Stangewitz only qualified for the final as a fastest ‘loser’ when he was beaten by Victorian Jack Doderico in the fifth heat after leaving his run too late. It was the first time a non-heat winner has won the state’s most prestigious 400m event since Peter Crisp in 1989.
The Southern District’s sprinter started more aggressively in the final from his 23m handicap, charging to the front before the turn and opening up a decisive lead to win in 47.59secs from Bryce Watkins (15m) and Deng Bulabek (23m).
The final was dominated by the state’s best 800m athletes with Dylan Stenson, Harry May, Sam Russell and Watkins all qualifying after strong heat wins. Meanwhile Stangewitz had entered the race off the back of some impressive sprint form including a win over 200m at Tea Tree Gully a fortnight ago.
The Aldinga footballer conceded he was worried about getting caught back in the pack and being over-run by pre-race favourite Stenson.
“I was absolutely terrified” he said.
“I’ve learned from previous finals that I had to get to the front and stay on the inside.”
It was Stangewitz’s first podium finish from four Camden finals and the first win for his coach Ali Saliu.
At 41, Mother-of-four Katherine Dini (42m) became the oldest winner of the Women’s Classic when she stormed away from Karen Long (46m) and Teagan Kustermann (36m) to win in 53.80secs.
After finishing 2nd in the 2002 Classic, Dini left the sport to concentrate on her family and her works as an optometrist. The Jon Anderson coached athlete returned this season after more than a decade away to win the biggest race of her career.
Another 41-year-old, Tim Johnson wound back the clock to win the 120m Open Gift. Seventeen-year-old runner-up Lewis Abdul hadn’t even been born when Johnson last won the Gift in 1998.
Backmarker Jacob Cocks (90m) worked his way through the field with a well-judged race to take out the 1600m Open from Flinders’ Lachlan Scott (98m) and McKinnon Parade’s Corey Watkins (135m).
Seacliff beach sprinter Lily Drummond won her first junior sprint since 2013 when she took out the Under 20 Girl’s 120m. In the Under 20 Boy’s 120m, Somerton Park’s Tom O’Malley returned to the track where he made his debut in 2012 to win his first SA Athletic League sash. O’Malley beat his stablemate Alex Martini who later in the afternoon romped in the Under 17’s 400m in 50.80secs.
Camden’s Xavier Robins won his first sash taking out the under 14’s 120m from stablemate Bailey Giles.
Coastals Athletic Club won two races with Scarlett Hosking (120m Women’s) and Hunter Rubino (800m Novice) while Ali Saliu’s Southern stable enjoyed a treble with Classic winner Stangewitz, Over 35’s 400m winner Salvador Jurado and Meg Bentley first home in the Under 17 Girl’s 400m.