EAGLEHAWK holds all three major teams challenge trophies after the weekend’s running of the 77th Victoria Country Track and Field Championships in Bendigo.

The St Anne’s Vineyards-sponsored event drew hundreds of competitors from near and far to the Retreat Road complex in Flora Hill on January 28-30, 2022. The Hawks run as holders of the Margaret Saunders Country Cup for number one club now moves into a fifth consecutive year.

The Hawks scored 1402 points to claim overall team honours ahead of Bendigo Harriers, 965, and South Bendigo, 948.
Next best in the Cup race were Chilwell, 716; Geelong Guild, 632; and Wendouree, 625.

Friday night’s session was delayed by more than a hour after heavy rain swept across the city.

In the Cup race it was Eaglehawk which capped another dominant display across many age groups and disciplines. Versatility again played a big part in the success for the Two Blues.

Bendigo Harriers marked the build-up to the 100th Birthday celebrations by scoring points in many events, especially the distance running, and South Bendigo also worked hard to be not far behind Harriers in the standings.

A score of 171 put Bendigo University in 16th place in the overall team award.

Eaglehawk retained the Ex-Athletes Cup for leading women’s team, and David Kitt Memorial Trophy for the men’s teams challenge.

Numerous Bendigo Centre records broken

Many local athletes were in fine form with numerous Bendigo centre records broken:

  • Anne Buckley from Bendigo Harriers ran the 50-plus 2000m steeplechase in 9:16.97.
  • Harriers’ clubmate Brett Gilligan broke the pre-veteran and 40-plus 200m record in a time of 24.40.
  • Nathan Stoate from Bendigo Harriers claimed the open 10,000m record in 30:31.71.
  • A high of the 4 x 400m relays was the record-breaking run of Harriers’ 40-plus team of Brett Gilligan, Peter Clarke, David Morrissey and Luke Matthews in 3:52.29.
  • University’s Nathan Crowley ran the 800m in 1:59.80 to mark a pre-veteran and 40-plus record.
  • Eaglehawk’s Denise Snyder capped another great campaign by breaking pre-veteran records in High Jump, 1.70m; Long Jump, 5.05m; and Triple Jump, 11.03m.
  • South Bendigo’s Emma Berg again struck gold in the Open Shot Put as a mark of 14.30m broke the Bendigo Centre’s best.
  • In the 1500m action, Logan Tickell clocked a great time of 4:05.16 to now hold the under-16s record.
  • South Bendigo’s Carol Coad, Peta Dawe, Jennifer Payne and Debby Kirne ran the 4 x 400m relay in 6:05.71 to break the 50-plus mark.

Special Awards

The Australia Day Awards for Outstanding Achievements went to Cooper Sherman from Ballarat Harriers, and Wendouree’s Nyajima Jock. Highs for Sherman were a gold medal-winning run of 21.11 in the under-20s 200m, and victory in the under-20 400m in 47.20.

It was Jock who reigned supreme in the women’s open 200m final as she charged to victory in 25.20 seconds.

The Stuart Hunter Award for outstanding under-16 athlete went to Albury’s Mikayla Taylor after she reached a mark of 11.95m, wind 2.8, in the under-16 triple jump.

The Joyce Lockyer Memorial Shield to recognise sportsmanship, encouragement and dedication to field event/s was awarded to Steve McLennan from Wendouree.

There were many outstanding contenders for the Athletics Chilwell Veterans Award.
It was back-to-back wins for Wendouree’s Angela Williams and Bellarine’s Grant Simpson. Performances adjudged best by AC members were Williams’ run of 19:16.16 to win the 40-plus women’s 5000m, and gold for Simpson in the 50-plus men’s steeplechase in a time of 10:57.23.

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Highlights across the competition

There were many highlights from competitors from country or metropolitan clubs.

Dual Olympian Victoria Mitchell won the women’s open 3000m steeple in 10:37.54 to add to Albury’s gold haul.

At the high jump, Melbourne Uni’s Joel Baden and Ballarat YCW’s Yual Reath were the stars to watch. Baden competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics and cleared 2.21m in Saturday’s competition as Reath reached 2.16m. Just days after soaring 5.05m in the Steve Hooker pole vault challenge at the Zatopek 10 meet, Box Hill’s Dalton Di Medio cleared the 5.15m mark in Bendigo.

Essendon’s Archie Noakes won the under-20 3000m steeplechase in a superb time of 8:57.97. Setting a qualifying standard for this year’s world junior titles in the event is 9:08.

Finale to Saturday night’s track racing were the 4 x 100m relays.
Geelong Guild, 44.25, surged past Eaglehawk, 44.45, on the home straight to win the men’s open final.
Wendouree celebrated a great victory in the women’s open ahead of Geelong Guild in times of 50.25 and 50.39.Gold medal winners in the 4 x 100m relay from Bendigo region were Eaglehawk in under-16 girls, under-18 girls, under-18 boys, 60-plus men, 50-plus men; Bendigo Harriers in under-16 boys, 40-plus men, 50-plus women; South Bendigo 60-plus women.
Championships finale on Sunday afternoon on the track was the 4 x 400m relay. Bendigo Harriers won the 40-plus men’s title.

It was a great battle for silver in the men’s open 4 x 400m as Bendigo Harriers’ team of Daniel Baldwin, Josh Evans, Lonain Burnett and Daniel Noden raced to the line in 3:38.00 to beat Uni’s line-up of Nathan Crowley, Ned Buckell, Andy Buchanan and Matt Buckell who clocked 3:38.48.

Margaret Saunders Country Cup, overall team scores:

  1. Eaglehawk 1402 points,
  2. Bendigo Harriers 965,
  3. South Bendigo 948,
  4. Chilwell 716,
  5. Geelong Guild 632,
  6. Wendouree 625,
  7. Albury 557,
  8. Ballarat Harriers 409,
  9. Eureka 347,
  10. Corio 260,
  11. Ballarat YCW 221,
  12. Wellington 211,
  13. Athletics South West 187,
  14. Bellarine 186,
  15. Shepparton 178,
  16. Bendigo University 171,
  17. Gippsland 130,
  18. Deakin 76,
  19. Traralgon 52,
  20. South Coast 31,
  21. Wodonga 8.

Ex-Athletes Cup, women’s teams challenge, top 10:

  1. Eaglehawk 719 points,
  2. South Bendigo 593,
  3. Bendigo Harriers 359,
  4. Geelong Guild 346,
  5. Wendouree 341,
  6. Chilwell 326,
  7. Albury 281,
  8. Ballarat Harriers 215,
  9. Eureka 211,
  10. Wellington 173.

16. Bendigo University AC was 16th on 32 points.

David Kitt Memorial Trophy, men’s teams challenge, top 10:

  1. Eaglehawk 683 points,
  2. Bendigo Harriers 606,
  3. Chilwell 390,
  4. South Bendigo 355,
  5. Geelong Guild 286,
  6. Wendouree 284,
  7. Albury 276,
  8. Ballarat Harriers 194,
  9. Bellarine 176,
  10. Shepparton 156.
  11. Bendigo University AC & Corio were equal 11th on 139 points.