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Author: Athletics NSW Administrator/Saturday, 31 May 2008/Categories: News

The largest event of the Athletics NSW Winter Premiership, the NSW Cross Country Relays, were held today at Miranda Park.

The men's open 4x4km event saw some of the most exciting racing that the two lap course had ever seen. In a race where the podium positions changed after each leg, Randwick-Botany Harriers continued their dominance of the event, crossing the line first for the fourth consecutive year.

It was a victory that did not come easily, with Kembla Joggers' junior prodigy Ryan Gregson showing the rest of the field a clean pair of heels over the first leg to clock a swift 11:47. He later backed up to anchor the victorious Kembla Joggers U20 team by running 12:08.

Gregson frontrunning efforts on the first leg strung out the field behind him, opening up a margin of 18 seconds from Novice champion James Nipperess (Sydney University), with Luke Taylor, who held the NSW U18 5000m record prior to Gregson breaking it in February 2007, third into the change a further four seconds behind for the Asics Wests team. Randwick-Botany found themselves almost a minute behind after the first leg.

The second leg was one of consolidation, with Stephen Brown producing a strong sub 12 minute leg to continue to build the lead for Kembla Joggers. Strong runs from Dave Mulveen (Sydney University) and Richard Roberts (Asics Wests) maintained their team's positions. Despite a solid run from veteran athlete Nick Cope, Randwick-Botany found themselves 61 seconds behind.

  That was all about to change with Australian 1500m bronze medalist Jeremy Roff taking the baton. A sustained display of strong running saw the 24 year old pass four teams to move into second, cutting the deficit almost in half. Michael Roeger, who will compete in the 1500m at the Paralympics, ran a split of 12:38 to keep Kembla Joggers in the lead.

"I wasn't sure what kind of shape I would be in because I haven't raced since February," said Roff, whose split of 11:39 was the second quickest of the day.

"It's just good to just get out there for your club with your mates."

Roff handed over to his friend and training partner, Jeff Hunt. Hunt, the Australian Cross Country champion from last season, used his experience to chase down Kembla Joggers' Barry Keem. With a fast yet controlled first lap Hunt made up the ground and went on to cross the line 20 seconds ahead of Keem.

  "I went out fast, but not more than I could handle," said Hunt after his 11:49 split. "I knew that way I'd put a lot of pressure on everyone else on the last leg."

  Asics Wests Colin Johnston produced a doggedly determined final leg to hold off St George's Tim Rowe, who clocked the fastest leg of the day with a run of 11:36. Perhaps drawn in by Hunt's tactics, Rowe started at a ferocious pace in an overly optimistic effort to take out the race for his team. Rowe made up a lot of ground on the bronze medal position over the first three kilometres of the leg, getting as close as 8 seconds to a podium position, but could not make up any further ground over the final kilometre.

Whilst the men's race was a see-sawing affair, the women's saw a dominant performance from Sutherland.

  The early stages of the first leg were a close race until the rapidly improving Noni Clarke took the lead. She clocked the fastest split of the day with a run of 14:14 to open up a lead which her team would not yield for the remainder of the race.

  The lead extended to over 45 seconds after a strong leg from Erin Hargraves. Entering the third leg the margin was 27 seconds ahead of Hills District, but a composed leg from Brooke Simpson (14:27) held off a strong run from Bilinda Schipp (14:34) for a 33 second victory. Randwick-Botany were third a minute and a half further back.

Unofficial fastest ten splits:



Tim Rowe SGD 11:36 4
Jeremy Roff RBH 11:39 3
Jeff Hunt RBH 11:39 4
Ryan Gregson KEJ 11:47 1
Stephen Brown KEJ 11:59 2
Colin Johnston ASW 12:04 4
James Nipperess SYU 12:05 1
Ryan Gregson (2) KEJ 12:08 4
Luke Taylor ASW 12:09 1
David Ricketts BMA 12:17 1



Noni Clarke SUT 14:14 1
Lorraine Hince KEJ 14:25 1
Brooke Simpson SUT 14:27 4
Anita Keem KEJ 14:29 1
Belinda Schipp HIL 14:33 4
Angela Williams HIL 14:36 1
Jenny Truscott SSR 14:47 1
Alexis McKillop SYU 14:55 1
Jane Miles UTN 15:05 1
Erin Hargraves SUT 15:11 2

Complete results will be available early next week. 


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