Illawarra Blue Stars kept the club’s fine tradition alive with some wonderful performances in a highly competitive State Relays Championships. Combining youth with seniors and masters, the club entered 18 teams and were not disappointed. Day one started with a great silver medal to the men in the under 18 high jump team. Comprising Jye Shumack, Nicholas Horton and Andrew Lau (all of IBS) and Athletics Wollongong Robbie Marks, the men jumped beautifully to push the highly fancied Illawong team. The under 14 girls of Emma Matthews, Charlotte Smith, Arian Lopreiato and Hayley Kolts all ran with determination and courage and fought all the way in both the 4 x 200m and 4 x 800m.
The club’s open men’s and women’s teams were two of the most unlucky teams. The open men’s team in the 4 x 100m of Kyle Grubnic, Lachlan Parry, Joel Botton-Noonan and Cameron Chisholm missed the final by only 1 spot, Chisolm running the 3rd leg with a strained hamstring. The women were one of the youngest on the track in the open 4 x 100m with U16 athlete, Margaux Chauvet, U18 Kate Lewis, andnewcomer to Blue Stars Open athlete Gabby Rhodes, teaming up with masters athlete Gianna Mogentale, to also miss the final by only one spot. In what has to be described as one of the best fields in both open men and women for some time, the performances of both the club’s open teams was outstanding.
Masters women’s team of Janie Hamilton (Nowra) Rina Flynn, Lynda Douglass and Gianna Mogentale took their first medal of the weekend when they took out 3rd in the 200+ 4 x 400m but were not finished when, with Annette Mead substituting for Janie in the 4 x 200m to take out a well deserved 2nd placing. The club’s masters men’s team were depleted a little with Mick Daly and Peter Shepherd out due to injury, but master’s women stood up to the test with Lynda Douglass and Gianna Mogentale teaming with John Lamb and John Van Stappen to take out 3rd in the 240+ men’s 4 x 200m. Mogentale then teamed with Darrin James, John Lamb and John Van Stappen to take home the bronze in the men’s 200+ plus 4 x 100m. There were some close finishes with 4th in the men’s 200+ 4 x 400m. The men's 4 x 400m of Geoff Hynoski, John Lamb, Darrin James and Gianna Mogentale ran a superb race and although they did not bring home a medal, their performance was gallant in the men's 200 age bracket.
The performances of all athletes was a tribute to them all, but athletes who backed up on many occasions to help their team mates form teams is a credit to them. Relays always bring out the best in athletes and we saw this on the weekend with some athletes giving away a lot in age but not being deterred by the older, more experienced athletes.
Athletes will now continue their training with the next major meet to the Illawarra Track Classic on 14 January followed by the NSW Country titles to be held in Dubbo. All club members will be notified of these major meets but are reminded to check ANSW web site for entries etc.