It was a battle between country and state for the 2022 Oceania Relay and Australian Junior and Youth Mixed Relay Championships at yesterday’s Werribee South Beach Triathlon.
Backing up from Saturday’s Oceania Triathlon Junior Championships and Super Sprint racing, Australia’s young guns raced with team spirit, over the 600m run, 6km bike and 1.2km run duathlon course in Werribee.
Heavy rain on Friday night made the course unsuitable for swimming with the 250m swim leg replaced by a 600m run leg to decide the Oceania and Australian Mixed Relay Champions.
In the Junior Relay, from the individual results in the Oceania Triathlon Junior Championships, the favour was shaping up Australia’s way with five of the six Junior Oceania sprint podium places from the previous day, but with a race within a race for a national title between states on the line, it was far from an easy pick.
In the end it was New Zealand who took top spot, beating out Australia’s top placed team, NSW 1, who earned the title of Australian Junior Champions in second place ahead of state rivals Queensland in third and Victoria fourth overall in the Junior relay.
Led off by Henry McMecking, New Zealand were on a mission to bring home the win for NZ and trans-tasman bragging rights, but not without a good contest from the Aussies. Peyton Craig, Georgia Fredricks and Toby Powers, of Queensland Team 1, pushed to-and-fro with the two NZ teams early on.
Emma Olson-Keating of NSW 1 (with Monty Dixon, Liam Dixon, Grace Henry) was set up well to reel back the leaders in a solo effort, resulting in the second fastest women’s race split of the day behind Sophie Spencer (NZL).
New Zealand were able to force a lead towards the back end of the race, when the Queensland Team 1 were forced to retire after the third leg.
And it was Spencer, with an impressive effort on the bike, who built a convincing lead for New Zealand and charged first across the line ahead of NSW 1’s Henry in second place (1:05:49) with Queensland Team 2 pushing through for 3rd (1:06:27).
In the Australian Youth Mixed Relay Championship, athletes competed in teams of two (male/female) which made for a competitive youth relay.
Victoria claimed a sweet home victory with Saturday’s dominant Jackson Wright and Natasha Gurtler finishing first in 33.40, followed by QLD 1's Dylan Smith and Hannah Pollock second (33.46) and NSW’s Rhys Olson-Keating and Skye Bell with a strong performance for a close third (34.13), ahead of Riley Wingad who was just one-second behind (in a joint VIC/QLD team effort with Oliver Moxon).
It was another display of the exciting talent in Australia’s pathways, and a buzzing atmosphere as state teammates cheered from the side lines to close out a weekend of unpredictable and fast-paced racing at Werribee South Beach.
Triathlon Australia’s National Talent Development Coach, Brendan Sexton said, “it was really positive to see some of the composite state teams towards the front. The reality of Mixed Relay racing is adaptability, and getting on with the job at hand is key to repeatable success and the athletes displayed those exact qualities across the competition".
“The youth was a similar affair with plenty of lead change throughout the “two-up” style of the format. Having raced over the short course twice already the previous day as well as the additional layer of racing for a team mate there was an obvious shift in aggressiveness and confidence in being able to go out hard and push the limits.
“The exhausted bodies at the change-over and finish line was evidence that these athletes filled their brief for the weekend.
“It was great for me to see a spread of various state representation on the podium and a bonus for the locals taking the National title in Jackson Wright and Natasha Gurtler.”
Oceania Junior Relay Championships
1st | New Zealand: Henry McMecking, Charlotte Brown, Samuel Parry, Sophie Spencer
2nd | Australia II: Monty Dixon, Emma-Olson Keating, Liam Dixon, Grace Henry
3rd | Australia IV: Brayden Mercer, Briana Mow, Jordan Chugg, Sophie Burger
Australian Junior Mixed Relay Championships
1st | NSW – Monty Dixon, Emma-Olson Keating, Liam Dixon, Grace Henry
2nd | QLD – Brayden Mercer (VIC), Briana Mow, Jordan Chugg, Sophie Burger
3rd | VIC – Harvey Lanigan, Paige Cranage (SA), Jacob Mckie, Skye Wallace
Australian Youth Mixed Relay Championships
1st | VIC – Jackson Wright, Natasha Gurtler
2nd | QLD – Dylan Smith, Hannah Pollock
3rd | NSW – Rhys Olson-Keating, Skye Bell