Glenny Gold Rush – State Athletics

Two hundred & fifty-five schools from across Victoria converged on Lakeside Stadium on Monday the 16th of October to contest the 2023 ‘School Sport Victoria’ State Track & Field Championships. Our GWSC team consisted of 19 athletes determined to make a ‘STATE’ment both on track and in the field….

With a predicted top of 15 degrees Celsius, gusty winds and heavy showers forecast for most of the day, our 19 strong GWSC Athletics Team were rugged up and looked as though they were about to compete in a Winter Olympics event rather than a summer sport when we jumped off the bus and started our morning stretch and warm-up on track….which turned into a gradual defrost with plenty of ‘Hot Hands’ pouches being passed around from person to person quicker than a potato…..It was pleasing to see that our relay teams were already practicing their precise passing so early in the morning…..

 

We had a number of students competing in individual events, with GWSC competitors qualifying in the Top 8 for the state in two field events and also five races on track. Three of our Track Relay Teams also made the State Finals, bringing our total number of events to ten for the day….which soon turned to night when the track events were delayed by more than an hour due to a steeplechase water jump pit not being filled prior to the start of the competition! Little did they know that the water jump would soon be overflowing, as the persistent precipitation poured down periodically…..

 

Our first athlete to compete was Daisy Robinson (Year 10) who battled not only the bar but also the elements in a wet and windy U15 Girls High Jump event. Daisy cleared the first two heights easily, then the rain set in…. She stoically stood in the showers and cleared the next, but eventually succumbed to the surface that was showing similarities to a slip ‘n slide and exited the competition in 4th place, narrowly missing out on a medal. Up next was our pocket rocket Pakhi Singh (Year 7) who took to the blocks in the U13 Girls 200m dash. Pakhi bolted at the sounds of the starter’s pistol, running a beautiful bend before turning onto the home straight where she really hit her straps. She fought hard all the way to the finish line to record a sublime sub-thirty second time which secured Pakhi 5th place in the state! An amazing run from one of our youngest and most talented athletes…..

 

Two races later, we saw Bryle Egdani (Year 8) line up for the U14 Boys 200m dash. He was certainly hard to miss on the bright blue track in a clean pair of neon pink Nike spikes, which soon turned into a blur as Bryle began bounding ‘round the bend. Bryle took it right up to the field and more than held his own, finishing strongly in fifth and only narrowly missing out on the medals. Daisy then again took to the field, sprinting down the runway and launching herself into the sand during the U15 Girls Long Jump competition. Although the swirling winds and intermittent showers played havoc with a number of her fellow competitor’s run-ups, Daisy hit the board perfectly to record two solid leaps first up and put herself in contention for a top three finish. Unfortunately, she slightly overstepped on her final attempt, resulting in a raising of the red flag, whilst other competitors risked it all to record lengthy legal jumps that unfortunately relegated Daisy into 6th spot....

 

Bohan Hou (Year 9) was next to strap on the spikes and stare down the only flat lap run entirely in one lane as he stood at the starting line of the U14 Boys 400m event. He took off like a rocket, attacking the curve and settling into a controlled cadence along the back straight. As fellow competitors ran up to his shoulder, Bohan responded and found another gear whilst rounding the second and final bend before heading homeward. With a wicked wind whipping Westerly and directly into the faces of the oncoming runners, Bohan gave his all to cross the finish line in 57.50 seconds. An almighty run in a very trying race from an athlete who is still finding his feet in one of the most difficult events on track! Speaking of difficult events, Hridhika Thadani (Year 8) then stepped on track to toe the line for the start of the U13 Girls 1500m race. As soon as the starter’s pistol fired into the air, the pack all attempted to move directly across into the inside lane. Hridhika did extremely well to avoid getting tangled up in this tussle and settled in behind the pack nicely for the first 400m. She then surged forward and stretched the pack out over the next 200m down the back straight, before cleverly sliding back in behind the frontrunners and using their slipstream to stride out more sensibly whilst waiting for her next surge. Again, Hridhika took it up to the pack down the back straight where the wind was pushing her from behind, before tucking in once more to conserve energy as the wind wore down those fighting it out at the front. In a determined display of distance running, Hridhika attacked the field once more at the final bell and headed for home, finishing off her run strongly to record her first Top Ten finish at States!   

 

Kai Nielsen (Year 12) then stood behind the blocks, with a resolute and steely resolve, prior to the start of the U18-20 Boys 400m dash. Kai had previously been runner-up in this event on a number of occasions at the SSV ‘State Titles’, but he had a different energy surrounding him on Monday and looked to be a man on a mission. Kai has dedicated himself to not only improving his own running over the past six years, but also that of many of his fellow athletes at GWSC. He is the first at Athletics training and the last to leave, always assisting with set-up and pack-up. Kai has shown so many Glenny Athletes how to do a block start, how to hold their arms correctly whilst sprinting, how to pass a baton effectively and also how to hug a bend as they are running a 200m or 400m. He deserved to win this event in his final year of school, but we all know that not all stories have a happy ending. However, this one did…..Kai pushed out from the blocks powerfully at the start of his race, before finding his rhythm and surging to the lead down the back straight. He was 15m clear of second place by the time they swung around the final bend and sprinted for the finish line. Kai stormed home to stop the clock in 52.20 seconds, more than a second and a half in front of the second placed athlete from McKinnon Secondary College. It was such an incredible sight to behold as Kai stood atop the winner’s dais with the gold medal draped around his neck whilst the event announcer proclaimed that Kai was the 2023 State Champion in the U18-20 Boys 400m! A well deserved reward for an incredibly dedicated and talented young man….Kudos to you Kai, we look forward to welcoming you back to Glenny to help coach our 2024 Athletics Team!

 

As the sun began to sink below the stands surrounding Lakeside, the luminous lights towering over the stadium began to flicker on…..This signalled the start of the Track Relays! Our U13 Girls 4 x 100m Relay Team (Avaani Krishna, Fei Fei Du, Elsie Robinson, Pakhi Singh – Year 7) qualified quickest for the State Final and were determined to transport their baton safely around the track at top speed. Avaani ran a lightning fast first leg to hand over the baton to Fei Fei within the first changeover zone, well in front of their fellow competitors. Fei Fei then flew down the back straight and safely sent the baton on its way with Elsie around the final bend. Elsie put the foot down and slipped the baton seamlessly into Pakhi’s left hand as they simultaneously stretched out onto the home straight, at which point Pakhi bolted toward the finish line to easily secure our second State Championship for the day! An emphatic victory for an almighty team who fellow competitors are set to fear for many years to come if they maintain their determination, drive and dedication at training and in competition…..

 

Our next team on track were the U14 Boys Relay Team (Isaiah Khoo, Henry Robinson, Bryle Egdani – Year 8  &  Sandil Chinthamani Hettige - Year 9) who were looking to go Back-2-Back and win their second consecutive State Title in the 4x100m Track Relay. Sandil started superbly and set the tone for the team, sprinting to the front before handing over the baton to Isaiah. In the blink of an eye, Isaiah was half way down the back straight and had extended our teams lead to almost 5m. Isaiah then performed a perfect pass with Henry, who wound up ‘round the final curve to distance our team even further from those trailing behind. With a precise push and secure wrap of the baton, Bryle was then on his way to the finish line, completing the combined 400m in 48.64 seconds with 10m of daylight back to the runner’s up. Our U14 Boys Relay Team were now officially gold medallists, but also Back-2-Back State Champs on the track! This is an amazing achievement for these four impressive young men, who set themselves the challenge of backing up their victory last year and successfully defended their State Relay Title! We look forward to watching on as our boys attempt to record a ‘Three-Peat’ of State Titles in 2024….

 

Our final runners on track were the U15 Girls 4 x 100m Relay Team (Sakura Majoor & Thiyaga Nanayakkara – Year 8, Anya Nielsen – Year 9, Daisy Robinson – Year 10) who were determined to finish off our State Athletics program with a massive performance…..and wow, did they deliver on their promise! With a combination of two U14 and two U15 runners, our U15 Girls Relay Team were ready to show their fellow competitors in the State Final that age is no barrier to running fast! Sakura led off and in a brilliant display of blistering speed, quickly had the baton safely in Anya’s hand. Anya then ran the back straight wonderfully well and had our team in third position when she securely passed the baton onto Daisy. Running a tight bend, Daisy held our position in the race up until the final change where she used some inventive sleight of hand to exchange the baton with Thiyaga, who never looked back as she completed the final leg of the relay to secure our team a Bronze medal at States! Our girls were over the moon with their Top 3 finish, as were the raucous Glenny Cheer Squad in the stands….

 

Special mentions and thanks also to our emergency runners and student coaches, who not only assisted our relay teams to qualify for the State Championships but also supported them throughout each and every moment of their events. Kudos to Sita Chin (Year 7), Kate Lee (Year 7), Charlotte Lee (Year 8) and Medha Venu (Year 9) – your continued encouragement, calming influence and fantastic cheering really helped all of our Glenny Athletes! Thank-you all for also helping to warm-up your team mates and ensure that they marshalled for their events on time. You are all an integral part of our team and helped us to finish 16th overall in the Teams Competition out of 255 schools, which is an absolutely phenomenal achievement!!!!

 

A GIANT thanks to all of our GWSC staff members who assisted with our after-school Athletics Training Program sessions this year! It has been another very successful year in relation to students achieving personal bests, in addition to qualifying for both the region and state championships. All of our amazing athletes couldn’t have done this without the continued support and dedication of our superb staff members who assist our extracurricular Sports Program.

 

We would also like to pass on a MASSIVE THANK-YOU to Mr Neil Hutchins who kindly volunteered his time and expertise to help coach and mentor our GWSC ‘Track & Field’ Team during the 2023 ‘School Sport Victoria’ Waverley Division, Eastern Metropolitan Region and State Athletics Championships. Neil not only supports our team on competition days, but also coaches many of our athletes for free at the Waverley Little Athletics Centre. He does so as he has a long-standing connection with our College, having previously attended Syndal Technical School which was one of the schools that amalgamated to form Glen Waverley Secondary College as we know it today. Neil is an invaluable asset to our GWSC Athletics program and has helped to develop many of our students into the confident athletes they are today!

 

Finally, we would also like to thank both Mr Crotty and Mr Robinson who supervised, motivated, helped coach and cheered on our athletes and relay teams at both the Eastern Metropolitan Region Championships and also the ‘School Sport Victoria’ State Track & Field Championships this year.

 

We look forward to an even bigger and better year of Track and Field at GWSC in 2024, here’s hoping the amazing efforts of our 2023 State Athletics Championships representatives, medallists and victors inspires even more students at our college to have a go at a run, jump or throw in the very near future!

 

#GoGlennyAthletics!