The Ararat Highland committee once again produced a surface that is second to none on the Victorian Athletic League calendar. The track was fast but a solid head wind made quick times difficult on the day. The raised rope lanes are always a highlight on any sprint track. The entire Ararat committee are to be commended on the track preparation and activities on the day. The highland dancing, bagpipes and Little Athletics added to a very pleasant day.
Notes; (1) The first round of the cricket 300m Gillette dash for cash was held before Christmas with Steve Fabris(13m) winning from Cara Boustead(47m) and Darci Hughes(8m). Those three will progress into the final on January 27th. The second and third rounds will be run at the MCG on January 9th and 21st. The first round was a helter skelter affair with the backmarkers finding it hard to get into the finish in the big field and tight track. The VAL are currently working with the sponsors to try to find a suitable finishing position as the first round finish didn’t allow for those coming from the rear. The entries for the next two rounds are made up of some of the VAL’s best athletes with the likes of Baird, Robinson, Wiltshire, Zeed, Fitzpatrick, Coote, Hoskins, Jamieson, White-Alikakaos, Steinhauser, Marr and Katie Moore from the women’s. The final is sure to be a “cracker’ but heat selection is going to be difficult and many accomplished runners will unfortunately miss a run in the next two rounds. (2) The VAL stewards wish to advise that runners who compete in an event, after already having qualified for a final, do so at their own risk. (3) Anyone wishing to add to their literary portfolio, and maybe square off a few old scores, by writing the Rye Wrap please see Tom Burbidge or Brian Marantelli at Maryborough or Daylesford. The current writer has a session at “remedial comma school”.
John Antonio Memorial Gold Rush 70mts
Kelly Sheldrick (7.75m) and Cam Dunbar (4.5m) clashed in heat four, the fastest, of the sprint with Kelly getting the nod by 1/100th of a second over Cam in the time of 7.75.They both progressed through to the final by each winning one of the two semi finals, Sheldrick in 7.75 and Dunbar in 7.83. In the final, it was Sheldrick who maintained the momentum with a clear win in the best of the day,7.72. Dunbar held down second place with Tom Morehouse (9m) finishing in third place. Finishing behind the placegetters were Paul Tancredi (4m) and Nathan Dixon (5.5m), both finding some early form for future gifts. Nathan returning from a period out of the sport and Paul in between overseas holidays. The win was a “pyrrhic “victory for Sheldrick as he injured himself and was unable to take his place in his gift heat.
East Malvern Bendigo Bank under 20s 120m
Ballarat athlete Jordon Keast (12m) showed scant regard for his stablemate Jess Lehmann (23m) in winning the final of the under 20s at Ararat in 13.11. Jordon clocked the fastest heat and held his form to win by nearly a metre from Jess and the very promising Nick Milton (8m) in third place. Jordon’s win was his second with the VAL, previously winning a novice at Noble Park. Jess Lehmann, not only has to contend with stable runners denying her a maiden win, but then has to stave off her parents when she competed in the women’s and veteran events later in the day. Both Jess and Jordon are coached by Robert Lehmann, better known for skulking in the background of various newspaper articles for the Ballarat Courier.
Coiltek Women’s 100m
The latest addition to the VAL handicap panel, Sonya Pollard (14.75m), took out the final of the women’s gift with a clear win from Jacqueline Scott (17.5m) and Narelle Lehmann(6m). Sonya finished third in her heat behind Tiffany Boatman (10.25m) and Narelle Lehmann but was able to produce her best in the final to overturn the earlier result. Pollard’s winning time was 12.24, the fastest of the day. Sonya will combine her running with handicapping the junior events this season.
Canton Lead Women’s and Veterans’ 300m
Narelle Lehmann(43m) improved on her earlier placings to scoot around the bend in the 300 metres final in 36.46. Narelle recorded the fastest heat with a 36.56, only slightly slower than her final time. Greg Hilson(29m) showed his best form for a while with a fast finishing second just ahead of Katilyn Bryce (56m). Narelle is coached by husband Robert, or so he thinks.
Tom Mcdonald Memorial 120m Gift
South Australian, Ryan Hancock (9m), made a handy profit from a quick trip across the border when he pocketed $3000 for his win in the gift final on Monday. Ryan joined a growing list of interstaters who have targeted this event over recent years. Adam Moore (2012), Andrew Steel (2008) and Arthur Muzelenga(2005) are a few of the interstate athletes to have their names on the Tom McDonald Memorial winners list. Ryan made his intentions known early when he recorded the fastest heat of 12.86, Marcus Cooper(11.75m) the only other runner to break thirteen seconds on the windy track. Those two athletes were first across the line in the semi finals with Hancock again the faster with a 12.76 against Cooper’s 12.86. In the final, it was again Hancock who showed the way but Paul Tancredi (8.5m) and Cam Dunbar(7.25m) improved on their early runs to hit the line together for the minor placings. Tancredi got the decision by 1/1000th of a second over Dunbar with Cooper finishing in fourth place. Ryan a previous dual Bay Sheffield finalist is coached in Adelaide by Aaron Harrison.
400m Sportzbiz Novice.
The Sportzbiz novice events are always good races to watch as the rising stars of the VAL show their talent. The Ararat final was fought out between two Bendigo stable mates with Dane Heiden(50m) just getting the better of Kyle Hilson(84m) over the final few metres. Danielle McDowell, the early leader, held on for third, with heat winner Fraser Heard in fourth place. Dane Heiden is coached by John Knott and the winning time was 47.89.
The Allan Blachford Memorial 400m Handicap
Nick Milton (24m) came down the outside with a barnstorming finish to win running away in the final of the 400 metres open handicap. Going into the final Nick was clearly the man to beat, being the only heat winner to break fifty seconds with a run of 48.58. Milton defeated David Woods(39m) in 49 seconds with David Girolamo(42m) in third spot.
Dr Ian Matthews’ Memorial 1600m
The South Australian invasion continued in the metric mile with an Adelaide quinella to the Michael Buckler duo of Tim Earle (100m) and Matt Konetschka(125m) fighting out the finish in 4.13.56. Both runners sat well back in the field for the majority of the race only making gradual ground on the leaders for the first two laps. Lisa Roberts(390m) led early from Martin Beer (350m) and Jessica O’Hara (345) with these runners looking likely to fill the placing coming to the bell. As the ladies cleared out down the back straight the Buckler pair put the foot (or feet) on the accelerator with Earle, at first, leaving Konetschka behind and quickly gathering in the leaders to win very easily in the home straight. Konetschka powered to the line for second and Beer held third. The ease of the win suggest that a Maryborough win is a distinct possibility for the winner and maybe even for both South Australians. Ashley Cowen (135m) battled on well for fourth just ahead of the gallant effort by Jessica O’Hara.