Inside Athletics

Weekly Wrap: Rouge-Serret, Wruck, Mitchell and McNeill join the A-club; Australians outclassed at world cross country

In what is the last major weekend of athletics prior to the Australian championships in Perth on 16-18 April, Aaron Rouge-Serret, Julian Wruck, Kathryn Mitchell and David McNeill secured the coveted A-qualifiers for the Commonwealth Games.

The standout performer was Rouge-Serret, who took full advantage of the pristine conditions at the WA championships to slash his personal best of 10.33 seconds to 10.17 seconds (+1.8 m/s). The performance moves the Victorian world championships relay representative to equal fifth on the Australian all-time list for the distance.

The only other new athlete to post an A-qualifier during the NSW, Victorian or Western Australian state championships was Kathryn Mitchell, who broke the Victorian record with a throw of 59.68m in the javelin and joins world championships representative Kim Mickle on the A-qualifier list.

In the United States, 19 year old Julian Wruck, now based at Texas Tech University, fell less than a metre short of Werner Reiterer's Australian junior record with the 2kg implement in the discus with a throw of 61.02 metres at the Texas Tech Open. The performance was well in excess of the the Commonwealth Games A-qualifier of 59.00 metres and placed him second in the competition behind the world class 69.90m throw from Jason Young.

Also in the United States, David McNeill lowered his personal best in the 5000m to 13:25.63 in winning the event at the Stanford Invitational. McNeill now joins Collis Birmingham, Ben St Lawrence and Shawn Forrest as athletes who have achieved the Commonwealth Games A-qualifier in the event.

McNeill's distance contemporaries had mixed performances at the world cross country championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. With the events dominated by East African athletes, particularly Kenyans, it was a distance running masterclass on offer over the cold, muddy course. If a pass mark for the course was a finish in a top half of the field in their event, only Benita Willis (17th), Lara Tamsett (32nd), Liam Adams (38th) and Kevin Batt (junior men's - 39th) can claim success out of the 16 Australians who toed the starting line. The open men's race was taken out by Joseph Ebuya - the first Kenyan to win the event since 1999 - whilst Emily Chebet won the open women's title in a sprint finish from Linet Masai.

Back on the track in Australia, the Western Australian championships delivered strong all-round performances. Aside from Rouge-Serret's breakthrough 100m run, Amanda Bisk improved her personal best to 4.40m in the pole vault ahead of an equal personal best of 4.30m to Liz Parnov and NSWs Laura Whaler clocked a new personal best and Commonwealth Games B-qualifier of 11.46 seconds (+0.7 m/s) in the 100m ahead of a 11.60 second run by Crystal Attenborough, after a 11.41 (+2.5 m/s) wind-assisted run in the heats.

The most anticipated race of the weekend depth wise - the men's 800m at the NSW championships - was a fizzer in terms of the times recorded. With no athlete courageous enough to take the initiative and the lead in the early stages of the race, the first lap was covered in a pedestrian 58.41 seconds. As is almost inevitable at such a farcical pace there was a fall amongst the closely bunched field, with Tristan Garrett the casualty. When the pace did liven it was Beijing Olympian Lachlan Renshaw who was took fast in the run to the line, crossing the line for victory in 1:51.47 ahead of James Kaan (1:51.74) and James Gurr (1:51.98) with national champion Nick Bromley (4th) and 1500m specialist Jeremy Roff (5th) finishing outside of the medals.

While the top men's 800m line up was in NSW, a virtual dress rehearsal of the women's national final was conducted at the Victorian championships, with only Holly Noack and Caitlin Pincott notable absences. With only Madeleine Pape currently possessing a qualifying performance for the Commonwealth Games (2:00.70 from July last year) the intent of the field to challenge the B-qualifying standard of 2:03.00 was clear from the outset. Pape led the field from Katherine Katsanevakis and Sianne Toemoe until the 600m mark when Katsanevakis made her move for home. Despite a strong chase from Toemoe the Victorian, who took out the 2005 national title when aged only 16, was too strong and crossed the line just outside the standard with 2:03.06, with Toemoe clocking a new personal best of 2:03.94 ahead of Pape's 2:04.81.

Other strong performances of the weekend were Dani Samuels' 62.21m discus (NSW); Dale Stevenson's 19.34m shot put (VIC); Petrina Price's 1.89m high jump (NSW); Melissa Breen's 11.42 seconds 100m (NSW); 400m runs of 46.02 seconds to Joel Milburn (NSW) and 46.07 seconds to Ben Offereins (WA); and Georgie Clarke's front running 4:15.41 1500m (VIC).

Videos courtesy of FloTrack and AthsVic TV

Victorian championships photos