Six of the Best – Victorian Track & Field Championships Week 01

After a frantic week, the Victorian Championships are upon us. Weekend one offers up a raft of intriguing contests, six of the best are detailed here.

Women’s 400m

The one-lap event sees Australian 800m record holder Catriona Bisset (MUAC) continue to work on the shorter distances, recently setting a personal best at the ACT Championships (54.61sec). Challengers for the state title include Collingwood’s Kendra Hubbard (53.44sec), joined by in-form Tess Kirsopp-Cole (55.45sec, Geelong Guild). If there were to be a ‘dark horse’ of sorts in the field – talented 400m hurdler Marli Wilkinson (MUAC) is it. Turning heads this season, dropping her personal best substantially in a commanding B heat HVC win to 55.48sec.

Men’s 1500m

An emergence of junior talent characterises the Men’s 1500m battle. Number 1 bib holder Jaryd Clifford (Diamond Valley) has broken his personal best at will this season, working down to a 3:42.97. Regular middle distance rivals Adam Spencer (Glenhuntly, 3:45.26), Matthew Hussey (Western Athletics, 3:45.39) and Andre Waring (Box Hill, 3:43.46) will feature heavily in last lap fireworks. A dark horse no longer, the Victorian 5000m Champion Tom Thorpe (SSH) will drop down to the 3.75 lap event, fresh off clinching the Victorian title in 14:13.92, his 2018 3:49.25 personal best is likely to see revision.

Women’s 1500m

The influence of junior talent continues in the Women’s 1500m, as formidable 800m, 1500m and 10,000m runners meet over a mutual distance. Recent University of Southern California commit Gigi Maccagnini (South Melbourne, 4:22.75) has shown fantastic 800m form of late, registering a personal best at the ACT Championships (2:05.10). Both particularly adept over 1500m – Abbey Caldwell (Doncaster, 4:13.09) and Madeleine Murray (St Stephens Harriers, 4:10.17) shape as serious contenders. Caldwell started the season with a five-second personal best, whereas Murray has raced sparingly – both pose a substantial threat in a tactical race. Most recently winning the Victorian Mile Championship (4:34.75), Lauren Ryan (Club AV, 4:20.99) has made the most of her time back in Australia, likely challenging for another Victorian title this weekend. A student-athlete at Florida State University, Ryan has similarly set personal bests at 3000m (8:54.54), 5000m (15:49.30), 10,000m (32:16.11) and 10km (32:58) – including winning the Victorian 10,000m title.

Men’s Shot Put

Olympic finalist and national record holder Damien Birkenhead (Corio Athletics, 21.35m) will continue his Olympic preparations at Lakeside this weekend. Birkenhead will be joined by 2018 World Under 20 finalist Aiden Harvey (St Stephens Harriers, 19.36m), Matthew Cowie (OMAC, 17.91m), 2012 Paralympic gold medallist Todd Hodgetts OAM (Ringwood, 13.28m) and 7257pt decathlete Christian Paynter (MUAC, 14.60m).

Men’s and Women’s 100m

Victorian sprinting is in the most proverbially purple of recent purple patches. With many sprinters competing at the ACT Championships last weekend, and warm weather forecast across Victoria – the men’s and women’s fields will be racing for sheep stations (and Victorian titles!).

The women’s field sees the fastest woman in Australia in 2021 Hana Basic (Collingwood, 11.45sec) lead the field. Deciding against travelling to the ACT last weekend with border uncertainty, Basic will look to continue a dominant season. Celeste Mucci (Williamstown, 11.47sec) has shown personal best form in both the sprint and hurdle disciplines this season, breaking the 13-second barrier over barriers in the ACT (12.98sec). Notable challengers include Australian representative Maddie Coates (Williamstown, 11.52sec), and national medallist Brittany Burkitt (Frankston, 11.58sec).

The men’s 100m field will continue what has become a local rivalry, as Jack Hale (Athletics Essendon, 10.12sec) lines up against Jake Penny (Geelong Guild, 10.36sec) and Dhruv Rodrigues Chico (Sandringham, 10.47sec). A daunting challenge for the trio, Collingwood’s Michael Romanin has set a series of personal bests recently, clocking 10.32sec and 20.79sec over 100m and 200m respectively. Picking the eventual Victorian Champion will be made more difficult by the presence of Matt Rizzo (Mornington Peninsula, 10.34sec), Jacob Despard (Athletics Essendon, 10.40sec), Lawson Power (Glenhuntly, 10.64sec) and Cameron De Bruin (Glenhuntly, 10.66sec).