here in Wollongong on January 26-28 bringing together athletes from all over the state country areas. Run over 3 days, the meet is one of the largest on ANSW calendar and promises to see some top flight athletics once again.