Oceania cross country champions James Nipperess and Celia Sullohern added the Australian titles to their names today in Adelaide.
However, their individual victories weren't enough to guide NSW to team titles, with the depth of Victorian distance running out shining their northern counterparts in wet, muddy conditions.
Nipperess won his maiden national title in a sprint finish from Victoria's Chris Hamer, with Mitch Brown third. The surprise of the race was dual City to Surf winner Liam Adams, who was a pale comparison to his recent form in finishing 11th.
"Hamer put it on and the Vic boys really tried hard to run the legs off me but I stayed as tough as I could and was lucky enough to come away with the win against some tough opposition," Nipperess said.
“These races are so much tougher than state based races because all the best guys are racing each other. The Vic guys, Hamer, Adams and Brown all took a go at the lead and I was really feeling the pinch but as I said I tried to take control on the last lap through the mud and run the better line and was lucky enough to come good.
“I practiced for this race by specifically doing a cross country race in New Zealand (two weeks ago). It was a lot muddier than this so I was confident coming in knowing that the course was going to be muddy because I’d been there before, had performed well there and am happy how it went today.”
20-year-old Sullohern completed the rare feat of winning an open national title the year after having taken out the junior crown, pulling away from Victoria's Sinead Diver and NSWs Milly Clark.
“I’m thrilled. I really didn’t know what to expect stepping up into the Open so I was just hoping to have a good run in the front pack of girls so I was surprised to find myself on my own on the last lap," Sullohern said.
Full results are available at http://nswathletics.info/liveresults/2012/aaxc12/