The Sydney University Athletics Club (SUAC) will field its strongest ever line-up at the NSW State Relay Championships at Sydney Olympic Park this weekend, with international performers Lara Tamsett, Anneliese Rubie, Lachlan Renshaw and Nicholas Hough adding star power to a talented group of athletes.
Barring injury and poor weather conditions, SUAC has the rare chance to potentially medal in every open track event on the men’s’ and women’s program. Add to this the possibility of breaking a couple of long standing NSW records and it looks to be a very exciting weekend for the athletics club.
In the women’s track program the standout team is the women’s 4x1500m team, which consists of City to Surf Winner Lara Tamsett, who recently finished in the top 16 at the World Half marathon Championships; former 1500m NSW champion Kelly Young; Australian 3000m steeple champion Milly Clark; and exciting junior prospect Eliza Barton. The real race here will be against the clock, with the girls in the mix to break the NSW Relays record which has stood since 1990 at 18.45 – this time appears to be well within the team’s capabilities.
In the women’s sprint events, SUAC looks to be traveling just as strongly with the 4x200m team consisting of SUAC debutant and Australian 4x100m World Championships representative Charlotte van Veenendaal; Australian 4x100m World Championships representative Anneliese Rubie; multiple SUAC medalist at NSW and AUG level Esther Muller; and Hannah Gibbs, who is returning to some good form.
The women’s 4x400m team should face their stiffest competition from the Newcastle region team who last year broke the NSW record to win this event. The SUAC team of Rubie, Van Veenendaal, Muller and Holly Pobjie will be very competitive, but this race looks to be one of the highlights of the weekend with each team having two Australian representatives in their ranks.
The other event where the SUAC women could challenge a NSW record is the medley relay. The team of Rubie (800), Van Veenendaal (400), Gibbs (200) and a fourth as yet unnamed sprinter could eclipse the 3.52.80 time also set by a SUAC team in 2005 of Kate McMaster (800), Nikki Molan (400), Malena Alver (200) and Gillian Ragus (200).
The women’s 4x800m team will look to defend their crown from last year. The team of Eliza Barton, Joanna Cubis, Clark and Kelly Young will be very competitive. Considering all four girls at the very least are capable of making a state final at the 800m distance, this is the strongest team the NSW Relay Championships has seen at 4x800m for some time.
Not to forget the women’s 4×100, where Van Veenendaal will be joined by an in form Larissa Pasternatsky, Muller and Gibbs. This event will be another tough race with strong competition coming from Illawong and Sutherland athletic clubs.
On the men’s side of the program SUAC look to be in especially good shape. In the 4x800m, an event SUAC has won 12 of the last 16 years, the club will boast a very strong quartet, spearheaded by SUAC Club Captain and World University Games champion Lachlan Renshaw. Add four time national champion and Commonwealth Games finalist Nick Bromley; Tristan Garrett, who has a 1.46 800m personal best; and Daniel Macdonald, who has run consistently around the 1.50 mark for a number of years; and SUAC have a very powerful lineup. They will of course face some very strong competition from rivals UTS Norths who have a national champion, national junior champion and a state champion amongst their four. The NSW record of 7.24.1, which has been held since 1999 by a SUAC team consisting of Martin Byron, Holt Hardy, Luke McSpeerin and Craig O’Brien, could be under threat.
In the men’s sprints, SUAC have significant depth and look to have a team capable of giving the 40 second barrier a nudge in the 4x100m. The A-team of World Junior 110m hurdles/4x100m medalist Nicholas Hough; three time 110 hurdles national champion and number two all-time Australian at the 110 hurdles Justiin Merlino; number two all-time 100m runner for India Piyush Kumar; and Henry Mitchell, who is back from a break and has previously run under 21 seconds for 200m; looks to be very hard to beat. Amazingly the NSW record of 39.85 held by a Homebush Track Club team that included Dean Capobianco could be in danger. Interestingly the SUAC ‘B’ team of Jin Jung, Josh Tassell, James Dooley and Stephen Andreazza looks to be in the mix for a top five finish, thus confirming the enormous sprinting depth currently in the SUAC ranks.
SUAC should also be very competitive in the men’s 4x200m. The men’s medley relay looks formidable and includes the likes of Renshaw and ‘the night fox’ Joshua Ralph.
Last but not least, the men’s 4x1500m team will be very difficult to beat, and includes Brett Halls, Keith Gregson, Daniel Macdonald and Nick Bromley.
The NSW State Relay Championships begins at 9am on Saturday and Sunday this weekend at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre.