Featured photo by LUKE HEMER / STAWELL GIFT
APRIL was a massive month for local athletics on the national stage.
Local athletes came first at the 2022 Chemist Warehouse Athletics Track and Field Championships in Sydney and the Powercor Stawell Gift.
ED MUNKS filed this report.
Abbey sets sights on Commonwealth Games
Abbey Caldwell ran a sensational race to win the Women’s 1500m Open Final in 4.10.75 at Sydney Olympic Park.
Abbey is now looking at racing overseas in her bid to make the Australian team for this year’s Commonwealth Games being held in Birmingham.
View Abbey’s race at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KsMKfvHLz0.
Nicole Reynolds also made the trip to Sydney and ran 6th place in her race of the 400m hurdles.
The Harding girls performed well at their first national titles; Jamison won the Under 14 Women’s Pole Vault, Jamison jumped 2.75m in very wet conditions and also finished 2nd in the Under 15 Pole Vault, jumping 2.80m — which was also an equal personal best (PB).
Shakira finished 2nd in the Under 16 90m hurdles, running a PB of 13.03 seconds.
She entered the final 200m hurdles after qualifying fastest in the heats.
Unfortunately, she hit the ninth hurdle quite hard and finished 4th.
Harrison takes the sash at Stawell
Local sprinter Harrison Kerr took out the prestigious and lucrative 120m Gift final at the 140th running of the event.
Running 11.845 from a mark of 9.25m, Harry smashed the competition and the record with the fastest time recorded in 27 years.
Harrison’s heat and semi-final run ensured he was a warm favourite for the final.
Harrison remained focused and calm in the lead up to the final; he was fast out of the blocks and executed his race plan on the day, maintaining his form to take out the big race.
Harrison’s journey to the Gift has been a long time coming; he first started going to Stawell in his early teens to watch his brothers compete and then started competing as a 13-year-old.
In May 2021, Harrison underwent a shoulder reconstruction due to a football injury whilst playing for Old Aquinas; his arm was in a sling for three months, which meant that his only training was on a spin bike.
He then began an intense strength and conditioning programme to build his core strength.
The Victorian Athletics League (VAL) season then saw him win three races to get back into form.
In other results, South Warrandyte coach and athlete Todd Ireland finished 6th in his semi-final of the Henk Neil Masters 100m.
Other members of Team Ireland competing were 2021 men’s Gift finalist Jake Ireland 3rd in his Gift semi-final, Jake also came 3rd in the Arthur Postle 70m final, and a 2nd in the 200m semi-finals.
Cam Dunbar also ran a 5th in his Gift semi-final, 4th in the 70m semi and a 2nd in his heat of the 200m.
Darcy Ireland had a heat finish of 4th in the 200m along with a 5th in the heats of the 400m.
Ebony Ireland in the Bill Howard 100m was 6th in her heat and 4th in the semis of the U18 girls 100m.
Abbey Caldwell, fresh off her national open 1500m win, competed in a star studded field of Olympians and Open National titleholders in the AIA Vitality 1000m race, where she finished in 2nd place.
Having just completed the Australian Open National Championships, Nicole Reynolds made the final of the Sypac Lorraine Donnan Women’s Handicap 400m, where she finished 5th.
Nicole also placed 3rd in her heat of the Women’s 120m Gift.
Former Women’s Gift winner Olivia Ryan has now stepped up to the longer 400m distance and was 2nd in her heat along with Sophie Sykes (5th).
Olivia also ran 5th in her Gift heat and 5th in the Arthur Postle 70m.
Holly Hansen, running her first full season in the VAL, finished 5th in the Under 18 Girls final and came 3rd in her Women’s Gift heat.
Little Athletics update
In the Little Athletics Victorian races, Willow Glover ran a sensational 400m final to finish 2nd from a fast-finishing Chloe Baldock.
Chloe also placed 9th in the final of the 1600m and Willow a 12th in the 800m.
Macey Hansen was 8th in the 100m semi and 11th in the 400m heats.
Shakira Harding, who competed in the age group nationals, finished 2nd in her 400m heat.
Zoe Garden also finished 5th in her heat of the 100m.