This is a tough round to get through both logistically and physically for the athletes around the course - the course was brutal! With the rain during the week there were many slippery uphill sections and the downhill section in the back half of the long legs was the worst, with two-inch deep mud in places and a huge puddle to skirt around.
We achieved some spectacular results this round and we were one of the few clubs that had all teams that were entered finish and count for points, no DNF or DNS! This was made possible due to the diligence and effort of the sub-committee; Stu, Burkie, Dan Sneyders, John Alchin and Michael Masseni and all athletes turning up to run. Whilst these relays are challenging, there is strategic benefit and the points from the round will improve the chances of premierships and protect teams from relegation. Best results from the day were our three junior teams who all won gold then our best ever result for our Premier men’s team finishing second. Thanks also to our three AV helpers; Michael Masseni, Ben Mudie and Mal Hodgart.
Our women had stronger numbers this round, thanks in part juniors running in open, to field three teams and picked up some valuable premierships points. Our Premier team was kicked off by familiar Premier duo Brianna Bunworth in the long distance then Nardine Bainbridge. Then it was the turn of the 40+ duo Stephanie Thomas and Brigitte Sneyders and finishing for the team, and her debut in the Premier team, U18 Janae Mackrell. It was another consistent, solid performance from the team finishing 7th and has resulted in a move up the ladder to 6th place.
In the Div 3, Mechelle Lane, Janice Hodgart, Claire Hodgart and U14 Charli Sette finished in 5th place, consolidating the team in 3rd place in the ladder. Our Div 4 team was the first for this season and the team of Jo Francken, Alida Weitsz and Hayley Burke for her first run as an open athlete, finished 8th and will put the points on the board to lift them out of relegation.
With strong open men’s numbers and some support from juniors we fielded 5 open teams and a 50+ team. Our Premier men’s team of Liam Cashin, Callum Drake, Matthew Tonge, Ryan Geard, Cody Shanahan and, in his first run back with Western Aths in the open Div, Nathan Pearce. The team finished second behind St Stephens and ahead of Ladder leaders Box Hill and as a result the team has moved into 3rd place in the ladders. Our Div 2 was vastly stronger team this week finishing 4th and have moved off the bottom of the ladder. The Div 5 team also fared well finishing in 5th place and have lifted into 6thplace in the ladders. The Div 7 also did well with the first team finishing 2nd and the second team finishing 5th and congratulations to Natalie Christie in her first XCR. This result for the Div 7 puts the team into 1st place in the ladder.
It was a great set of results from our three junior teams with all winning their respective age groups.
In the Men’s U20, Jackson Glover and Robert Weitsz set the team up well with only a minute separating them from first place, then in the final leg Matthew Hussey found form to overtake the Yarra Ranges athlete and put the team into first and winning by a minute. This win puts the team within 8 points of ladder leaders Yarra Range and a chance for a premiership.
The U18 men was also a very close race with Ethan McMinimee and Liam Morgan setting up the team in first place and Thomas Glover putting in a solid run to bring the team home to win by 8 seconds. They also have a shot at the premiership now in second place, 5 points behind Ballarat Region.
It was a very different story in the women’s U18 and with all athletes being fastest in their respective distances and winning the race by a staggering 4 minutes. Ebony Dodemaide set the team up well in the long leg then Mia White cut another minute and Abigail Thomas put the icing on the cake and dropped nearly 2 minutes on the other teams. The team now leads the ladder by a point are a definite premiership chance.