Geraldton continue stellar athletics season with strong performance at open athletic championships

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Riley Heinrich, Nevaeh Hill and Ella Batten.
Camera IconRiley Heinrich, Nevaeh Hill and Ella Batten. Credit: Supplied

The best in the west were on show at the WA open track and field championships in Floreat as Geraldton athletes added more medals to their season tally.

Held over four days from March 2-5, Geraldton was represented by 16 athletes in various disciplines, collecting 12 medals against some of the State’s leading competitors.

Mid West Academy of Sports champion athlete Nevaeh Hill had an outstanding competition collecting gold in the 400m hurdles in a good time of 64sec. and followed it up with a personal best 14.8sec. in the 100m hurdles to claim a second gold.

MWAS coach Gary Clark said this would hold Hill in good stead to medal again at the national titles in Brisbane in early April.

MWAS heptathlete Ella Batten also had a good meet, collecting silver in the high jump with a leap of 1.60m and bronze in the triple jump with a good 10.46m in the under-18 division.

Batten is also on track to be a medal contender come April.

Sophie Batten overcame a bout of gastro to take bronze in the 400m hurdles while Shiloh O’Reilly was a big improver on the weekend, taking gold in the high jump and bronze in the 200m hurdles as part of a busy six-event program.

Clark said one of the highlights of the four-day event was seeing MWAS athletes fill the first three places in the combined women’s 2000m steeple.

Christi Bestry took out the under-16 events in a good time of 7min. 27sec. followed by Nicole Chamberlain in 7min. 49sec., with under-18 competitor Samaia Friesen collecting gold in her division with an 8min. 16sec. performance.

Freisen also claimed silver in the 3000m and a bronze in the 1500m while Bestry finished third in the 3000m and is expected to challenge for a podium in Brisbane.

While there were no further medals, Alyssa Bergsma, Logan Kirkland and Tahlia Singleton all achieved personal bests.

Riley Heinrich, returning from a major back injury, finished an unlucky fourth in the 2000m steeple and went on to make the final in the 400m.

There were many other good performances from both MWAS and the Geraldton Athletics Centre athletes.

However, there was misfortune for Wynand Neethling, who had suffered an Achilles strain in the weeks leading up to the championships.

At the 50m mark of the 100, after being with the leading runners, the Achilles tendon went again and Neethling could only limp to the line.

He did, however, come out the next day and made the finals of the discus, finishing sixth.

Clark was pleased with all the MWAS athletes, suggesting with the continued improvement shown at these championships he expected many of them to be pushing for a berth in the WA team when the Australian titles come to Perth in 2024.

Geraldton Athletics Club president Phil Hadley acknowledged his club was extremely grateful for the support of MWAS as athletics gained momentum and grew pathways to an elite level

“We wish our junior athletes all the best as they compete in two weeks at the State junior athletics championships,” he said.

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