Flinders athlete Luke Houlihan stamped himself as the man to beat for this year's Bay Sheffield with an emphatic sprinting display in the Pre-Bay Gift at Colley Reserve last Saturday. It was the former basketballer's first 120m sash since winning last year's Bay Sheffield 120m Restricted in his debut season. Houlihan, running off 7.50 metres had a metre to spare to dual Bay Sheffield finalists James Cibich (6.50) and David Gross (10.25). Houlihan's winning time of 12.86secs was exceptional given the strong head wind.
Houlihan said he was delighted to hit his best form with three weeks to the Bay Sheffield.
"I wasn't sure where I was at, with my form until today", he said.
"Once I put my foot down I felt great".
Houlihan will finalise his Bay Sheffield preparation at the Brighton carnival this Sunday.
After making numerous finals in the past two seasons, James Cibich finally broke through for his first 70m win. Cibich lunged at the line to beat his stable mate Brad Schutz and West Beach's Paul Taylor.
Teenage sprinter Helene Schwerdt upstaged her older rivals in the 70m Women's beating Nicola Coomb and Czenya Cavouras. Schwerdt 14, is a beach sprinter with the Grange Surf Lifesaving Club.
Western District state sprint champion Leanne Hodge demonstrated her versatility with a come from behind win in the Women's 550m.
McKinnon Parade's Corey Watkins won his second consecutive 1600m adding the Pre-Bay to his Sacred Heart sash from last week.
McKinnon Parade also enjoyed a Frontmarkers' double with Lisa Roberts leading all the way to win the Women/Over 35 1600m and David Girolamo making the most of his 72m handicap to do likewise in the 550m Open.
Reynella's Ryelie McMullan and Grange's Cassidy Dorian each enjoyed their first win when they respectively won the Girl's and Boy's Under 20's 70m races.
Sacred Heart student Jack Norris demonstrated he could be one to watch for the future with a brilliant win in the Boy's Under 17's 120m. Norris had only debuted the previous week and oozed class as he went to the line ahead of his Coastal's stablemate Liam Jones.
In the Girl's Under 17's 120m, Grainne Henry won her third sash when she flew home off the scratch mark.
In the junior 550m events, Flagstaff Hill's Stephanie Bevan won her second race this season in the Under 14's while in the Under 20's, Camden's Kyle Roberts easily won his second consecutive 550m sash.
Team Townley continued its dominance of the veterans' events with a clean sweep of the placings in the Over 45's 120m with John Turner nudging out stablemates Brett Stokes and Michael Cassidy. Later in the day, coach Paul Townley saw another of his charges, Lyn Peake bravely hang on to win the Over 35's 550m.