The 2023 Illawarra Track Challenge was one of the most successful meets this region has witnessed.
A record number of entries with over 600 athletes taking part, a record number of heats in the open men's 100 metres, of 15 heats of 10 and a top crowd of enthusiastic, supporting people who witnessed a day of top line athletics including personal bests, national qualifying times and some on the verge of making their international experience.
Visiting athletes from Victoria and New Zealand also gave the meet that added interstate feel. Over all winner of the Bellforce Meats 60 metres State Championships, Sam Geddess visited the Gong and came away the winner in the women's state title event overall but it was Monique Quirk who took the state title from defending champion Abbie Taddeo. Geddess Victorian Collegue Ebony Lane taking overall third.
This is the first time an interstate athlete has taken the win, and encourages more visiting athletes to consider this event in future.
Geddess time, although wind assisted was a quick 7.19. Ebony Lane was not to be denied when she took out the supporting event 100 metres in a quick time of 11.4.
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The men's state title event saw all three placings going to NSW registered athletes with Australian Rep Joshua Azzopardi from Camden club running a swift 6.58 with a tail wind but won well from Jackson Rowe and Carl Coorey-Ewings in third, all men breaking the 7 seconds barrier for this quick, fast reaction 60 metres.
The supporting event over 100 metres for men was one of the highlights of the men with it hard to even make the final. Ismail Dudu Kamara ran his personal best and showed that he will be a force in the coming up state titles.
His run was 10.26 with a legal tailwind of 2.0 was impressive beating a star studded field with Joshua Azzopardi taking out second, from Christopher Ius who ran 10.37 just nudging out brilliant under 18 record holder Sebastian Sultana in 10.38.
The 100 metres overall was possibly the best all round sprint we have seen on this track with athletes virtually crossing the line together and making the State Championship 100 metres even more interesting. On times, it will certainly be the person who feels the best on the day to take out this title, as very little separates the fine lot of sprinters we now have in NSW.
Finlay McPhillips finished in third spot running a solid 4 min 18.68 just edging out Harrison McGill from Bankstown who recorded 4 min 18.87. The run was about tactics and provided some great spectator viewing wondering who was going to take the event.
The Womens Jessica Hull Mile, who was down vying for a spot in the Australian Cross country team, was won by former international Niamh Allen who was impressive in her win in a time of 4min 50.24 finishing well.
Ahead of second place-getter Sutherland member, Davina Smith in 4min 53.59 from Bankstown sports Rosy Coper in 5min 04.46.
The supporting events also had some great performances with Sydney University athlete Alyssa Lowe taking out the women's long jump with a good solid jump of 6 metres 20 and although relegated to the back pit due to hammer and javelin being conducted, this jump was very impressive.
Top local athletes was the performance of distance runner IBS Member Sammy Jones who ran a great 3km and tired to bridge the long gap between himself and eventual winner, and narrowed it down in the final 200 metres to become a very good race for Jones.
In the sprints stand out was Mitchel O'Neill Athletics Wollongong who looked great over the 100 metres recording 10.51, whilst masters athlete Lisa Quinn ran a great 100 metres recording a fine 12.78.
Ashlyn Adams also looked good in the 100 metres recording a national qualifying mark.
Lauren Percival was just edged out in the state under 20 metres 60 metres finishing in fourth overall whilst training partner, Bodie Mccluskey finished in same spot in the under 18 60 metres only to be beaten by 100th for third spot.
The track challenge was a great event and also welcomed back to athletics some of the clubs former top line athletes who caught up with many of the former athletes who witnessed a great day of athletics.
IBS thanks go to our sponsors Bing Lee, Simon Hull Tiling and Bellforce Meats, our officials and volunteers and to Dapto Little A's who assisted with officials and equipment and also to Wollongong City Little A's for equipment use.
Also to Athletics NSW who supports IBS each year with this great event.
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