ATHLETICS Bendigo’s Regions cross-country stars shone in Saturday’s third round of XCR22 at Cruden Farm in Langwarrin. The Bendigo Bats led the charge in several of the men’s, women’s and junior divisions.

Among the many highs was the feat by Andy Buchanan, Nathan Stoate and Brady Threlfall to be first, fourth and sixth in the men’s open 12km as Bendigo was again top team in premier division.

The Bats beat Box Hill and St Stephens to mark a hat-trick of team titles after success at Jells Park and at St Anne’s Winery at Big Hill.

At Cruden Farm, Buchanan charged to victory in a time of 36.12 minutes to increase his lead in the race for the champion athlete award.

A dual national 10km cross-country champion, Buchanan was third in the series opener at Jells Park behind Olympians Stewart McSweyn and Jack Rayner, and has reigned supreme at Big Hill and Cruden Farm.

As Buchanan won at the Farm, Stoate and Threlfall who are team-mates and also athlete/coach were not far away in times of 37.41 and 37.54.

The Bats line-up in premier division included Matt Buckell, 15th in 38.39; and Glenn McMillan, 34th in 40.32.

Bendigo won division four through the efforts of Stephen van Rees, 70th in 42.05; Jordan Buckell, 95th in 44.18; Chris Armstrong, 101st in 44.36; Matthew Heislers, 116th in 45.21; and Matt Schepisi, 142nd in 46.35.

In the division seven men’s competition, Bendigo was first and seventh.

The Bats’ charge was led by Luke Millard, 46.47; Nick McDermott, 48.60; Mike Bieleny, 48.12; and Trevor Kelly, 51.48.

A great run of form by Alice Wilkinson, Vanessa Bull and Julie Heahleah continued as Bendigo led women’s division four from Box Hill and Mornington in the 12km duel.

Wilkinson was 24th across in the line in 49.10 as Bull, 70th in 56.43; and Heahleah, 89th in 59.24, ran well on the gruelling course.

In the Masters categories, the Bats were seventh in 40-plus men; 11th in 50-plus men; third in 60-plus men.

The young Bats also excelled at the 8km or 6km distances.

Bendigo won the under-20 women’s title through Tullie Rowe and Taryn Furletti as they were third and fifth in times of 32.21 and 33.53 for the 8km distance.

The talented trio of Jayden Padgham, Harrison Boyd and Logan Tickell won the under-18 men’s event.

The 8km contest was won by Alexander Angus racing on invitation in 25.50 as Padgham was next in 26.02.

Boyd and Tickell were third and fourth in 26.11 and 26.12.

Bendigo was fourth in under-18 girls and under-14 girls as Phoebe Lonsdale, Tully Lang and Chelsea Tickell ran strongly.

The Bats were 10th in under-16 boys, and 13th in under-20 men.

Athletics Victoria’s XCR series moves to St Anne’s Winery at Myrniong this Saturday from 12.30pm.

Athletes will race Ekiden Relays on the course near Ballan.

Race distances are up to 38.2km for premier and division two men, and 14.4km for under-14 boys and girls.

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