Athletes shine at state titles
IT WAS again gold, gold, gold and gold for Rheed McCracken at the Queensland Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships at QEII Stadium which concluded on Sunday.
Another seven Bundaberg and District students shared in the gold rush over the four days – Penny Haapakoski and Angela Clissold both with two, and one each to Taryn Gollshewsky, brothers David and Matthew Fulton, Brenton Thiele and Sarah Landsdown.
A further seven locals featured in minor medals – Emily Gray, Brad Cole, Tyniah Thompson, Cody Stibbards, James Quinn, Jack Horton and David Wilson.
McCracken, of Bundaberg High, swept all before him in the Athletes With a Disability (AWD) boys 13 years 100m, 200m, 400m and discus.
He had previously racked up multiple national and state gold, but this was his first major competition in a wheelchair, and it was a whole new experience for him.
As always, McCracken rose to the challenge, and his quest to represent Australia at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London will be further boosted when he receives a new wheelchair in the near future.
Gin Gin High’s Haapakoski took out the girls 18-19 years discus and javelin double, also extending her list of state titles.
But the 18-year-old year 11 student said she “just dabbles (in athletics)” these days and that while she may compete at the Open Nationals in March, she had little preparation and has no great aspirations in sport these days.
Clissold, 15, carried Kepnock to the fore with gold in the AWD girls 100m and 200m and silver in shot put and discus.
“Two years ago, I got four silver, and last year I got one gold and three silver, so I’m improving each year,” Clissold said.
“I also competed in the Pan Pacific Schools Games two years ago and got gold in discus, but I don’t know yet whether I’ll be able to go to this year’s nationals.”
Fellow Kepnock student Gollshewsky continued her domination of the state discus, taking the girls 17 years gold and also collecting bronze in shot put.
Despite setting a new record at 48.69m, the Australian Junior World Championships representative said she was not overly happy as it was “far from a PB”.
“But any state record and gold is always good,” Gollshewsky said.
After competing in the Brisbane and Sydney Grand Prix meetings last season, the dynamic all-round talent said she would pick up that circuit after the schools nationals.
The first day of the championships was very special for the Fulton brothers, of Bundaberg Christian College, with David achieving his goal of gold in the boys 16 years high jump, then Matthew stepping on to the field and rising to a new level with a surprise victory in the boys 15 years shot put.
David said he was “definitely happy” to get gold even though his jump of 1.94m was below his PB and target of at least 2m.
“But it was enough to win and I had bad shin splints,” David said.
He went on to add triple jump bronze and was “unlucky not to medal” when fourth in long jump.
David has his sights set on the 2012 World Junior Championships.
Inspired by his elder brother, Matthew did a 35cm shot put PB to triumph at his first state titles.
Thiele, of Shalom College, achieved his first state medal with a second behind an older runner in the boys 13-15 years 200m hurdles, but he went one better in his final event near the end of Sunday’s program with a notable victory in the boys 14 years 100m hurdles.
He was delighted and said the improvement was a result of hard work under his coach Rob Hooper.
Landsdown did Bundaberg Special School proud with her gold in her AWD girls 800m and silver in the 100m.
Gray, of St Luke’s, took silver in the girls 13 years high jump but missed gold by an agonising .03m with her leap of 1.53m.
Isis student Cole grabbed bronze in the boys 17 years 200m, while Thompson, of Bundaberg North, achieved four top-10 finishes with her best being bronze in the girls 14 years 200m. Stibbards, of Bundaberg High, picked up bronze in his AWD boys 200m event.
Bundaberg also featured in the boys 15-16 years 4x100m relay team which secured bronze with 15-year-olds Quinn, Horton and Wilson joined by Anton Kurtz.
Quinn, of St Luke’s also missed gold in the boys 15 years 100m by just 0.45sec, placing a close fourth in the final after winning his heat.
Many of the other 40 regional athletes also excelled without figuring in medals.