Sydney University Athletics Club capped a standout 2023 by being awarded the Treloar Shield, a weekly team-based competition that allows athletes to contribute to a club point score and qualify the club for the final.
The Athletics Club’s stellar year included some wonderful performances at the 2023 UniSport Australian National Championships, held at the Gold Coast Performance Centre in April, with the women’s team retaining their national title and the men’s team finishing runners-up.
SUAC’s women competitors claimed the title with 144 points, ahead of The Australian Catholic University (80) and Macquarie University (75), while the University of Queensland claimed the men’s title with 127 points, ahead of the University of Sydney (122) and Queensland University of Technology (97).
With 10 Championship records broken, the 2023 UniSport Nationals ranked as one of the most successful university competitions in Australian history. Among the outstanding performances that resulted in new UniSport records were SUAC’s Alyssa Lowe in the women’s long jump, the women’s 4x100m relay team, and Kailyn Johnson in the long jump ambulant. SUAC had 55 competitors, captained by Charlotte McGill and Oscar Pursey, at the Championships, which attracted athletes from 40 universities around Australia.
SUAC ended the 2023 winter season with nine members competing at the World Championships in Budapest, including current students Mackenzie Little, Allanah Pitcher, and Erin Shaw. The club came away with two bronze medals through Nicola Olyslagers in the women’s high jump and Mackenzie Little in the women’s javelin and three top 20 finishers in sprinter Rohan Browning, Cameron McEntyre in the men’s javelin and club captain and six-time World Championship representative, hurdler Shelly Jenneke.
Olyslagers cleared 1.99m for her bronze and bettered that at the Diamond League track and field meet in Eugene, Oregon, the following week with a 2.03m clearance to set a new Australian mark, while Little threw 63.38m for her bronze in the javelin.
Browning ran 10.11 in the men’s 100m semi-finals to finish 14th overall, Michelle Jenneke ran 12.80 in the women’s hurdle semi-final to finish 14th overall, and Cameron McIntyre threw 78.10m in the men’s javelin to finish 19th overall.
SUAC’s other World Championship representatives included Allanah Pitcher, who finished 21st in the women’s 35km walk; Jacob McCorry, who finished 28th in the men’s 110m hurdle; Erin Shaw, who cleared 1.80m in the women’s high jump to finish 29th; and Nick Andrews, who ran 13.92 in the men’s 110m hurdle to finish 39th. With Angie Ballard and Sarah Clifton-Bligh having competed at the Paris World Para Athletics Championships in July, the total contingent of 2023 World Championship representation was 11.
Earlier in the season, the SUAC men’s A team won the 2023 Athletics NSW Winter Road and Cross-Country Premiership which featured 29 clubs. They won the Half Marathon Championships, the Cross-Country Championships, and the Short Course Championships and finished second in the Sydney10 and third in the Cross-Country Relays and Road Relays. It was SUAC’s 9th premiership win out of the last 10 contested Winter Premierships. The SUAC men’s B team finished 5th this year.
SUAC was also runners-up to a strong Run Crew team in the Women’s Premiership. SUAC’s women’s team had won the premiership each year from 2013 to 2019.
Following an Australian record for the 35km walk, winning the NSW 10km walk championship and finishing 21st at World Championships, Allanah Pitcher was named 2023 NSW Walker of the Year, while Lockie Townsend finished 3rd in the NSW Winter Runner of the Year to Ben St Lawrence and Ed Goddard.
Meanwhile, SUAC has two new club record holders James Nipperess in the half marathon and Allanah Pitcher. Nipperess claimed the record from the previous holder, Liam Adams, with a run of 64:40 in the Gold Coast event, while Pitcher, an Elite Athlete Program member, broke the Australian 35km walk record with a time of 2:50.23 in Japan before attending the World Championships in Budapest. She was later named NSW Female Winter Walker of the Year.
In other results, Sarah Clifton-Bligh won the Elite 10km wheelchair Sydney10, Drew Fryer finished second in the NSW Short Course Cross-Country Championships, and Joe Burgess finished third in the| Half Marathon Championships. Lockie Townsend and Audrey Amiya-Hall were named male and female Winter Athletes of the Year for the H. (Henley) Harrison Shield.
The club closed out a memorable year with 14 medals at the three-day NSW Relay Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre.
The Relay Championships are the biggest club event in the country by number of teams and competitors and SUAC entered the most number of teams of any NSW club in Open divisions at the championships.
Club captain, Olympian Shelly Jenneke, competed in six events on the Saturday of competition, while SUAC also had World Championship representative Allanah Pitcher in the ranks along with many new members debuting in relays and several younger athletes competing in Open divisions.
SUAC’s gold medals came in:
Mixed 4x Distance Medley Relay -| Lachlan Townsend, Obssa Youssouf, Erin Blundell and Julia Baxter;
Men’s Long Jump – Andy Leung, Hunter Folkes, Angus Clark and Tom Galvin;
Women’s High Jump – Alexandra Harrison, Michelle Jenneke, Lily Tilt and Alicia MacMillan; and
Men’s 4x800m – Lachlan Townsend, Obssa Youssouf, Sebastian Havens and Marc Girard.
SUAC’s silver medallists included:
Women’s Long Jump – Kailyn Joseph, Alexandra Harrison, Ella Koster and Alicia MacMillan;
Women’s 4x400m – Sally Guthrie, Julia Baxter, Jess Quilter-Jones and Rebecca Bennett;
Women’s Javelin – Ella Koster, Tali Baltineshter, Lily Allport and Katrina Blackett;
Men’s 4x200m – Jack Lynch, Michael Jeffery, Tom Tucker and Aaron Jeffrey; and
Men’s 4x1500m – Lachlan Townsend, Sebastian Havens, Obssa Youssouf and Ben Graham.
And the bronze medallists were:
Men’s 4x Sprint Medley Relay – Lachlan Townsend, Obssa Youssouf, Seb Havens and Michael Liu;
Men’s 4x400m – Damien Mizzi, Jack Lynch, Marc Girard and Aaron Jeffrey;
Women’s 4x800m – Aspen Lambert, Caitlin Roach, Audrey Amiya-Hall and Niamh McMahon;
Women’s 4x1500m – Aspen Lambert, Audrey Amiya-Hall, Emma Blanch and Abigail Gilbert; and
Women’s Shot Put – Michelle Jenneke, Ella Koster, Lily Tilt and Katrina Blackett.