What a day/evening of athletics we had when Blue Stars hosted the annual Illawarra Track Challenge last Saturday. Incorporating the State 60m sprint and the State 1 mile championship for both men and women, neither event disappointed and some of the close finishes in all events, were the highlight of the meet. But the throws, as supporting events, took honours also especially in the women’s open hammer for former youth world champion, Alexandra Hulley from Sutherland heaving a massive 64.41m, one of the biggest throws in hammer the Kerryn McCann track has witnessed. She is now laying claims to a spot on the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games.
The Challenge opened on a high with the women’s Kings Sports 60m. Campbelltown's Holly Bender finally took out the title in a good time of 7.54 just defeating Luisa Healey from Sydney University in 7.58 and jasmine Everett from UTS Norths in 7.65. Bender also took out the supporting 100m in a time of 12.16. In the U20 60m Illawong took 1st and 2nd with Carlie McGiver taking the title from club mate Elena Delaveris and Athletics Wollongong's Tierney Dunn in 7.86. IBS junior athlete Emma Matthews just missed a place in the U20 division clocking a very good 8.06 to finish 14th overall.
The men’s 60m was a double for the Campbelltown club with “flyer” Anas Abu-Ganaba finishing in 6.86 to nudge out great supporter of this event, Jake Lynch of Sydney Pacific in 6.92 and Westfield's Hayden Kovacic also in 6.92. Abu-Ganaba went on to the take out the men’s 100m in a smart time of 10.75, again from Lynch in 10.90. Winner of the men’s U20 state title 60m Joshua Azzopardi finished 3rd in the open 100m. Best of IBS Men in the open 60m title were Lachlan Parry who finished a good 7th overall in 7.18 and Chris Devery in 9th spot in 7.21.
One of the many highlights of the meet had to be the women’s Bing Lee 1 mile State title. Lining up in a quality field, it was run at a quick pace with former Olympian Victoria Mitchell trying to steal the race but was closely watched by teenage star Imogen Stewart within a packed field including local girl from Sydney University Melinda Witchard. The former Olympian kept the pace going but the youngster was not going to allow her to take the title, and moved up closely to Mitchell, to struggle and battle for the title. But they didn’t allow for the speed of Melinda Witchard, who from 30m back came home with a speed that caught the front runners unaware. Witchard’s dash to the line in a great time of 4.45.92 from Mitchell in 2nd and Stewart in 3rd provided one of the best miles run for women for some time, and many have classed it as one of the best.
With a fabulous men’s and women’s 3km and a great run from Campbelltown’s Youth Champion Bendere Oboya in the women’s 400m, the evening was on fire and with the one lap event leading into the Bing Lee Mile, many did not expect the mile to produce the standard that it did.
Oboya set a firing first 200m, and was well on target for a very quick 400m but she cruised home in a time of 54.07. The men’s event was one of the closest ever seen with winner Jordan Sarmento recording a solid 47.45 from second placed Keegan Bell in 47.52 and third placed Mathew Wood in 47.67, indicating the closest of the event.
Overall the event was classed as one of the best this season by ANSW but host club IBS Athletes produced some good performances also with Josh Smith taking out the boys U12 60m, Sarah Guevara 1st in the masters 34-39 age bracket, John Lamb 1st in the men’s 65-69 60ms, and in what can only be classed as a state line up, Gianna Mogentale finished 3rd behind Kylie Strong and Jacqualine Bezuidenhout, whilst IBS took all three placings in the women’s 55-59 with Lynda Douglas 1st from Dianne O’Toole in 2nd and Rina Flynn in 3rd
SPECIAL THANKS to our wonderful officials and supporters who spent many hours in preparation, on site and officiating to bring this event to Wollongong and to be classed as one of the best in NSW this year - a big thank you also to ANSW and their band of officials.
OUR SPONSORS: We are pleased that the two major sponsors Bing Lee Warilla and Kings Sports Store came on board for this event. I am sure the athletes are grateful for the support they have received. Thank you very much and we hope to see you combine with us again next year.