Riseley and Patterson ready for Hunter

A mix of Victoria’s best athletes including Jeff Riseley (Knox), Eleanor Patterson (South Coast) and Morgan Mitchell (Western Athletics) will headline a strong start list at the Hunter Track Classic this Saturday at the Hunter Sports Centre in Glendale, New South Wales.

Patterson will travel north just days after jumping 1.91m to take victory at the Victorian Country Championships over the Australia Day long weekend.

The performance launches what will be a big 2015 campaign for the 18-year-old, who will be focused on eclipsing her personal best of 1.96m and preparing for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing this August.

Two-time Olympian Riseley will head to the Hunter region for his first major hit out for the season after a strong finish to 2014 that included making the final in both 800m and 1500m at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

“Training has been going really well, I’ve been doing a lot of it, but you never know until you race and that’s the point of my start at the Hunter. It’s about getting out there and finding out where I am at and what I need to work on,” Riseley said.

“I’m probably going to focus on the 1500m in Australia in the next few months. The distance better suits where I am at with my training in terms of the aerobic work that we need to get done about this time. I’ll definitely be fronting up to Sydney and Melbourne and the result this weekend will help me decide what’s needed between now and then.

“The domestic season is the first step this year, I need to get the qualifiers out of the way and basically use 2015 as a basis for improving on what I did in Glasgow. The depth probably wasn’t as great as it would be at World Championships or something like that, but the top end talent at Commonwealth Games was high quality and I want to replicate running well against them in Beijing and hopefully make a final.”

Riseley will be joined by training partner and Victorian 5000m champion Zak Patterson.

Patterson’s break through 2014 season included a personal best run of 3:44.21 to finish fifth in the 1500m final at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon and the 19-yeard-old proved his fitness after a solid training block at Falls Creek to win the Men’s A 800m race at the Victorian Milers Club in 1:49.05.

Talented Victorian middle distance runners Reilly Shaw (Deakin), Tom Fawthorpe (Ringwood), Brenton Rowe (Deakin), Luke Mathews (St Kevin’s)  and Daniel Clark (Box Hill) will also compete in the highly competitive 1500m event at the second stop on the Australian Athletics Tour.

VIS thrower Damien Birkinhead will look to continue his fine start to 2015 after a personal best of 19.84m at the opening round of the national tour in Hobart.

National 400m champion Mitchell will head to Newcastle for her first serious test against fellow Glasgow Commonwealth Games team mate and 2014 national bronze medalist Caitlin Sargent (NSW) and, after an impressive win and personal best of 54.23 at the Briggs Athletics Classic last weekend, Tasmanian and 2014 IAAF World Junior representative Samantha Lind will be one to keep an eye on in the 400m.

Doncaster’s Katherine Katsanevakis and Knox’s Melissa Duncan will spearhead Victoria’s chances in the 800m along with aspiring 2015 IAAF World Youth athletes Maddison Caulfield and Corrin Demeo.

The Hunter Track Classic is the second instalment of the Australian Athletics Tour, following the Briggs Athletics Classic this past weekend (results review here) and future legs of the series in Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne .

The event will be held at the Glendale Sports Centre this Saturday 31 January, with complete event details available at the Hunter Track Classic website.

For more information on the Australian Athletics Tour, including entry lists and timetable information, please visit the #SUMMERofATHS hub at athletics.com.au.