The first Victorian Athletic League event of the 2010/11 season kicked off at the Meadowglen International Athletics Stadium on Sunday. The weather was cold but fortunately the rain stayed away and some of us even got a bit of tan by day's end. The VRTA committee should be thanked for a great day.
The summary of each event is listed below.
The 70m Open was one of the highlights of the meeting. The Les Williams trained, Jason Shepherd, a 36 year old new runner, who had never competed in any athletics competitions surprised the crowd with his dazzling win. Jason ran off 7m and won in a time of 7.56. Jason is still learning how to run as was
demonstrated with his very slow start. But once Jason got going he gave his opposition no chance. We congratulate Jason on first VAL victory and hope it is the first of many. Shaun Hargreaves showed his versatility by running a game second while the much improved Matthew Mifsud ran a gallant third.
The 200m Gift was won by Tabitha West, trained by Marcus Arnold, she upstaged the boys in a fantastic performance. Tabitha ran off 28m and gave the boys no chance when she put a gap on them on the turn, winning in a time of 21.06. Tabitha joins an elite group of women by winning an open gift; this has not been achieved since Cara White won the 400m Gift at Ringwood in 2007. We hope to see Tabitha running in some of the big women's gifts later on in the season.
There were some good runs by the 2009 winner Nick Magree who hung on for second place from Peter Walsh. The final was made up of some quality runners with Matthew Callard, Matthew Hargreaves, Darren Whittaker, Josh Tui and Simon Menz making up the final field. Look out for those runners in the big pre- Christmas gifts.
The backmarkers event was won in convincing fashion by runner Carl Morehouse, who is trained by Nick Fiedler. Carl ran off the scr mark and recorded a winning time of 22.50. Good runs by Daniel Steinhauser, who is back from a year off from the sport and also Kevin Brittain, a Stawell Gift finalists from 2010.
The womens event saw the John Henry trained, Laura Jane Hilditch take the win. Laura looks as though she has undertaken a big pre-season and she should figure prominently in the bigger women's events later in the season. Good runs to Alice Platten and Patricia Fox to fill the placings and nice efforts by the twin sisters of Eleni and Rosemary Gilden to run 4th and 5th. Not sure that anyone knows which one is which but they are both very consistent runners over all distances.
The old boys and girls battled out a good final. The race was delayed when Tom Hecimovic broke at the start of the final. But once they got going there was no doubt about the winner with David Woods streaking away for an impressive first up win. The ever consistent David Haigh flashed home for second and the backmarker of the field Rob Lehmann ran a very good third off 3m.
Sportzbiz have once again put their sponsorship dollars into this successful series. Round one was a keenly contested race. The Nick Fiedler trained Belinda Carusi managed to win her first event by holding off the fast finishing Daniel Bruce and also David Girolomo filling the placings. A nice effort from runner Simon Fitzpatrick running off the 13m mark to finish 4th. The next leg of the Sportzbiz series is at Peninsula on the 4th December.
The 550m was a hotly contested event. The final was made up of a quality field, there was 0.2 seconds between first and third, with the Wally Meechan trained Mark Andrews prevailing for a first up win. A great run by Justin Murphy and Derek Collinge who were close up placings. Shaun Hargreaves was also close up and maybe looking to peak for the Movember Gift.
The first of the mile events for the season saw a very impressive win Mark Hipworth, running off 100m, Mark ashed away with 150m to go and recorded a winning time of 4.38 sec. Once again Sean Quilty showed his strong fitness levels by running home for second, while Sean Beer battled on gamely for third.
The 3200m event was the highlight of the program, runners Josh West and Matthew McDonough cleared the field with two laps to go. They battled with each other right to the finish line, there was only a metre between the pair at the finish, with Josh West just hanging on for a tough victory. Josh ran off 150m and ran a very quick time of 9.11 sec. Sean Quilty battled on gamely for third with Leon Brooks not far away. The next 3200m will be held at the Movember Gift meeting and we anticipate another fantastic event.
Our next event will be held at Tabcorp Park (Melton Harness) with the first series of 400m and 1040m events on Friday 22nd October. The finals of both events will be non-penalty and will carry prizemoney of $2,000 for each event.