2016 Country Track and Field Championships

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The 71st edition of the NSW Country Track and Field Championships were held at Campbelltown last weekend, on 22nd to 24th January 2016.

The NSW Country Championships are an annual track and field event held over three days. Athletes from all over country New South Wales compete in every age group from under 10 to 70 plus years to contend the state title. As a small Country Club, Nowra was well represented with 55 athletes competing over the 3 days; with a number of Nowra athletes attending their first Country Championship event.

One of the highlights of the event was surely 8 year old Bethany Dobson competing in the 13 years 400 metre sprint. Bethany was dwarfed by the 11 and 12 year olds in her race but was not daunted by their size or speed. Pint-sized Bethany powered off the start line and gave it her all. First place crossed the line in 1.03.68 minutes. Bethany trailed the field, crossing in 1.34.23 minutes, however she crossed to a cheering crowd and a resounding round of applause; everyone so impressed with her huge effort from one so small! Bethany placed 12th from 12 competitors but she certainly earned gold for courage and determination. Bethany then also backed up in the 10 years 1500m, placing 6th as the youngest and smallest competitor in her field. Well done Bethany! Bethany has obviously been inspired by her athletic family.

Leah Dobson won bronze in the 14 years high jump and placed 9th in the 18/19 years 2000m steeplechase. Hugh Dobson won silver in both the 16 years steeplechase and 1500m, whilst Clare Dobson finished 5th in the 18/19 years steeplechase and 4th in the 17 years 1500m. Mum Kim won gold in the 40- 49 years steeplechase event and silver in the 1500m.

The NSW Country Championships wouldn’t be the same for Nowra without athlete Sarah deVries. Sarah has competed at many Country Championships and always competes in a large selection of events. At 24, Sarah competes in the Women’s Opens events. Sarah had a tough field of competitors; especially in the Sprint events where there were many talented and representative athletes. Sarah did herself and the Club proud though. She won gold in the triple jump, and silver in the 100m hurdles, and placed 4thin the 400m hurdles, 4th in 400m sprint, 11th in the 100m and 9th in 200m; and always competed with a big smile.
Sarah’s brother Jordan deVries also had a big program and competed with success. Jordan won triple bronze medals with a 3rd place in the 18/19 years 110m hurdles, long jump and triple jump and also finished 5th in high jump.

Newcomers and youngsters Ryan and Lachlan Smith went home with an impressive haul of medals in their first Championship event. Ryan won gold in the 12 years javelin and silver in the 11 years shot put, as well as the 800m and 1500m .Lachlan won gold in the 13 years javelin, silver in the 800m and finished 6th in the 13 years long jump and 4th in 400m.

The Johnson family are seasoned athletes at Country Championships and once again, they achieved great results, despite being plagued with injuries. On Day 1 of the competition Chris Johnson won bronze in the 40-49 years shot put, Callum Johnson won bronze in the 12 years discus and Ben Johnson won bronze in the 13 years discus. Day 2 they added to their collection with another bronze to Chris in the hammer throw, a bronze to Ben in the shot put and a silver in the javelin and a bronze to Ebony in the 16 years discus. On Day 3 there was more to add to their bags; this time a gold to Ebony in the javelin, and a bronze in shot put; and a bronze to Callum in high jump. Fantastic results!

Of course the Peace girls dominated in their field events with Samantha Peace winning the Opens Discus and sister Annette Peace winning the 15 years discus as well as the 17 years Hammer Throw.

On the track 10 year old Matthew Higham blitzed the field in his 200m in a time of 30.60 seconds, well ahead of second place who crossed in 35.82 seconds. Matthew also won bronze in the 800m and gold in the high jump.

9 year old Alisha Mustapic competed in the 10 years discus at her first championship event placing 4th whilst older sister Tara ran in the 3000m, finishing 7th, and dad Glen won silver in both the 5000 metre run and 3000m steeplechase. Glen also enjoyed a return to competition jumping, placing 5th in the 40-49 years long jump and 4th in high jump.

Rhys and Emily Burinaga both contested the throwing events; Emily won silver in the 12 years javelin and placed 4th in both the discus and shot put whilst Rhys won silver in the 14 years discus. Meanwhile Jess and Bree O’Donnell sprinted well in their chosen events, showing great form with Jess taking home silver in the 14 years 200m and bronze in the 100m; whilst Bree finished a commendable 6th in both the 16 years 200m and 400m against a strong field.

Max Buckham had an exciting win in the 14 years 800m, in front of fellow Nowra team mate Lachlan Smith and also took bronze in the 1500m. Shenay Edwards; another 800m runner led the 16 years event the whole way and had a convincing win. She also won silver in the 400m.

Emerson and Hannah Brian were joined by mum and dad on the track this year; with both Danny and Emma Brian competing in the senior relays. Hannah competed in three events and won three medals, silver in both the 11 years 100m and 200m and bronze in long jump whilst Emerson took silver in the 17 years 100m.

Nowra had a strong contingent of 15 year olds competing at the Championships. In the 15 years boy’s Cooper Thomson, Blake Hartnett, Lachlan Kaszonyi and Jesse Buckham showed off their recent training, earning some great results and all winning medals. The girls 15 years age group was also well represented with Mikayla Check, Mariama McKern, Jenna Bentley, Victoria Kennedy, and Jessie Boardman competing; earning some fantastic results and bagging some more medals for Nowra. Together these athletes formed strong 15 years relay teams with both the boys and girls team winning gold in the relay events. Corey McConville, Hannah Stone, and Ethan Havadjia all competed in a large variety of events across track and field demonstrating trademark enthusiasm and athleticism; all of them earning medals. Corey was in fact Nowra’s most versatile athlete, competing in a massive 7 individual events.

Byron van Dyk certainly made the most of his single event; which was the very last event of the track program on Sunday afternoon, winning the 14 years 800m, well ahead of second place.

In the older youth events there was also a good representation from Nowra. Troy Whittington won bronze in the mens open 5000m, whilst Liam Dooley scooped the pool in the jumping events, firstly claiming silver in the 18/19 years long jump and high jump, and then gold in the triple jump as well as silver in the steeplechase. Tim O’Shea continued his running comeback in the 0pens 1500m. Zac Havadjia and Cam Musgrove also exercised some friendly competition on the track, both contesting the 18/19 years 200m, 400m and 800m. Cam won the silver in both the 400m and 800m ahead of Zac whilst Zac finished in 4th place in the 200m in front of Cam in 7th place. Zac also placed 4th in the 100m and 3rd in discus.

In the seniors events veteran distance runner Crissy Suffolk won gold in the 40-49 years 3000m, Geoff Crook won bronze in 50-59 years javelin and Kevyn Davis impressed the announcer and crowd with his barefoot run in the 3000m, claiming bronze. Peter Dooley battled an Achilles injury throughout the 50-59 years 1500m but still managed to grab silver.

Deb Clark competed in both track and field events but was most impressive in the 50-59 years 200m where she dug deep and demonstrated some gutsy determination to finish 4th with strong form all the way to the finish line.

Chris Johnson and Andrew Havadjia demonstrated some friendly sporting rivalry in the field, with Andrew throwing the javelin just 1 cm further than Chris to take 5th place in the 40-49 years event and then once again beating Chris in the discus with his final throw. Both men also contested the 100m sprint with Andrew again edging out Chris taking 11th place in front of Chris’ 13th place. Fortunately the friendship is still intact!

Janie Hamilton won several medals in 30-39 year old age group in her first Country Championships event; claiming bronze in discus and the 100m and a triumphant gold in the 200m.

Paul Musgrove jumped his way into two bronze medals in the 40-49 years long jump and high jump and tested his sprinting prowess in both the 100m and 200m whilst Darlene Musgrove returned to the track after a fractured foot and had fun running in the 100m and 200m events. Andrew Rodda was undecided about competing; right up until the starting gun fired due to a niggling injury but went on to win bronze in the 40-49 years 100m.

The Relays were of course a highlight again this year with Nowra entering 8 teams. There were two gold medals won for the 15 years events but there were many more golden moments amongst the relay events including 11 year old Hannah Brian running the first leg of the Opens relay, against much older components and holding her own to the first baton change. There was the Men’s ‘A’ team versus ‘B’ team ‘beers on the line’ relay rivalry and there was Emma Brian competing for the very first time at any athletic competition in the Women’s 30+ team; almost missing the start of the race but recovering well to run the third leg.

As always, Nowra athletes showed great camaraderie and supported each other throughout the Championship event. It was a great weekend of fun, friendly competition; a time for celebrating personal improvement and achievements! Every athlete competing was a winner for getting out there and having a go!