Junior Logan Janetzki beat home Stewart McSweyn in a handicapped 3200m race at Mentone.
Janetski was running off a generous mark of 220m compared to McSweyn running from scratch, and took a comfortable victory in 8 minutes, 36 seconds.
The race was run just inside the usual boundary line of the AFL ground at Mentone Reserve, an undulating surface that was not fast underfoot. McSweyn picked up the rest of the field, and had a sprint finish with rising distant talent Jude Thomas, but finished four seconds behind Janetski in a run equivalent to an 8:00 3000m.
Janetzki will take on the world’s best junior distance runners on 18 February at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, while McSweyn headlines Australia’s 4x2km relay aspirations.
In the corresponding women’s race Amy Bunnage chased hard from a mark of 40m to finish third behind Alice Oakley Kerr (off 400m) and Maddison King (off 330m). The talented junior, who set a meet record in the Ondieki 3000m at the Zatopek:10 meet last year, finished in 9 minutes, 54 seconds – equivalent to a 9:23 3000m clocking.
Bunnage held her distance from backmarker Abbey Caldwell throughout the race, with Caldwell perhaps closing slightly over the final two laps. The Commonwealth Games 1500m bronze medallist was sixth across the line in 10 minutes, 1 seconds. Caldwell will also line up with McSweyn in the relay team in Bathurst.
Other international level athletes to compete included Naa Anang and Brooke Buschkuehl, who both progressed to the final of the women’s 100m Gift, finishing sixth and eighth respectively. The event was comfortably won by Olivia May (8.5m, 11.68), with Anang running 11.97 starting half a metre behind scratch, and Buschkuehl 11.99 off 3 metres.
Georgia Griffith finished fifth in the Invitational 800m for women, running 2:11 off scratch. The race was taken out by Cleo Richardson, whose father is 1993 Stawell Gift winner and media personality, Jason Richardson.
The men’s 100m Gift was won by Jasper Thomas in 10.53 seconds off a mark of 5 metres.
Janetzki, McSweyn, Bunnage and Caldwell’s preparation – handicapped races on grass – is in contrast to some other members of Australia’s 28-strong team for the World Cross Country Championships: Jack Rayner and Isobel Batt-Doyle line up on the roads today for a half marathon in Maragume, Japan. They are joined on the starting line by Sinead Diver and Eloise Wellings.