Sydney University Athletics Club (SUAC) will send its largest ever representative contingent to an Australian Athletics Championship event held outside of Sydney, when 45 SUAC athletes descent upon Melbourne for this week’s 92nd Championships and Commonwealth Games Selection Trials.
The Championships, which begin tomorrow at the Lakeside Stadium at Albert Park, provide SUAC’s top athletes with another opportunity to push their claims for selection in Australia’s Commonwealth Games squad. Athletics Australia will nominate its initial squad for selection at the conclusion of all events.
One athlete with a firm eye on August’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is sprinter Jarrod Geddes. Geddes will race in both the men’s 100m and 200m events. In the 100m, Geddes will go up against fellow New South Welshman Tim Leathart and SUAC teammate Jin Su Jung.
In the 200m, Geddes – who has a Commonwealth Games B qualifier (CGBQ) – will go head to head with fellow SUAC representatives Nicholas Hough (who finished second in this event last year in Sydney) and Joshua Tassell.
Hough will also back up for the men’s 110m hurdles alongside the second fastest Australian at this distance ever – SUAC’s Justin Merlino. Merlino is returning from a hamstring injury, while Hough has a CGBQ under his belt. They will come up against World Junior Championships representative Sam Baines.
In the men’s 400m hurdles, Ian Dewhurst will tackle fellow CGBQ Tristan Thomas – an Olympic semi-finalist and last year’s defending champion. Dewhurst finished second in this event last year and is a World Uni Games bronze medallist. After trading wins against each other in Sydney and Melbourne this year, this week’s race should be brilliant to watch. Christian Lozada will also compete in this event after recovering from injury.
Three SUAC representatives – Emily Duve, Elizabeth Jenkins and Ella Nelson – will take on Sally Pearson and Melissa Breen in the women’s 100m.
In the women’s 200m, defending champion Breen, CGBQ Pearson and Toea Wisil from PNG will be tough to beat. But that’s just what SUAC’s Duve, Jenkins, Nelson and Anneliese Rubie are aiming to do.
Rubie will race against rival Caitlin Sargent in the women’s 400m. Both girls have recorded victories against each other this season. SUAC’s Jenkins is also competing in this blockbuster event.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, SUAC’s CGBQ Michelle Jenneke (who ran a personal best time of 13.23 in Brisbane last weekend) will test herself against Olympic gold medallist Sally Pearson, CGBQ Hayley Butler and new Sydney Uni student Elizabeth Clay.
New Sydney Uni student Genevieve Cowie and SUAC’s Jo Dawson will race Australian Olympian Lauren Wells in the women’s 400m hurdles.
Another new Sydney Uni student Georgia Wassall will lead SUAC’s charge in the women’s 800m. Wassall, who has run a CGBQ, will line-up alongside teammates Joanna Cubis, Emily Ryan, Rosie Weber and Kelly Young, as well as defending champion Kelly Hetherington and CGBQ Brittany Mcgowan.
SUAC’s Jenny Blundell was just two seconds off recording a CGBQ in the women’s 1500m last time she raced in Melbourne and she will have the opportunity to do so in the same city this week. She will be joined in the race by teammates Milly Clark, Davina Smith, Weber, Young and Ryan. Angela Ballard will continue her distinguished national and international representation in the T53 1500m event.
Josh Ralph can gain automatic Commonwealth Games selection with a win in the 800m having run the Commonwealth Games A qualifier at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge. Ralph is undefeated in 800m competition this season against Australian contenders and will be joined in the race by fellow SUAC representative Alex Pettigrew.
At 1500m distance, Ben Liddy and Pettigrew will take on Olympic representatives Ryan Gregson and Jeff Riseley.
In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, SUAC’s James Nipperess is just three seconds off recording a CGBQ. He will be up against Youcef Abdi, who finished sixth at the 2008 Olympic Games.
In what is building as one of the most competitive races of the entire meet (women’s 5000m), new Sydney Uni students Kate Spencer and Emily Brichacek will take on fellow CGBQ Bridey Delaney (1500m), Madeline Heiner, Victoria Mitchell and Eloise Wellings and World Junior Championships representative Courtney Powell and Australian representative Jackie Areson. Also competing are SUAC teammates Natalie Archer and Clark.
SUAC’s sole walks competitor Nicole Fagan will compete in the women’s 10000m having broken the club 5000m record earlier this year.
Hugh Williams is SUAC’s lone representative in the men’s 5000m. Williams competed in the Zatopak:10 in December which doubles as the National 10000m championships.
CGBQ Amy Pejkovic will be leading the charge for SUAC in the women’s high jump. She will take on a field of competitors that includes four other athletes who have jumped CGBQ.
The competition is equally as tough for SUAC’s Alix Kennedy in the women’s discus event, where she will take on Olympian Dani Samuels as well as Christie Chamberlain and Taryn Gollshewsky. Kennedy’s season best is just 10cm away from a CGBQ.
Other SUAC field event competitors include Christina Grun (women’s javelin), Jacqui Fry (women’s heptathlon), Natalie Apikotoa (women’s triple jump), Miles Coles-Clark (men’s high jump) and new Sydney Uni student Nicholas Van Gelder (men’s long jump).
The 92nd Australian Athletics Championship and Commonwealth Games Selection Trials will be held at the Lakeside Stadium at Albert Park from April 3-6.
For further information regarding SUAC visit www.facebook.com/SUACinfo or www.suac.org. SUAC is also hosting an End of Season Harbour Cruise on Saturday 12 April, details of which can be found on the clubs website and Facebook page.