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Posted in: Geelong

Geelong Gift 23/2/2014

Over the last few seasons the Victorian Athletic League has been seeking a venue which could give the athletes and spectators an atmosphere similar to that created by the Bay Sheffield carnival conducted each Christmas at Glenelg beach. On Sunday the Geelong organising committee provided the ideal setting at Steampacket Gardens, along the Geelong foreshore with a boardwalk that gave the passing crowd an opportunity to watch the events. Tom Burbidge and the organising committee of Peter Walsh, Paul Kinniburgh, Shane and Elisha Ezard from the Geelong Sprint Club presented a great program with plenty of colour and a boutique 250 metre track which created plenty of keen racing. Geelong hasn’t conducted a VAL carnival for a few seasons, but now there is a venue that is sure to be popular for years to come. 

Geelong Sprint Club 70 metres Open

Jonathon Rogers (8.25m) had the privilege of winning the first heat at the new Geelong carnival and progressed through to the final with a close semi final win. However, Jonathon with a sixth place in the final was unable to maintain the pressure as Mark Hignett (7.25m), a Geelong resident, stormed home to a good win, his first 70 metres victory for some time. Angela Byrt (10m) held on to finish second and Tim Rosen (9.75m) was third, adding to his recent consistent run of placings. Hignett and Rosen dominated the semi finals with runs of 7.69 and 7.67 but Byrt was the surprise effort after only finishing fourth in her semi final. The winning time was 7.62.

Cappadona Concreting 100m Gift

Jonathon Rogers (10.5m) completed a unique double when he also won the first heat of the new Geelong gift, although this time his progress was halted by a classy semi final field. Tasmanian Luke Whitney (7m), a regular visitor to Victoria this season, was able take home the $1400 first prize with a run of 10.68 in the final. The ten heats were an extremely even contest with Dylan Panizza (6m) running the fastest and not far behind, the slowest of the heat winners Marcus Cooper (10m) and Tim Rosen (12m ), both running 10.89. The evenness of the field was such that both Rosen and Cooper made the final. Whitney went through in his semi final defeating Cam Dunbar (6.25m) in 10.78 whilst Shane Ezard (7.5m) held out Rosen and Cooper in 10.73 for the second semi final. In the final Whitney scored by half a metre from Kevin Brittain (4.75m) and Leigh Phelan (8.25m). The back marker, Luke Stevens (2.75m), although finishing last in the final continues to be very competitive off his tight handicaps. Whitney, a previous winner of the Burnie Gift is coached by Ray Quarrell. 

Victorian Cross Country League Novice 1600metres

After a series of consistent placings over the 1600 metres journey Ashley Cowan (145m) broke through for his second VAL win, but his first over 1600 metres, in the VCCL novice. Cowan was also successful in the underage 800 metre event at Maryborough on New Year’s Day. On Sunday, Ashley always had control of the event and on the tight circuit made up his ground early to be in a striking position with 500 metres to travel. He raced to the lead before the bell and defeated his stable mate Jeremy Weeks (100m) by twenty metres with John Harvey (220m) in third place. The winning time was 4.32.0 and Ashley is coached by Mark Hipworth. Ashley automatically qualifies for the restricted final of this event at Stawell on Easter Sunday.

As the VAL year nears the final weeks of the season it may be an opportune time to remind all athletes, distance and sprinters, that a winter competing with the Victorian Cross Country League may be of some benefit. With registration free for first time registrations and only $15 per week entry it’s an ideal way to stay fit over the winter break. Details are available on the website

Greater Constructions 100 metre Novice

Jess Lehmann (19.25m) claimed her first official VAL sash with a runaway win in the 100 metres novice at Geelong. Jess, although a big heat winner, ran the slowest of the four heats but produced the “real deal” in the final to win by a metre and a half in 10.77. In the final Jess, coached by her father Rob, defeated Adrian Burke (12m) and Charlie Moran (11.50m). Although Sunday’s win was the first official win by Jess, her first “VAL” sash win occurred a few seasons ago when she destroyed the field in the time honoured St Bernard’s kids sprint. Her win was memorable not only for the ease of the win but by the magnificent winning speech made by Jess. The St Bernard’s event which attracted entrants from far and wide and assured the winner of further greatness in athletics is in temporary recess.  Jess was also awarded the Billie Jo Petersen award for the best female performance during the Geelong carnival.

Angling Adventures 100m Women’s

Sonya Pollard (15m) added to her tally of VAL wins with a solid victory in the women’s 100 metres sprint at Steampacket Gardens. Although the times were close Sonya went into the final as a heat winner but only the seventh fastest qualifier. Times didn’t matter as she improved under pressure to clock 12.11 to win by more than a metre from Brittany Brymer (7m) and Sarah Blizzard (7.75m). This season Pollard was also the winner of the Ararat women’s 120 metres final.

Bendigo Bank Under 17s 300 metres

The under 17s junior series stepped up in distance at Geelong with two heats over the longer 300 metres trip. The first heat went to Chloe Barnard (50m) in a very close finish from Anthony Dempster (39m) in the quickest time of 38.17. The second heat was marginally slower at 38.20 where the backmarker Nick Milton (2m) grabbed Lachlan Milligan (30m) in another close finish. In the final Anthony Dempster made amends for his near miss in the heat and won the sash and $150 first prize by a few metres from Lee Tzilantonis (50m) and Milligan in 36.92.

Jonathon Walsh Equipment Finance 300m Women’s and Veterans’

Jessie Hart (51m) continued with her successful weekend at Geelong by taking out the final of the women’s and veterans’ 300 metres final. Jessie made it a weekend double following on from her Broo women’s 400 metres win at Stonnington on Friday night. Hart went into the Geelong final with an excellent chance but was sure to have plenty of opposition from Tarryn Fisher (52m) who was the fastest qualifier with a run of 36.93. Kim McDonough (52m), Cara Boustead (41m), Shane Quinn (18m) and Sarah Blizzard (46m) were other in form athletes with winning chances. However Hart worked her way into a prominent position before the home turn and in a close finish managed to hold out McDonough and Fisher in a time of 37.07.  Jessie is coached by Kerry McConnon.

Efficient Concrete Pumping 550m

As in years gone by with the former North Geelong carnival, the new club programmed a 550 metres event and on the tight turning 250 metre circuit the heats and final were exciting and tactical races. Aaron Pooley (54m) won the first heat and the time of 1.13.57 was still the fastest at the completion of the five heats. Tom Hecimovic (81m) was next best with a run of 1.13.97 in the last heat. In the final Hecimovic lead from the out mark from Chris Brown (80m), Katerina Dressler (75m), in her first VAL final, and Pooley in fourth place. Down the back straight the last time the “Hitman” was still in front but Pooley made a charge wide out to take the lead and have a clear margin on the home turn. In the run to the line Pooley won by four metres from Robert Keenan (47m) and Hecimovic in third place. The winning time was 1.12.78, a good effort on the tight track. The winner is coached by Rob Furness.

Country Vic Confectionary 1600 metres

The open 1600metres event was another home town victory with Michael Low (130m) holding out a determined Tayla Sproule (345m) in the time of 4.15.37. Martine Beer (355m) also battled on tenaciously to hold third place from the fast finishing Jacob Reed (135m). Tayla and Martine made good use of the tight track to maintain their handicap advantage for the major portion of the race. Low was still in tenth place with two laps to travel but moved into a prominent third at the bell. Michael raced to the lead before the turn with Sproule and Beer well clear of the rest of the field. For Low, winner of the restricted final at Stawell last Easter, it was his first win for the season but showed good signs that more may follow.