By Sean Whipp
7 to watch
Weekend two of the Victorian Track and Field Championships provides a series of fascinating showdowns between Victoria’s very best.
Race walking fans will have three recognisable names gracing the track, as Olympian Rhydian Cowley (Glenhuntly, 19:26.76) sets off for 12.5 laps of the track. A competitive battle looms between training partners Alana Barber (NZL, 21:59.41) and Commonwealth Games champion Jemima Montag (MUAC, 21:32.68.
Men’s & Women’s 200m
Victorian sprinting has been spoilt over the last week, with a series of exciting races locally and interstate. With 13 sub-22 second entries in the Men’s event, picking a podium poses difficulties usually found at Flemington. With the Victorian 100m champion and reigning Victorian 200m champion Dhruv Rodrigues Chico (Sandringham, 21.34sec) backing up from weekend one, a 21.34sec personal best run into a -2.7m headwind in 202 might see alterations.
A serious brood of challengers awaits Rodrigues Chico, namely, one of Australia’s fastest men – Jack Hale (Athletics Essendon, 20.93sec). Hale’s “NWI’ 20.62 200m run has been the source of many questions over the years, all directed in the ‘how fast could he go?’ bucket.
Dependent on backing up from racing in Canberra, Michael Romanin (Collingwood, 20.79sec) has entered alongside Victorian 400m champion Ross Hyne (OMAC, 21.65sec).
Picking something as straightforward as a final is anything but, with notable entrants including Luke Stevens (Western Athletics, 20.90sec), Will Johns (Glenhuntly, 20.90sec), Lawson Power (Glenhuntly, 21.17sec), Cameron Searle (Athletics Essendon, 21.27sec), Cameron De Bruin (21.31sec), Michael Hansford (21.52), Josh Perdrisat (Geelong Guild, 21.62sec), Jacob Sesar (Corio, 21.69sec) and Marcus Guglielmino (Athletics Essendon, 21.73sec).
As noted, 200m depth hanging from the rafters.
The Women’s field poses similar difficulties in making a final. In-form Hana Basic (Collingwood, 11.37sec/24.52sec) leads the field post-Canberra racing permitting, with a raft of contenders including Australian representative Maddison Coates (Williamstown, 23.06sec), Kendra Hubbard (Collingwood, 23.70sec) and Jessie Andrew (Williamstown, 23.91sec). Enter Matt Carter’s Mornington Peninsula sprinting stable – led out by Victorian 400m Champion Alexia Loizou (24.02sec), Sophia Fighera (23.70sec) and Ebony Lane (24.19sec).
Men’s and Women’s 800m
The Men’s two-lap title sees several week one 1500m contenders step down in distance, with Victorian Champion Adam Spencer (Glenhuntly, 1:52.19) likely to cause serious headaches. The Glenhuntly teenager broke the 1:50 barrier in a wintry time-trial and has left scorched earth in his wake each time he’s suited up for his preferred 1500m event. Spencer will be challenged primarily by Victorian Milers Club A-heat regulars Matthew Hussey (Western Athletics) who’s 3:44.98 personal best last week suggests a 1:54.65 800m personal best won’t see Sunday and VMC weapons Darcy Powne (Box Hill, 1:50.43), Jacob Reed (Deakin, 1:50.70), Jake Stevens (Mornington Peninsula 1:50.78).
The Women’s race sees the return of Victorian 1500m champion Abbey Caldwell (Doncaster, 2:08.43); the teenage wunderkind closed a tactical 1500m final last weekend in ~2:07 and has looked threatening throughout the season. Making the title fight rather interesting, two-lap specialist Gigi Maccagnini (2:05.10) continues the youthful theme, with seasonal returns from the likes of Shanie Landen (Maccabi, 2:05.76), Ellie Sanford (Box Hill, 2:07.53) and Rochelle Kennedy (Western Athletics, 2:08.54).
Men’s and Women’s 400m Hurdles
Small fields have resulted in veritable match races for the states very best, with exciting head-to-head racing between Luke Major (Glenhuntly, 51.15sec), Conor Fry (SKAAC, 51.32sec) and Harvey Murrant (Geelong Guild, 51.67sec). Look for relative event newcomer Michael Tsotsos (Glenhuntly, 52.82) to cause a few headaches.
The Women’s field pits a rapidly improving newcomer against an established cast of Victorian medallists. An intriguing battle builds between top seed Daniela Roman (Williamstown, 56.59sec), 400-metre star Marli Wilkinson (59.35sec), Ashleigh Palmer (Glenhuntly, 59.45sec) and Stephanie Larkin (Doncaster, 1:01.53).
Those of the field event flavour are in for a strong weekend of throws and jumps, as Australian representative and Victorian podium fixture Kim Mulhall (Sandringham, 58.53m) takes on Emma Berg (South Bendigo, 45.65m), Aaliyah Canepa (Western Athletics, 49.65m) and Emily Ryan (Mentone, 41.46m).
Women’s Pole Vault
A field with seven 3.70m-plus jumpers, prodigious junior national title winner Cassidy Bradshaw (Chilwell, 4.15m) tops the field. Providing additional podium difficulties, look for Olivia Gross (Geelong Guild, 4.00m), Tamara Mancuso (MUAC, 3.90m), Katherine Ianello (MUAC, 3.85m), Kate Abfalter (MUAC, 3.85m), Georgia Tayler (Box Hill, 3.80m) and Alana Green (KSB, 3.70m).
Any athletic fan or aspiring field eventer needs to ensure they are present and attentive 10.45 am Sunday – as Oceania record holder Kathryn Mitchell (Eureka, 68.92m), the 7th furthest javelin thrower in global history, takes to the runway.