19 August 2019
NSW athletes have podium potential at national cross
With the IAAF World Cross Country championships to be held on Australian soil in 19 months from now, the National Cross Country Championships this Saturday in Wollongong will be a good opportunity to watch senior and junior athletes that are tracking towards wearing the green and gold in Bathurst in March 2021.
NSW look strong in this event and should have terrific competition with Victoria for the team title. The 2017 national champion, on this very course, Victorian Alexandra Peterson will be one to watch along with two world cross country championships representatives Caitlin Adams (SA) and NSW’s Canberra-based athlete Emily Brichaeck.
If Brichaeck can run close to her world cross country form (35th place) she will be unstoppable. She won this title in 2011 and four of her five appearances in the green and gold have been in cross country. Continuing her return from a torrid few years of injury, the NSW cross country champion Jenny Blundell will be a strong member of the NSW team. A potential surprise for the podium could be 19-year-old Rose Davies (Adamstown, NSW) who recently won the NSW Short Course XC.
Other individuals to watch include Bernadette Williams (WA) and Victorian pair Kiah Fry and Courtney Powell.
In the teams battle it looks like a NSW v VIC tussle.
On the podium at the last two editions, including the 2017 race on this course, UTS Norths’ Ed Goddard leads the NSW charge along with State Cross Country short course champion Brad Milosevic. They faceup to the challenge of Victorian Andrew Buchanan chasing his third consecutive title – only achieved twice before by Dave Power (NSW) 1955 to 1957 and Rob de Castella (Vic) 1978 to 1980.
Goddard had a slow start to the year with illness, but has signalled good form in July at the World University Games where he placed fourth in the half marathon.
However, it remains an open race with a number of other strong prospects. SA look capable of defending their surprise team title win in 2018 with a terrific team and foursome - Michael Roeger (multiple world record holder in para-athletics and most recently clocking 64:17 in the half marathon), Riley Cocks (2019 silver medallist) and Adrian Potter (10th World XC trial) and Max Stevens (national steeplechase champion).
Queenslander Louis McAfee (second Australian half marathon this month) is on the rise and should challenge. But in close to his best the overwhelming favourite will be Victorian David McNeil dual Olympian, three-time Commonwealth Games representative and four-time World Cross Country competitor.
Read more about the event: timetable, entries & rules.
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Men open XC in 2017. 496 – 1st Andrew Buchanan V, 232 – 2nd Ed Goddard N, 599 – 4th William Potter V, 478 – 7th Max Stevens SA (courtesy David Tarbotton)