ABOVE: Eaglehawk clubmates Laura Kadri, Kenan Seebah, Kye Mason, James Bentley, Leah Langtree and Kathryn Heagney hold the three trophies the club retained at the 2021 country championships in Ballarat. Photo: Maya Kadri.

Eaglehawk’s dominance of Athletics Victoria country championships rolled on at the weekend’s action in Ballarat. The Hawks marked a fourth consecutive campaign as number one team.

Eaglehawk scored 1189 ½ points across three days and two nights of competition at Llanberris Reserve to hold the Margaret Saunders Country Cup, overall; Ex-Athletes Cup, women’s team; and David Kitt Memorial Trophy, men’s team, for another year.

South Bendigo put in another superb effort to be runner-up on 835 ½ as Bendigo Harriers was sixth, and Bendigo University in 21st place. There were many highlights for the four clubs from Flack Advisory Services Group-backed Athletics Bendigo Region.

Six championship records were broken by Bendigo athletes, and 11 residential records tumbled in a variety of events.

A competitor and coach of Eaglehawk AC, Terry Hicks was rapt with the club’s latest success and the titles being run:
“These were difficult circumstances in getting these championships on,” Hicks said before the trophy presentation.

“Congratulations to Ballarat Region, Athletics Victoria, all athletes and volunteers.

“The hot conditions were a test for all athletes and officials.”

He praised all athletes who made the trek to Ballarat, and to all Bendigo clubs.
“To the Eaglehawk athletes, a lot who did extra events to help build the team score, congratulations to all of you.”
From a tally of 53 registered athletes, 47 represented Eaglehawk at the championships.
“That’s an incredible percentage and shows just how much these titles mean to the club,” said Hicks.

“As a club we have always encouraged athletes to try a couple of different events at the championships. For a long time that was driven by the older members in the club, but now the younger ones have really embraced that and are such a driving force.”

It’s the seventh consecutive year the Margaret Saunders Country Cup is held by a Bendigo club.

The recent run is Eaglehawk 2018 to ’21; South Bendigo ’17; and Bendigo Harriers ’15 and ’16. Eaglehawk’s best run as number one club was from 2008 to 2012. South Bendigo was number one club in country Victoria nine years in a row.

Eaglehawk’s winning run at the latest championships was not just on the track and field, but also in the key support roles.
Sam Graham, who officiated at several field disciplines, earned the Joyce Lockyer Memorial Shield.

Standings and points for Athletics Bendigo Region:

Margaret Saunders Country Cup, overall team award:
Eaglehawk 1189 ½, 1st; South Bendigo 835 ½, 2nd; Bendigo Harriers 546 ½ 6th; Bendigo University 19, 21st.

Ex-Athletes Cup, women’s team:
Eaglehawk 533 ½, 1st; Soutth Bendigo 470 ½, 2nd; Bendigo Harriers 368 ½, 4th; Bendigo University 5, equal 20th.

David Kitt Memorial Tropy, men’s team:
Eaglehawk 656, 1st; South Bendigo 349, 4th; Bendigo Harriers 178, 12th; Bendigo University 14, 20th.

In the medals race, South Bendigo racked up 31 gold to be third as Athletics Chilwell, 35, and Geelong Guild, 34, led the way.
Eaglehawk won 25 gold, and Bendigo Harriers nabbed 16.
The medals tally was led by Eaglehawk on 98 overall which included 38 silver and 35 bronze.
South’s haul was 27 silver, 21 bronze.
Harriers netted 18 silver, 21 bronze.

Next year’s country championships will be held at Athletics Bendigo Region headquarters in Retreat Road, Flora Hill.