After one round of relays it really is hard to determine who’s the team to beat. Jells Park seems like forever ago, and with a plethora of individual performances and kilometres under the belt for all athletes, Sandown really is anyone’s game. This weekend is all about fast times and even faster winds. Yep, it’s like doing a lap around Albert Park, but on steroids. Gusts of up to 30km/h are predicted which makes it sweet for half the track, but not so sweet for the other. Basically it’s fine if you’re sitting comfortably in a V8 supercar, but not so fine if you’re using your legs to get from A to B. The good news I guess is that (technically) you’re not going to be doing it alone – you’ll have your teammates there to receive the baton and cheer you on! I still don’t think it’s going to make things any easier though. However (in saying that) I don’t want any of you to take the easy way out! Or as I like to call it ‘doing a Bernard Tomic’. Although if you’re Virginia Moloney, I can see how winning all the time could become quite ‘boring’, but I’m not sure you’d want to retire (financially speaking) from XCR after 10 years. I could be wrong though because our boy Bernie isn’t winning anything, so maybe it’s incorrect to say ‘winning all the time creates boredom’. Or maybe in XCR there simply isn’t anything to get bored about – except for reading these previews!? No doubt your head is spinning and you’re thinking ‘what is this dude on’ and that’s fair enough, I can’t blame you. What I can do though, is guarantee the information below will be on point, unlike our friend Bernies serve – zing.
So let’s see who every team will be gunning for on Saturday…
Box Hill are flying in Men’s Division 1, which means they either had a super pre-season or they’re genuinely the team to beat this year. William Potter is the man leading the charge for Box Hill, with XCR legend Stephen Dinneen holding is own amongst the young-ens.
Western Athletics are on top in Men’s Division 2, which notably doesn’t feature kombucha enthusiast Michael Masseni, but rather the likes of Callum Drake and Liam Cashin, who are both in some solid form this year.
Men’s Division 3 has Athletics Nunawading sitting comfortably above their rivals, with Adrian Mclean the ‘go to man’.
Box Hill join the ‘leader party’ again in Men’s Davison 4, with Welday Mebrahtu holding bragging rights of being the quickest in the team – purely from a Jells Park perspective.
Men’s Division’s 5, 6 and 7 is a real Harriers affair with St Stephens and Richmond in the mix.
Over in the Women’s Division 1 ranking, it’s Glenhuntly who are sitting nicely on top with the likes of Anna Shaw and Karinna Fyfe who are in awesome form, and are dominating on the individual circuit.
Division 2 for the ladies, sees Essendon on the top, after having some help from Rio Olympian Linden Hall at Jells Park. Unfortunately Linden won’t be at Sandown due to European commitments, however, Charlotte Wilson and Emilie Guy are more than capable of getting the job done!
Williamstown look dominant in Women’s Division 3 with doppelgängers Michelle Mathews and Belinda Bozin leading the charge on the track whilst being a sports marketers dream off the track.
For the Women in Division 5 and 6, it’s Knox and Frankston who are looking solid.
Even though it’s a team event, there are always going to be certain individuals to look out for:
- Nicholas Earl (MUAC) – Finished fifth in the Gold Coast Half-Marathon and has ran in just about everything this year, so won’t be surprised if he fronts up and competes for his team.
- Zac Newman (MUAC) – Performs exceptionally well on the pavement!
- Dave Ridley (Doncaster) – Became the Oceania Champion at the Gold Coast Marathon. However, may not be a feature on Saturday due to soreness.
- Liam Adams (Essendon) – Finsihed second in the Gold Coast Half-Marathon. However, may also be a little sore come Saturday.
- Dejen Gebreselassie (Mentone) – Won his first XCR event at Cruden Farm and finished third at the Gold Coast Half-Marathon. Looks to be in really good touch and is definitely shaking things up in the individual events this season.
- Virginia Moloney (Collingwood) – Became the Oceania Champion at the Gold Coast Marathon and is in amazing form. However, may not be a feature for her team due to a well-deserved break.
- Henrietta Lawrence (Frankston) – Smashed the Gold Coast 10km Road Race and looks to be hitting form at the right time of the season!
- Gemma Maini (Frankston) – Ran very well at the Gold Coast 10km Road Race after having minimal competition preparation leading into the event due to injury. Looks to have found her groove again and will be a real threat for the back half of the XCR season.
- Anna Kelly (South Melbourne) – Breakthrough win at Wandin Park, and has been in the mix for most individual events this year. Was recently selected to represent Victoria for the Australian Cross Country Championships in Wollongong and will no doubt be looking to give her team every chance of winning the gold!
- Alexandra Paterson (Old Xaverians) – Finished second at the Gold Coast 10km Road Race, and has been up there in the top three for most of the individual XCR events this season. Looks to be in red hot form!
This Saturday really is going to an exciting day out at Sandown, with the competition looking as close as it’s ever been – much like it is in the AFL. The atmosphere is already set to be electric with Little Athletics Victoria hosting their Victorian Road Relay Championships at the same venue! That being said, parking may get a little trickier as the day progresses, so be sure to allow yourselves plenty time to find a spot for your vehicle. The weather is looking likely to be fairly chilly, so please dress accordingly. We don’t want anyone to catch a cold a week before Victoria’s fastest 10km road race out at the beautiful Albert Park, where in case you were wondering, on-the-day entries will be made available to all those who wish to compete – at the very generous price of $50!
Good luck to all those competing on Saturday, and may the best team win!