Photos by Flynn Hopkins
Jessica Hull reigned supreme on a night that also saw a barrier breaking Australian Allcomers record from New Zealand’s Zoe Hobbs in the 100m.
Hull relished the opportunity to run in front of her home crowd and credited them with her run of 8:31.81, which took five seconds off her own national record.
“To run with a crowd like this was incredible. I actually couldn’t hear my cues in my head because of the crowd cheering but it was absolutely them that carried me to that record tonight,” Hull said.
Hull followed pacemaker Naomi Tanaka from Japan and opened up a huge lead over the rest of the field in the race that doubled as the Australian 3000m Championship. The 26-year-old won by almost 20 seconds from Rose Davies (8:50.90) and 17-year-old Amy Bunnage, who bounced back from the disappointment of dropping out of the heat ravaged junior women’s race World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst with a new personal best of 8:51.90.
“I really wanted to test my fitness so I was going for that record from the start,
Hull said. “Typically, I always run the US indoor season and I always get a good start. I really wanted to pick a race and test and see where I was at and this was the perfect opportunity to do that before Nationals later this month.”
The Australian 1500m title will be a hot affair, particularly following Abbey Caldwell’s barnstorming win in the 800m. Caldwell ran the fastest 800m ever run by an Australian on home soil, clocking 1:58.62 to win from Georgia Griffith (2:00.41) and a personal best to Ellie Sandford (2:00.87). The national record of Catriona Bisset may be on borrowed time with Caldwell’s form and with Bisset having a successful European indoor campaign where she ran 1:59.83. Bisset bypassed the Sydney Track Classic to run a mixed race set up for her at Thursday’s Box Hill Classic, which she won in 1:59.90.
The prospect of a new national 1500m record also looms bright, with Hull predicting it will be lowered on a number of occasions.
“With the 1500m, especially, I feel that there is a lot of knocking at that door,” Hull said.
“The 15 is going to go a lot lower this year, and whoever does it is going to knock it out of the park. It will be exciting to be part of that and I hope I can keep my hand in the mix. But I do imagine it will be passed back and forth a fair bit over the next few years.”
It was just a matter of wind – it being legal under the allowable 2.0 metres per second limit – that New Zealand’s Zoe Hobbs needed for her record aspirations. After clocking a wind assisted 10.89 seconds last week in New Zealand, Hobbs was delighted that the wind reading showed 0.5 m/s after she crossed the line in 10.97 seconds. The performance was the fastest ever on Australian soil, erasing the 10.99s run in the quarter-finals of the 2000 Olympics by subsequently disgraced Greek sprinter Ekaterini Thanou.
“I saw the time and thought, ‘Oh my god’ and then I didn’t want to get too excited in case it was illegal. Any conditions I’d be stoked with a sub-11,” said 25-year-old Hobbs.
“We were really lucky with the conditions last week, it was really windy so I just wanted to clock that legal sub-11. Most of all, I wanted to go out and have fun and not put too much expectation on myself based on how I ran last week. Being in that relaxed state let me run the race.”
There were high hopes that victor at the Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne, Naa Anang, might be pushed by Hobbs and a tailwind towards an Australian record (Anang ran 11.20 in Melbourne into a 1.4 m/s headwind). However it was not to be, with Anang a distant 7th in 11.48 seconds. The Australian breakthrough behind Hobbs came via junior Torrie Lewis, who lowered her personal best to 11.23 seconds for second place, just three-hundredths-of-a-second outside the Australian junior record of 11.20 seconds set by Raelene Boyle in finishing fourth at the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968.
Fred Kerley let his feet do the talking in the 400m, clocking a new meet record of 44.68 seconds to leave the Australian athletes in the race in his wake.
“I think this was a good campaign. I feel like it’s a good set up going through the season,” said Kerley, who took out the 200m at the Maurie Plant Meet in similarly dominant fashion.
Luke van Ratingen was the first Australian home, in a new personal best of 46.17 seconds.
The sprint hurdles produced sensational times, with Japan’s Rachid Muratake winning in 13.25 seconds from another personal best to Jacob McCorry (13.54); while Michelle Jenneke’s winning form continued with a 12.70s win from a Celeste Mucci, who clocked a new personal best of 12.84 seconds.
Joel Baden backed up his 2.33m clearance at last week’s Victorian Championships with a 2.32m win in the high jump, bowing out of the competition with unsuccessful attempts at 2.34m. Nicola Olyslagers was again peerless in the women’s event, winning in 1.94m.
Rohan Browning had two wins in front of his home crowd, firstly taking out the 100m in a close contest with New Zealand’s Eddie Osei-Nketia, 10.14s to 10.16s into a 0.2 m/s headwind. He then returned to the track later in the night to anchor the Australian 4x100m quartet featuring Jake Doran, Jacob Despard and Calab Law to a new meet record of 38.50s, surpassing the 38.62 set in 2009 by a Jamaican quartet that included Asafa Powell.
The women’s 4x100m team of Ella Connolly, Bree Masters, Torrie Lewis and Naa Anang clocked a classy 43.25 seconds.
Emerging talent made their mark in the Australian 3000m title, with Jude Thomas retaining his title a week shy of his 21st birthday and Cameron Myers continuing to rewrite junior records. Thomas prevailed in a sprint finish in 7:48.25 from Olympic steeplechaser Ben Buckingham (7:48.99).
“This time was much different to last year,” Thomas said. “I felt pretty average three-laps-in and was hanging on by the skin of my teeth, and lucky all the boys were there for a good pack run. The plan for Nationals will be to do both the 1500m and 5000m. I think it’s an opportunity to medal in both and that would be the ultimate goal.”
Myers ran 7:52.06 for fifth place, breaking the Australian U18 record held by Ryan Gregson and shaving a few hundredths of a second from the Australian U20 record, held by Thomas.
“I had to refocus after the Mile [at the Maurie Plant Meet, where he became the second youngest ever athlete to break four minutes], you get a lot of attention for something like that,” 16-year-old Myers said.
“I’m going to have a crack at Open Nationals 1500m up in Brisbane in a couple of weeks. After that I’m going to have a couple of down weeks and then see what happens.”
Winners of other events were:
- Sarah Carli in the 400m hurdles in a meet record 55.44 seconds
- Riley McGown in the 800m in a personal best 1:46.08
- Brooke Buschkuehl in the long jump in 6.56m
- Jalen Rucker in the long jump in 7.88m
- Capers Williamson from USA in the javelin in 79.37m
- Sae Takemoto from Japan in the javelin in 57.03m
- Jessie Andrew in the 400m in 53.50 seconds
- Alysha Pearson and Aiden Harvey in the shot in 14.17m and 17.77m respectively
- Alexandra Hulley and Ned Weatherly in the hammer thrown with 67.52m and 68.44m respectively
A photo gallery from last night’s meet will be updated throughout the day.
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