Grab yourself a coffee this could take a while..
To start with an understatement, there were plenty of highlights at the Hooley Relays on 14/7/2018, Bastille Day to be precise, and SKAAC did the conquering it’s fair to say.
Firstly the SKAAC Day started at 2:30am (4:30am Christchurch time) for Kelsey Berryman to catch a plane to Melbourne to act as recorder for the Mens Div 1 team, Ooooohhh and to watch Brad a little bit as well too.
Arguably the best day possible greated all that woke on this day, 14-15 degrees with great sunshine and near still conditions…The Hooley was on and SKAAC were ready.
30 athletes, 6 Mens teams and 2 Female teams would be, if not our largest ever contingent, certainly our largest in 30 years.
A great profile of athletes would wear the famous SKAAC colours. Brothers (Thomas & Samuel Scroggie and Harry & Jack Bowen), Brother & Sister combination (Josh & Isabelle Collins) Housemates (Tristan Mioni/Liv Mitchell/Maddie Tricarico) past SKC Cross Country Captains (Simon Field, Brosie McCann, Ned O’Brien, Joe Lynch) Current SKC Cross Country Captain (Will Lewis), National Level Decathletes (Dan Bailey) Current SKC Coaches (Steve Fabris, Jeremy Weeks) and Mother & Sons & Brothers (Chloe Cornwell, Gabe, John & Charlie) and we can also claim a Father & Son (with Andrew and Angus Down, Andrew competing with Old Brighton) and our Commonwealth Games Finalist (Brad Mathas).
The Mens Div 1 Team, was on paper a very strong team, but would be facing a stern test from Old Welsey, Old Xavs & Scotch. In a blistering start Steve Knuckey (8:50, Old Wesley) would lead home Brad Mathas (8:56) to hand a 6 second lead for Will Lewis to chase down one of the better athletes in the state in Lachlan Aspinall, Will Lewis (9:31) was sensational to hand over to Simon Field with Old Wesley in sight. Fieldy is a legend, warm-up with a kick-of-the-footy with his son Josh and then to business. Belting out a 9:42 leg and putting SKAAC into a narrow lead of 14 seconds, before the handover to Matthew Hussey. Matt would extend the lead to 20 seconds before Brad would attack again, running nearly the same time (8:57) the race was SKAAC’s for the keeping. Will Lewis attacked hard and was rewarded with 9:26 with Fieldy (9:46) and Matt a big drop running 9:33. In a gripping race where Old Wesley were always within striking distance, it was a great effort to get the win against such strong opposition. The final margin of 47 seconds over 24km was pretty slim indeed.
If you thought that would be hard to top, then the performance of the Women’s team did!! Our first ever female win at the Hooley, with two outstanding juniors leading the way, along with super recruit Maddie Tricarico. The fact that every member of the winning Women’s team has had their first APSOC run this season is testament to the work of Tristan Mioni and Sam Doble, the SKAAC Winter Team Managers.
In a fantastic piece of trivia, the Women’s team actually beat the SKAAC Mens team over the finish line. (Total time 73:56 versus 75:41 for the men)
However, back to the racing, where it too would be Old Wesley, along with the traditional powerhouse of Old Xavs proving the worthiest of opponents. Isabelle Collins, on her APSOC debut, would lead off in 12:11, to just trail in behind Old Xavs. Handing over to Maddie for the second leg, knowing that multiple APSOC race winner Anna Kasapis was in hot pursuit would not phase Maddie, returning to hand over to Milla in a super slick 12:14. we were 27 second behind Old Wesley and 10 seconds in front of OX, before Milla took to the course. What followed was spectacular, Milla eroding Old Wesley’s lead and establishing one for SKAAC to the tune of 27 seconds Old Wesley, with Old Xavs trailing by 58 seconds. The team was starting to believe what could be possible, with careful attention paid to “between leg” recovery and preparation to “do it all again”. Isabelle flew around the curcuit a second time in 12:07, maintaining a lead before handing to Maddie for a brilliant leg (12:42) against Old Wesley’s ace who would mount a final assault in the 5th leg. It was going to be a head-to-head race over the final leg, with nothing separating the clubs at the final change. Milla, displaying tactical nous beyond her years would run a near faultless leg (12:22) to lead the SKAAC Women to their first ever win at the Hooley. The final margin 54 seconds to Old Wesley in second and 1:49 to Old Xavs. The photo left, is the history making team, post race and with the spoils of victory.
A hallmark of the Women’s effort this year has been the passion of Olivia Mitchell. Not only an energiser for the entire club, Liv is also running out of her skin. A comparison of her running last year v’s this year at the same race…2018 (12:41/12:54) versus (13:55/14:26) a staggering improvement in 1 year!! Chloe Cornwell, recounting the 18 odd years since the last time SKAAC won a Women’s teams event, was sensational running for 2.5 hours in the morning and then again at the Hooley finishing in 14:47/15:11. Rounding out the team was another boom recruit, Camille Hudson with 13:01/13:17 showing her prowess.
The feeling at the event was brilliant, matching the weather, with students, older runners, all enjoying the concept presented by the Hooley Relay. You didn’t need to go far on the day to see another club mate either on the track or warming up or down to feel right at home.
There were some other notable performances, Jeremy Weeks running 9:46/9:55 to show just how fit he is at present. Ned O’Brien, fresh from his medal at Sandown 10:32/10:46. Coach Fab 10:14/10:32 and Thomas Scroggie 9:59/9:56, with the banter before the line between Fab & Thomas a highlight as their teams changed at the same time!!
Rising star Luca DiConza ran brilliantly to record 9:48/9:52, along with Harry Bowen 10:30/10:16.
Josh Collins, a really important member of the SKC team ran his first run since a trip to Greece ran 10:05/10:01.
Out star decathlete Dan Bailey also faced the starter, stopping the clock at 11:43/11:58.
Great to see Samuel Scroggie out there too, following a frustrating summer with injury running 12:44/13:03, similar for Angus Down following an arm injury 12:07/12:11. Year 9 student Ryan Marcina ran fantastically well across his two legs as well for a 11:10/11:31 return. Lincoln Mah, who ran the Gold Coast Marathon recently in PB time, ran 12:59/11:54, the last leg important as he guided Milla home in her finish to the line in the Women’s race.
JD Lynch is a SKAAC legend and it is always great to see him out racing at his normal high standard. An 11:38/11:58 day shows how well he backed up from Sandown the week before.
Our fearless winter Captains Mioni (12:58/12:37) and Doble (13:06/13:24) also let their feet do the talking, despite organising us all brilliantly on the day. SKC student Seamus Taylor 14:27/14/28 would impress many with his consistency and finishing burst to the line.
It’s never happened before, but it’s getting close. And I’ll back the Cornwell’s to get it done. That is, to race an entire APSOC race as a family. Gabe/John/Charlie would all make up a team with Jack Bowen and finish in front of nearly a dozen clubs. With mum Chloe running, you could say it was “nearly” done, but come on James, how about a comeback 🙂
In a day that will be remembered for many years, for many reasons, it is hard to not go past the fantastic environment created for athletes of all ages, genders and abilities to “get out there and have some fun”. A truly great SKAAC day.
Thanks to all who made it possible, parents driving athletes to Wantirna, volunteers to record team sheets and team managers to get the teams together, for without you, the memories we all have would not have eventuated.