Vics best set for showdown in the west

A host of Victorian Olympic and worlds representatives including Collis Birmingham, Kathryn Mitchell and Zoe Buckman along with some of the state’s best up and coming talent will head west this Saturday for the Go For 2&5 Perth Track Classic.

Mitchell will reignite her battle with local and 2013 Moscow worlds silver medallist Kim Mickle at the first leg of the Australian Athletics Tour.

The pair along with Canberra’s Kelsey-Lee Roberts was one of the highlights at the Adelaide Track Classic last weekend where Mitchell (66.10m) and Mickle (66.12m) recorded Commonwealth Games ‘A’ standards.
The depth of Victoria’s middle distance running will be on show with Buckman headlining a strong list of six competing in the women’s 1500m event.

Buckman (4:10.49) kicked off her season in Tasmania at the Briggs Track Classic where she recorded a Commonwealth Games ‘B’ standard behind the inform Melissa Duncan (4:10.20).

Duncan’s ‘B’ standard in Hobart was the second of the season after a strong outing at the Hunter Track Classic where she finished second (4:09.98) behind fellow Victorian Kaila McKnight (4:09.87).

2012 London Olympics 1500m semi-finalist McKnight will be another to test Buckman, with a personal best of 4:05.61 there will be a number of Victorian’s eying off the ‘A’ standard of 4:07.00 in Perth and the coming tour meets in Sydney and Melbourne.

Add into the mix 800m worlds representatives Kelly Hetherington, Glenhuntly’s Eliza Curnow who recorded a personal best of 4:11.73 in Sydney early last year and up and coming talent Courtney Powell and Victoria’s women look a dominant force.

There is no shortage of talent in the men’s categories either, London Olympian Jeff Riseley and 2013 worlds representative Alex Rowe along with St Kevin’s Timas Harik will feature in the men’s 800m event.
The trio will have to be wary of New South Wale’s Josh Ralph who impressed in Adelaide last weekend recording a Commonwealth ‘B’ qualifier of 1:46.69 ahead of Rowe (1:48.04).

Current Australian national 10,000m champion Birmingham will line up in the mile 13 days before heading to Sopot, Polland to compete in the 3000m at the 2014 world indoor championships.
Ballarat’s Sam Baird will be one to watch in the 400m as he takes on US 2008 Olympic and 2013 world champion LaShawn Merritt.

Baird along with Deakin athlete Sam Reiser missed the Victorian Junior Track and Field Championships last weekend and the pair will be primed to target a second world junior qualifying standard of 47.25.

Old Melburnians Sam Baines clocked a Commonwealth Games ‘B’ standard with a time of 13.84 in the 110m hurdles at his first hit out at High Velocity in early February, returning to the track after an extensive period of time out with injuries.

Perth will be another good test for Baines to see where he is at, in a bid to make this year’s Commonwealth Games team heading to Glasgow.

A strong mix of men’s javelin throwers including Tasmania’s inform Hamish Peacock will head to Perth this weekend and VIS athlete Luke Cann will be out to work on his 72.41m throw at the Briggs Athletics Classic last month.

On a weekend that saw Canberra’s queen of sprint Melissa Breen break the Australian women’s 100m all-time record in 11.11 and Breen go head-to-head with Olympic champion Sally Pearson at the ACT Track and Field Championships, Diamond Valley sprinter Monica Brennan will once again face off with Australia’s fastest women in the 100m dash in Perth.

Along with Brennan, Sandringham athlete Ashleigh Whittaker and Geelong’s Angela Byrt will double up in the 100m and 200m events.

St Kevin’s sprinter Matthew Bertacco will be Victoria’s sole competitor in the men’s 100m event and heads to Perth after winning at the ACT Track and Field Championships last month with a time of 10.42.
It will be a family affair for siblings Jamie and Brooke Stratton who will compete in the long jump in respective categories.

Victoria will be well represented in the pole vault with Brodie Cross, Blake Lucas, Maz Mishchenko and Joel Pocklington making up four of the six competitors, as well as Queensland’s Matt Boyd who won last night’s Rare Air Club event at Melbourne University with a height of 4.90m in strong cross winds.

Adding to Victoria’s hopefuls on the infield will be 2012 world junior shot put bronze medallist Damien Birkinhead.

Birkinhead recorded a Commonwealth Games ‘B’ qualifier of 18.64m at Zatopek:10 2013 late last year and if he is to throw an ‘A’ of 20.10 it will require a personal best which is currently 19.27m.

Full list of Victorian athletes:

Monica Brennan – 100m & 200m
Angela Byrt – 100m & 200m
Ashleigh Whittaker – 100m & 200m
Hana Basic – 200m
Zoe Buckman – 1500m
Eliza Curnow – 1500m
Melissa Duncan – 1500m
Kelly Hetherington – 1500m
Kaila McKnight – 1500m
Courtney Powell – 1500m
Felicity Black – 400mH
Jess Gulli – 400mH
Kathryn Mitchell – JT
Brooke Stratton – LJ
Matthew Bertacco – 100m
Sam Baird – 400m
Sam Reiser – 400m
Sean Wroe – 400m
Timas Harik – 800m
Jeff Riseley – 800m
Alex Rowe – 800m
Collis Birmingham – Mile
Tim Norton – Mile
Sam Baines – 110mH
Ben Khonbut – 110mH
Tom Robertson – 400mH
Damien Birkinhead – SP
Luke Cann – JT
Jamie Stratton – LJ
Brodie Cross – PV
Blake Lucas – PV
Max Mishchenko – PV
Joel Pocklington – PV

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