Kurralta Park sprinter Neil Thomas enjoyed his best start to a season in nine years when he took out the 120m Port Adelaide Gift on Sunday. It was the 27 year old's second Gift sash following on from his Hectorville Gift win in February.
Thomas, running off 10.75m, held on to win from 2007 Bay Sheffield winner Damian Tohl (8.25m) and Grange Surf lifesaver Tjimarri Sanderson-Milera (7.50m) in 12.67 seconds.
Thomas said he put his good form down to enjoying an uninterrupted pre-season program.
"I use to travel a lot for work and could never get a full pre-season in."
"This year I did a full winter's training with no travel."
Sanderson-Milera returned later in the day to win the 300m Novice and confirmed he is looking across the border for his main target this season.
"I will give the Bay (Sheffield) a go, but my aim is the Stawell Gift", Sanderson-Milera said.
Running off the back mark of 18m Sanderson-Milera stormed home to win from Chris Simpson (31m) and Nickolas Berry (27m) in 34.52 seconds.
In her SA Athletic League debut, Unley High School student Moa Engstrom (9.0m) easily won the women's 120m from Grange's Natasha Inglis (12.50m) and Flinders' Tayce Fry (16.75m) in a very quick 14.20 seconds.
The John Hodge coached Engstrom 17, runs with the Western District Athletic club and was a national hurdles finalist last season.
The McKinnon Parade based stable of Michael Buckler won five races for the day including both 1000m events. The open 1000m was a McKinnon trifecta with Matthew Konetschka (85m) beating stablemates Dillon Tee (90m) and Stephen Jelfs (65m). In the next event, Daniel Tregenza (180m) and Mark Howson (205m) scored a McKinnon quinella to hold out 3rd placed Salvador Jurado (50m).
McKinnon Parade won all three 550m events with Ben Sieben scoring in the Open, SANFL field umpire Eleni Glouftsis taking out the women's and Corey Watkins winning the Under 20's.
In other events, Western District's David Miller won the Over 35's 120m, Camden's Bradley Harvey won the Under 17's 300m and 13 year old Sophie Bonner won her first sash when she took out the Under 14's 120m.
During the carnival the Member for Port Adelaide, Susan Close announced the state government had approved a junior development grant of $4,500 to the Port Adelaide Athletic Club.
The next SAAL carnival will be on Sunday 27th October at Flinders University.