Tiger Time At Ballarat And Brooksie Seeks the Sun

Matt Grant and Leon Brooks
Matt Grant and Leon Brooks

Lake Wendouree was the venue for the Victorian Cross Country League’s competition for week thirteen of season 2019, and a windy 15km around the lake is never an easy task. The event, a combined event with Athletics Victoria, is important for all teams as points become vital for the final premiership positions. As well as being a vital part of the VCCL winning Division 3 team Matt “Tiger”Grant was a narrow but deserved winner of the club’s sealed handicap. Matt had only four seconds to spare over Irene James with a further two seconds to Alex Bacalja, six seconds over fifteen kilometres is exceptional handicapping. Ballarat was Grant’s fourth win with the VCCL but Matt has 52% of top ten finishes over his ninety three appearances with the VCCL. His previous wins have been at Westgate Park, Westerfolds Park and Jells Park. Irene James in career best form is close to another win and Alex Bacalja is improving as the season progresses. Fastest time was recorded by Oscar Robinson (48:00) and the efforts of Daniel Lawlor (49:55), Alex (50:33), David Spence (53:18) along with Matt Grant (52:47) enabled the VCCL to win their division by near 30 minutes and take the ladder lead from Mornington. Division 6 had another comfortable win led by Hunter Rubino (53:55) and increased their lead over Doncaster.

The following Saturday the club returned to the parkrun competition with race fourteen being taken out by Leon Brooks competing in Mildura. Brooksie limited by injuries early in the season found some form at Braeside recently with a seventh place and improved again in the sunny conditions at Mildura to score a twenty three second win over Irene James and David Page. Saturday’s win was Leon’s fourth with the VCCL and his third over 5km, clearly his preferred distance. Irene James, handling all courses and distances with ease, looks a definite chance at Cruden Park this Saturday and David Page is returning to his best form. The fastest time was recorded by Tony Moran (18:05) at Karkarook.

With three rounds of competition to complete the AV season, the VCCL hold a two point lead over Mornington Peninsula in Division 3 and have a huge lead over Doncaster in Division 6. Division 7, where we have struggled to field a team each week, the VCCL are currently in fourth position. The VCCL over 40’s, competing in a field of over one hundred forty teams, is racing well, currently ranked in the top forty. The Women’s division four team, struggling for numbers, has been very competitive in their two official events for the season. This week the competition returns to Cruden Park, formerly the private garden of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in Langwarrin. The event is a tough 12km over a variety of terrains.

The following Saturday is a parkrun event and then followed by Sunday (August 25th) a 6.5km VCCL club event at Fairfield Park, 10am handicap start.

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