From the air, images of Oxley College are deceptive. It’s not until you get in there on the ground that you realise how many small buildings, multiple levels, nooks and crannies, and twists and turns the campus has to offer. Add to that a slope that offers a proper hill climb, and panoramic views of the Dandenongs from the arena, and you have a great Sprint venue.
Course setter Ewen Templeton opted for a map flip for the Mo and Sally courses. The first section threw us straight into the campus, where quick thinking and constant map contact were critical. We popped out onto the oval for the Sprint leg, and flipped our maps, only to realise that we had to dash straight back, then straight into a really tough Hill Climb. Then it was back into the buildings for a second loop. The final stages west of the arena, with less complexity but more contours. This was a Sprint that tested both brains and legs in equal measure.
The Mo Mens course winner this week was Brodie Nankervis in 14.24. Brodie grabbed the lead at control 5, and kept it all the way to control 29. Early leader Peter Hodkinson finished second, followed by Kerrin Rattray in third. Brodie is now the holder of the Yellow Jersey. Junior Brody McCarthy once again dominated both Sprint and Hillclimb legs. He keeps the Green Jersey, while Bruce Arthur still holds the Polkadot Jersey
On the Mo Womens, Tash was determined to make amends for last week’s mispunch, and she snatched first place in 17.04. Liis Johanson was leading all the way up to control 21, when Tash finally overtook her, with Lanita Steer also right up there. Liis retains the Yellow Jersey, but will she keep it till the end? With both Mel and Clare absent, the door opened on the jersey legs. Liis won the Sprint leg but the Green Jersey moves to Lanita’s keeping; Tash took the Hill Climb and the Polkadot.
History was made when, for the first time in five years, the Sally Pearson course had more competitors than the Mo! Sally is super competitive, and very popular with juniors as they’ve moved up from Usain, as well as with the more mature competitors who haven’t quite got the stamina for Mo.
Sally Mens winner Jensen Key had to work hard for his victory, and did not move into the lead until leg 17. In fact the race chopped and changed, with early leader Haydn Tang being overtaken by Mason Arthur right before the map flip. Callum White consistently worked his way through the field into third place. Will Davey won the Sprint leg, but Steven O’Connell retains the Green Jersey; Rod Phillips took the Hill Climb and is firming as favourite to keep the Polkadot Jersey.
We had an exciting finish on the Sally Womens. Janine Steer was looking like a repeat winner for most of the afternoon, until last starter Heather O’Donnell crossed the finish line 39 seconds in front. Third placegetter Sarah Davies was the early race leader, but Heather got her nose in front on leg 6. Janine still has the Yellow Jersey. Kate Francis won the Sprint leg and is definitely the one to beat for the Green Jersey. Kate also won the Hill Climb, but Heather’s second gave her enough points to be in the Polkadot.
The Usain Mens course was won by Ashley White, who led from start to finish. Second was Reynah Tang and third was Evan Gavens. Ashley holds the Yellow Jersey. Reynah Tang won both the Sprint and the Hill Climb legs.
It was a different picture for the Women. Claire Adams shot out of the gate for the early lead. Luca Bogdanovits moved to the front at control 3, but Milla Key overtook her at control 10 and went on to win. Luca was second and Annabelle Davey finished third. Milla and Claire split the points for the Sprint leg, with Claire keeping the Green Jersey. Paula Davey won the Hill Climb and retains the Polkadot.
Our thanks to Oxley College for making their facilities available to us. Next week we return to a campus that always seems to throw up surprises – VU Edgewater. During our first visit, someone turned on the giant sprinklers to water the parkland adjacent to the campus – route choice became all about minimising saturation! On our next foray, we came across a wedding party, which had set up right across the obvious route choice between two controls. No-one told us there was another booking! As a result we all photobombed the wedding, much to the amusement/consternation of the guests. Stay tuned – anything can happen at Sprint Into Spring!