Victorian Country Athletics Championships: The must watch athletes

Regional Victoria’s best athletics stars will come together at the Country Championships from Thursday. Here are the top athletes to watch.

Regional Victoria’s athletics stars are ready to take centre stage.

Athletes from Olympic stars to local heroes are set to descend on John Landy Field in Geelong this weekend for the Victorian Country Athletics Championships.

The event has been the breeding ground for some of the country’s greatest ever.

Here’s a look a the top athletes to keep an eye on this weekend.

Armani Anderson (Ballarat Harrier)

Anderson won the 100m and 200m titles at the Victorian All Schools championships for Damascus College and will be competing in those events in the under-18s category. The club describes her as a brilliant sprinter who has performed well this season.

Gretta Ashley (Ballarat YCW)

Ashley will be competing in the under-16 girls steeplechase and will be aiming to win the event as one of the favourites and earn national qualifier.

Xy Beale (Albury)

Will compete in the under-18 and open discus and shot put. Beale recently won gold medals at the national all school titles in under-17 discus and shot put.

Alyssa Benbow (Eureka)

Won silver in the under-16 shot put at the Australian All Schools Championships. Benbow is a Ballarat record holder in the hammer throw, shot put and discus and will compete in all of those events.

Lachlan Benbow (Eureka)

Will make the move up to the open class to compete in the hammer throw. Benbow is the current Ballarat record holder in under-20 hammer throw.

Emma Berg (South Bendigo)

Berg is the current national champion in the shot put and is part of the Australian under-23 development team. Expect to see her go well after setting a Victorian Country shot put record of 15.39 metres last year.

Callum Bott (Albury)

A national championships silver medallist last year in the 400m in his age group and will be competing in the under-16 100m, 200m and 400m.

Keely Boyne (Diamond Valley)

Boyne was a silver medallist at the 2022 state titles in the 100m hurdles after running a time of 14.35. She was delighted with her form last weekend — running a season best 100m and personal best in the hurdles to take out the Silver in a quality field. Boyne has competed at national level for the past six years and has medalled.

Sarah Brennan (Ballarat YCW)

A strong chance to take out the 40+ women’s 5000m event according to the club. Brennan is one of the best in the state. The walker is also a chance of doing well in the open event.

Ken Bruce (Athletics South West)

Will be one of the athletes who could prove hard to beat in the 60+ men’s competition. He will compete in the 100m, 200m, long jump and triple jump.

Noah and Jacinta Burns (Bellarine Athletic T & F)

The mother-son duo have been a fixture on the Geelong athletic tracks for years, with Noah a gun pole vaulter who has racked up a bunch of medals along his journey, including a silver at last year‘s Oceania Championships. Jacinta is a star in her own right and will take on the over-50 pole vault, as well as 100m and 200m events.

Amali Butcher (Chilwell Athletics)

Coming off an excellent All-Schools nationals in December where she claimed bronze in the 200m, 100m hurdles and 4x100m relay, Butcher is one to watch in the under-18 division.

Jeff Collins (Athletics South West)

Currently ranked top three in the state in javelin and has recently had three throws in competition over 50m. He will compete in the under-18s.

Dakira Cooper (Albury)

One of Australia’s brightest prospects in throwing events. She recently attended a camp at the National Throws Centre in Queensland and won the Victoria Country event last year in javelin. She will compete in under-18 hammer throw, discus and shot put.

Grace Crowe (Ballarat Harrier)

A promising sprinter who will compete in the under-16 girls 100m, 200m and long jump events. She holds the under-14 Ballarat record in the 100m with a time of 12.45 seconds.

Mackayla Culvenor (Wendouree)

Will compete in the triple jump in her age group and won gold at the Australian All Schools Track and Field championships in the same under-15s event in December.

Mark Daiton (Ballarat YCW)

Daiton will compete in the 60+ 3000m and 10,000m events and just loves to run for his age, according to the club. He’ll be one of the favourites for the event and the club said Daiton could be competitive in the 50+ age group with the way he is running right now.

Zaria Dalton (Gippsland)

The young gun from the state’s east is thriving in her first season of senior athletics and has performed strongly in lead up events across the state. She is sent to compete in the women’s 100m, 200m and 400m events.

Ruby Darcy (Athletics South West)

Primed to do well after winning four medals at the School Sports state titles last year. Darcy will compete in the under-18 long jump and triple jump.

Christian Davis (Corio Athletics)

Davis is no stranger to performing at Landy Field, having smashed a 25-year-old record there in the 800m back in 2018. The runner has pared back his distances for the countries and will take on the 200m and 400m events.

Montana Djatschenko (Essendon)

A strong contended in the open women’s long jump after a fourth-place finish at last year’s state titles.

Andrew Drummond (Ballarat Harrier)

The best Masters sprinter at the club. He will compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 100m hurdles in the 50+ age group and the club says he is getting better with age.

Alec Franzke (Albury)

Will compete in the under-16 800m, 1500m and 3000m and is expected to do well in all three. He is a national under-15 champion at the all schools 1500m.

Eddy Franzke (Albury)

Is already heading to the nationals later this year in the under-14 3000m after recently running a qualifying time. Will compete in under-14 800m, 1500m and 3000m and is expected to be a leader in all of the events.

Molly Fraser (Ballarat Harrier)

A Ballarat record holder in the triple jump and has been performing well this season, according to her club. She will compete in the under-18 100m, 200m, triple jump and long jump.

Darcy Giddings (Corio Athletics)

One of the best on the mound, Giddings will be taking on the under-20 discus, hammer throw and shot put, as well as open discus. He is another Victorian who shone at the Oceania games last year, picking up a bronze in under-18 discus.

Kim Gleeson (Ballarat YCW)

A medal chance in the 40+ women throwing events with Gleeson to compete in shot put, discus, javelin and hammer throw. The club says she’s a constant competitor in the state’s best throwing athletics competitions and is well equipped to do well.

Zac Grainger (Wendouree) 

Grainger won two gold medals last year at the event and will compete in the 400m hurdles and 2000m steeplechase looking to replicate the performance.

David Grigg (Ballarat YCW)

In the form of his life according the club. Grigg will compete in the 1500m and 5000m 40+ men events but faces tough competition in a stacked field.

Trudy Haines (South Bendigo)

Set to be a medal chance in running, jumping and throwing events in the 50+ women’s age group.

Rhys Hansen (South Bendigo)

From Waaia, Hansen travels two hours to Bendigo to compete and train in pole vault. And he has been successful, winning the national under-15 title last year and the all schools events in Adelaide last December. A talented junior who last weekend achieved a personal best of 3.75m.

Lily-Bella Hilli (Essendon)

Will compete in the under-18 hurdles. She won the under-16 200m hurdles at the Australian Track and Field Championships last year.

Lucy Jones (Eureka)

Will compete in the under-16 800m and 1500m. Last year, she set the fastest ever Ballarat times for both events in the under-14s. Is one of Australia’s best ranked athletes in both events.

Greg Hilson (South Bendigo)

Will be competing at his 38th straight Victorian Country championships. His first was as a 16-year-old in 1986. Hilson is entered in eight events, which could be more if he is selected to compete in the relays for the club. A stalwart of the club at the event.

Grace Kelly (Ballarat Harrier)

Kelly comes from Warrnambool but her club is the Ballarat Harriers. Holds the club record for the 100m in her age group and will compete in that event and the 200m in the under-18s at the titles. Kelly finished third in the Australian All Schools in the 100m despite having a big fall at the end of her semi final.

Elyssia Kenshole (Diamond Valley)

Returning to competition after injury, Kenshole was the 2021 women’s under-20 national pole vault champion, while also finishing fourth in the open women at the same event.

Caleb Kilpatrick (Geelong Guild)

The 400m act picked up a medal at the national All-Schools championships in December and was part of Australia‘s winning under-18 4x400m relay team at the Oceania championships in June. Kilpatrick will be taking on 100m, 200m and 400m distances in Geelong.

Mackenzie Leith (Essendon)

The young gun will be a contender in the under-18 discus after strong performances across state and national events.

Matilda L’Estrange (Diamond Valley)

Chasing qualifying times can do wonderful things for athletes. L’Estrange was after a 10:50.0 time to qualify for nationals or a top three place in the women’s under-17 3000m — she got both. Forget the 12:16.3 last start in December, Matilda was on a mission and the result was a new personal best time of 10:41.36 and a silver medal.

Ben Locke (Eureka)

A Ballarat record holder in the discus and hammer throw and is currently in the top six in the country for both. A talented athlete who will compete in the under-20s in both events.

Maddy Meagher (Diamond Valley)

Finished second at the Victorian All School Championships last year after lowering her time to 12.49s. She also won bronze in the under-15s 200m with a personal best time.

Mackenzie Mielczarek (Corio Athletics)

One of the brightest javelin talents in the country, Mielczarek took out gold in the under-20 section at the Oceania championships in June last year with a huge 54.64m hurl. She will wind up again in open javelin at the country champs.

Kathryn Mitchell (Eureka)

No surprise Mitchell is in this list. She is the Australian record holder in the javelin and ranked in the top 10 in the world. She’s been to the Olympics three times and the Commonwealth Games five times and will start as favourite for her event.

Joy Morden (Athletics South West)

Won the 2000m steeplechase in the 40+ women’s age group and is likely to do the same again. She will also compete in the 400m.

Ollie Muggleton (South Bendigo)

Muggleton is looking to set a national qualifier in the 400m to compete at the nationals in the open event. He recently performed well at the Bendigo Shield, according to the club, and will compete in the 200m and 400m, his pet events.

Jace Murray (Wendouree)

Murray is a relative newcomer to the senior athletics scene. He won gold in the discus in the Victorian All Schools Track and Field championships and bronze in the javelin. Murray will look to use his form to repeat the effort at the Victorian Country titles.

Kai Norton (South Bendigo)

Norton will be competing in the under-16 shot put and hammer throw and is in contention for medals. He recently competed at the all schools event in Adelaide and won silver last year in the under-14 shot put nationals.

Lachlan O’Keefe (Wendouree)

One of the best high jumpers in the country. O’Keefe competed last year at the under-20 world athletics championships and at the Australian All Schools Track and Field championships, where he won the under-18 gold medal. A real shot at winning gold.

Katie Oliver (Diamond Valley)

Recently achieved a personal best time in the 100m while claiming silver in the Victorian under-17 titles. She also won bronze in the 200m. She is aiming to compete at the national titles again this year.

Christian Paynter (Geelong Guild)

Paynter is in career-best form after taking out his second-consecutive state decathlon title earlier this month. The 25-year-old new father will typically take on a string of events in Geelong and reckons he is a chance to medal in javelin, discus, high jump and 110m hurdles.

Xavier Pitt (Albury)

Will compete in the under-18s and open javelin and is one of the brightest prospects in Australia. He recently attended the National Throws camp in Queensland and won a medal at least year’s nationals in the javelin.

Sukhnoor Rangi (Essendon)

Rangi dominated across all competitions last year after taking out the under-16 pole vault at the Victorian and Australian titles. Backed it up with a win at the Australian All Schools Championships in December. She will now compete in the under-18 division.

Isaac Rossato (Eureka)

Will look to go back-to-back in the under-20 800m after winning last year. Rossato last year made the final at the nationals and is an athlete to watch.

Yual Reath (Wendouree)

The reigning champion in high jump at the Victorian Country titles and is the national open champion. Reath also competed at the World Athletics Championships.

Logan Sandland (Albury)

Sandland will compete in under-18 discus, shot put and hammer throw and also in the open hammer throw. He won the under-17 hammer throw at the national all schools and is expected to be competitive in both open and under-18 despite a weight increase in the throw for open.

Joan Self (South Bendigo)

Set to be a medal chance in running, jumping and throwing events in the 60+ women’s age group.

Cooper Sherman (Ballarat Harrier)

A Victoria Country record holder in the under-19 and 20 200m. Sherman will compete in the 200m and 400m in the under-20 at the Victorian Country championships. Last year, he represented Australia at the U20 world athletics championships.

Riley Shillito (Ballarat YCW)

Will start as the favourite for the under-16 boys 2000m steeplechase. Shillito is last year’s national champion in the under-15 2000m steeplechase and will be looking to post a national qualifier in the event to compete at the national titles.

Miller Smith (Bellarine Athletic T & F)

Labelled a “gun sprinter” by his club, the Barwon Heads teen is a hurdler to watch and has represented Victoria before. Smith is taking on the under-16 100m and both the 100m and 200m hurdles at the country champs, while also stretching himself in the 400m event.

Arden Stevens (Essendon)

Enters the competition as the reigning Victorian champion after taking out the under-16 triple jumper last year to go along with a second-place finish on the national stage. Now preparing to step up to the under-18s.

Jesse Suter (Athletics South West)

A top-10 athlete in 100m, 200m and 400m under-18 events in Victoria after personal best times in all three events in 2022. Expected to be a leading contender in all events.

Jamison Towers (Essendon)

Towers is expected to be a contender across several events. She took at the under-16 heptathlon at the Victorian Combined Championships earlier this month. Towers will compete in the 400m and 90m hurdles.

Simon Van Baalen (Gippsland)

Set to compete in the men’s over-4o events at his third Victorian Country Championships. Van Baalen will compete in various field events.

Fieke Van Der Kamp (Diamond Valley)

The young gun will enter this weekend in strong form after a sixth-place finish at the Athletics Australia 6km Cross Country selection trials held earlier this month. Van Der Kamp remains in contention to be selected for the Australian side.

Angela Williams (Wendouree)

Williams was a winner of last year’s Athletics Chilwell veteran athlete of the meet award. She will enter this year’s event, according to the club, aiming to once again prove her dominance in the distance events.

Teyvia Williams (Athletics South West)

A cross country runner who has represented her state before. She will compete in the 800m, 1500m and 3000m and is capable of pulling a surprise or two in those events in under-18.

Aria Violini (Ballarat YCW)

Violini is an extremely talented junior who is competing in her first season in the senior competition. Her coach Bernie Blood has extreme confidence in her form leading into the event and she will be competing in the under-14 1500m and 3000m event.

Guy Williams (Chilwell Athletics)

After picking up silver in the long jump at the All-Schools Victorian championships last year, Williams was unable to push for a national medal. The leaper holds the under-13 Vic Country long jump record and will be taking on long jump, high jump and 200m in the under-16 age group.

Originally published as Victorian Country Athletics Championships: The must watch athletes Victorian Country Athletics Championships: The must watch athletes

Ryan Sederquist

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