Endless summer of athletics

AV Shield Final


3000m metres might have been the longest race of the day but Saturday’s AV Shield Final was a marathon of track and field with nearly eleven hours of competition at Lakeside Stadium. MUAC’s Division 1 Men and Women, arrayed against the strongest clubs in Victoria, were in contention for glory for much of the day, ultimately finishing fourth and sixth in Victoria’s largest single day of track and field. Perched on the scoreboard hill, the MUAC HQ was humming all day with activity as athletes and coaches planned and reviewed competition.  Befitting the members area, it was also the only place serving full strength beer.


The women’s team started off the day with Gwen Thornton in the 400m hurdles the first of five events for the day for her over the full 11 hours of the program. Notable performances came from team wins in the High Jump (Kaitlin Morgan, 2nd 1.70m and Hannah Alderton, 3rd, 1.65m) and 3000m (Sarah James, 2nd, 10:10.20, Sarah McSweeney, 4th, 10:15.60, Martine Botha, 14th, 11:58.14 and Alex Bull, 12:00.47).  Athletes stepped up to fill gaps in the team including our two pole vaulting stalwarts Kath Iannello and Cath Macrae in the 200m, Olivia Honore in the 800m having not run for more than a month and the return of Sarah McSweeney from Brisbane to compete for MUAC.  The excitement reached a crescendo at dusk with a thrilling 4x400m. Elizabeth Ruach and Ellen Schaef put MUAC in second, behind reigning Victorian 4x400m Champions Sandringham. Kaitlin Morgan, after strong performances in the high jump and triple jump, and a restorative nap, returned to blast MUAC to the lead at the final change.  Gwen Thornton, MUAC’s first and final competitor for the team, took the baton 5 metres up on Tamsyn Manou, 18 times Australian Champion and pushed her all the way, ceding the lead only after 250m and never giving up through to the line.  The team finished in 6th place on 448 points, just 35 from the premiership in an incredibly close title fight.


The team battle was just as intense in Mens Division 1, with the lead changing hands several times over the competition and MUAC consistently in the hunt. Aaron Page led off the team in the 400m hurdles, and would last the day out, running the final leg of the 4x400m 11 hours later. Sam Blake and Joel Baden took MUAC’s two individual victories of the day.  Blake continued his recent good form, running a personal best in the 800m with an evenly paced 1:51.55. Sub 1:50 can’t be far away with championship season looming.  Baden took to the close conditions well, clearing 2.24m on his third attempt and coming startlingly close to clearing 2.29m, the Olympic Qualifier on his first attempt at the height. Baden combined with Julian O’Donnell and Jarrod Pageot for a team victory in the high jump.  Kudos to Junkers Zhou for getting there, despite a bingle in his car. For the first time in some years, MUAC fielded a full team of walkers with MUAC life member Theo Tsichrintzis, Tim Thomas and Hamish Beaumont taking to the track to ensure every scoring spot available was filled.  After the 800m, the penultimate event of the day, MUAC moved into 3rd place, a precarious 8 points ahead of Essendon.  Whomever crossed the line first would take third place.  The relay team of Sam Blake, Junkers Zhou, Ahmed Badawy and Aaron Page ran an impressive race to come third in 3:24.03, but two places behind Essendon, who would reclaim third on the ladder.

Many thanks to the coaches, athletes and volunteers who helped out all day, and especially to Tim Thomas for set up, lap scoring and marshalling duties.


MUAC will be in action at next at the 100th Victorian Mile Championships on Tuesday, 23rd February at the Rawlinson Track.

AV Shield Final