The Brisbane Track Classic was a case of the calm before the storm to this week’s Australian Championships.
Cover image by Casey Sims, courtesy of Athletics Australia.
All other photos by Michael Thomas
The storms at the Nationals may well be literal, with rain forecast each day of the four day meet, which commences on Thursday. It was odd timing to hold what in pre-COVID years had been Australia’s top one-day domestic meet – the Brisbane Track Classic – so close to the season’s pinnacle event, and wet conditions and reduced fields dampened both the track and results.
But not for the athletes often most affected by weather: pole vaulters. World class performances were recorded by Kurtis Marschall (5.85m) and New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney (4.71m).
“After such a successful campaign overseas, to try and get some motivation to jump in Australia was pretty tough,” said Marschall, who improved his personal best to 5.91m while jumping indoors.
“But after watching all the other Track Classic and seeing how sick they were, I just wanted to come out here and do the performance of the meet – 5.85m should put me close!”
“I’m very much looking forward to next week [Nationals] after that! I had a couple of good cracks at 5.95m, so hopefully we can do the same thing next week.”
On the track Catriona Bisset also confirmed her indoors form, running just outside her indoor season’s best of 1:59.83 with a win in 1:59.74, from the ever improving Ellie Sanford (a personal best of 2:00.55) and miler Linden Hall (2:01.48).
The run sets up a mouth watering National final, with season lead Abbey Caldwell entered in both the 800m and 1500m. Caldwell holds the season’s fastest time of 1:58.62, which she negatively split at the Sydney Track Classic, with Bisset’s bold front running and penchant for a sub 58 second first lap, a sharp contrast in style. If the match up takes place (and also adding into the mix Sanford and Olympian and 2:00.41 performer this season, Georgia Griffith), Bisset’s national record of 1:58.09 could go.
For her part, Bisset is eager for a further breakthrough.
“It feel like, ‘damn’, I didn’t quite nail that,” said Bisset.
“I think I’m just waiting… it happens every year, waiting for this big jump, but all I’m doing is tiny steps. Every time I don’t make that big jump, I get frustrated.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work that way, progress goes slowly before it goes quickly.”
Michelle Jenneke made it three from three across Track Classic meets, winning the 100m hurdles in 12.80 seconds (-0.3), beating home Celeste Mucci (12.92) and Hannah Jones (12.98). It’s only the second time, after the trio’s efforts at the Sydney Track Classic, that three Australians have broken 13 seconds in the one race. It’s something we might need to get used to.
Similarly, Jacob McCorry continued his dominance in the men’s high hurdles, winning in 13.69s (+0.3) from Japan’s Shuhei Ishikawa (13.75), with Nick Andrews prevailing for third in a near dead-heat from a breakthrough run for Tayleb Willis (13.85), just ahead of Mitch Lightfoot (13.87).
It was a night for those with barriers in the event, with Conor Fry edging closer to the 50 second barrier by lowering his personal best to 50.38 seconds in finishing second to Japan’s Takayuki Kishimoto (50.02). Chris Douglas, who narrowly missed selection in the event for the 2021 Olympic Games and then focused on the sprint hurdles last season, was third in 50.49 seconds and poses a threat to Fry at Nationals.
Sarah Carli was again peerless in the 400m hurdles, winning in 56.09 seconds.
The steeplechases provided a great prelude to the National Championships, with meet records falling in both events. South Australia’s Matthew Clarke (8:26.91) was strong over the final laps to win from season Top List leader Ben Buckingham (8:32.30), while Cara Feain-Ryan opened her season over the barriers with a classy 9:48.44 ahead of a personal best from Stella Redford (9:39.11) and season best from Brielle Erbacher (9:40.64). With Olympian Amy Cashin also set to race nationals, but without much form on the board (less an 8:57 on the boards indoor in December), the race will be wide open.
In the long jump Samantha Dale again had the better of Australian record holder Brooke Buschkuehl, 6.61m (+0.2) to 6.59m (-0.2). In the men’s event Darcy Roper joined Liam Adcock at the top of the season’s Top Lists with an 8.05m (+0.0) win, with Adcock second in 8.03m (+0.3). Personal bests were recorded by fourth and fifth placegetters, Zane Branco (7.95m) and Jalen Rucker (7.91m).
In the sprints New Zealand’s Eddie Osei-Nketia finished his athletics career with a win, leaving Rohan Browning in the blocks for a 10.13s (-1.0) to 10.29s victory. The 21-year-old Kiwi is set to take up an American Football scholarship at the University of Hawaii. Compatriot Zoe Hobbs was again a clear winner in 11.20s (-0.1), from Bree Masters (11.43).
In the 200m Ella Connolly took the win in 23.12s (-0.4) while Japan’s Shota Iizuka stormed to victory in the men’s race in 20.53s (-1.1). Jake Doran was the best of the Australians in third (20.81), backing up after finishing fourth in the 100m in 10.36.
Olympic and world championship finalist javelin-throwing medical student Mackenzie Little started her season with a win in 60.69m after bypassing the early parts of the season with residency requirements.
In other events:
- Matt Denny won the discus in 62.64m
- Queensland based Brit Jade Lally won the women’s discus in 60.48m
- Japan’s Yuki Nakajima won the 400m in 45.92s
- Rosie Elliot from New Zealand passed Ellie Beer in the closing stages to win the women’s 400m 52.88 to a season’s best 53.07
- New Zealand’s James Preston won the 800m in 1:47.00
- Tomohiro Shinno won the high jump in 2.23m
- France’s Felipe Vahai Sosaia won the men’s javelin in 79.85m
Brisbane Track Classic Photo Gallery
All attention now turns to the Australian Championships, which commence in Brisbane on Thursday.