Illawarra Blue Stars have always had a great reputation of not only supporting the NSW Relay titles but doing very well, and especially against the much bigger clubs such as UTS Norths and University.
This year's relays were no different and the support of one another and the team sportsmanship really shown out among the members taking part.
Our under 14 men's team of Luke Arregui, Matthew Arregui, Joshua Smith and Zaidyn Phan gained 12th overall in the 4x200 and 11th in the 4x100. This was the first time together and shows great promise for these young athletes. They were joined by their club mates in the under 16 men, Calem Brown, Zaidyn Phan (doubling up) Rhys Barnes and Alex Harris, taking out 11th overall in the 4x100 and a great 6th in the 4x200. Once again, this is the first time these boys have run together and are a very promising quartet for coming years.
IBS members Jonty Faulkner, Zake Gander and Corey Williams teamed with Athletics Wollongong's Gabb Bickle in the under 20 4x100 to take out a very close 5th and then teamed up in the 4x400 to finish 5th again, with Nowra's Lachlan Kaszonyi in place of Williams, in what can only be described as some of the best under 20 competition relays we have seen for some time. Our men, Jake Gander, Rhys Barnes, Jonty Faulkner and Andrew Lau took out a well deserved 4th placing in the under 18 men's 4 x discus.
Our open men were superb and showed that team understanding, great baton changing, and good, hard solid sprinting will always put teams in the top positions. People were on their feet with the strong university team comprising two Aussie reps taking the title, but it was the 2nd placing of our men in the 4x100 that impressed. The university team paid tribute to our men, who they described "as a very hard team to defeat". Comprising Lachlan Parry, Chris Devery, Cameron Chisolm and Kyle Grubnic, they fought hard and the silver medal was a great reward for their top effort. They also backed up in the 4x200 to take a very close 4th with Corey Williams replacing Kyle Grubnic who was unavailable for this event.
Our Masters men showed what it is like to combine, and strong wins in the 240 plus 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 were as impressive as any sides. John Van Stappen, John Lamb, Colin Clarson, Andrew Roda, teamed in the winning 4x100 and 4x200, with Mark Harris coming into the 4x400 in place of Roda. They also combined with Harris to take 4th in the 200 men's 4x100, and female sprinter Gianna Mogentale running with the men in the 4x200 to take out 4th placing once again.
Our women were just as impressive but it was the sportsmanship of our open women that shone out. Up against some of the leading female sprinters in the land, this was not going to deter Kaitlyn Neto, Jessica Hogg, Kaisha Edwards and Sara De Vies in the 4x200 taking out 7th overall, and then teaming with Errin Smart from Nowra to form a medley team taking out 6th overall. Rebecca Dos Santos came into the 4x100 on Sunday , and the girls once again showed teamwork to finish in 11th spot overall.
The masters ladies have a great tradition and this year they were excellent. Our South Coast team of Errin Smart (Nowra), Gianna Mogentale, Sara Guevara and Rina Flynn took the gold in the 160 4x100 in an impressive display of running. In the same division Dianne O'Toole came into the team with Flynn, Guevara and Smart to be placed 4th overall in the 4x200.
In the women's section 200 plus, the ladies of Mogentale, O'Toole, Flynn and Lynda Douglas ran an impressive relay to finish a strong third in the 4x100, behind the top UTS team but our ladies backed this up with a gold medal in the 4x200 with Errin Smart, Rina Flynn, Di O'Toole and Gianna Mogentale in the same age bracket.
What a great weekend with relays showing that club members are brought together, sometimes for the first time, and show they are a force to be reckoned with against some of the more fancied sides. Well done Blue Stars and South Coast.