This Sunday Stromlo Forest in Canberra will host the 2019 World Cross Country trial. The event is key in the selection of the Australian team which will compete in Aarhus, Denmark in late March.
Many of Australia’s leading distance athletes, including Jack Rayner, Emily Brichacek, Andrew Buchanan, Melissa Duncan, Paige Campbell and Brett Robinson will step off the road and track to take on the undulating hills in Stromlo. Cross Country is arguably the most competitive distance event as it brings together road, middle/long distance and steeplechase athletes.
A fairly open race with Zatopek/AUS 10,000m bronze medallist Emily Brichacek having the edge on the field. Melissa Duncan is the quickest in the field (1500m PB 4:05) and has been dabbling in the longer distance with second in the City2Surf and third in the Australian Road Championships over 12km and will be a threat. Orange-based Paige Campbell has been in top form recently. In late 2018 she smashed her 3000m (9:01) and 10,000m (32.39) PBs and has good cross country pedigree as the current NSW champion. Another with XC form, is SA’s 2017 World Uni XC rep Caitlin Adams, who was second in the national XC and has been showing good track form of late with a 9:13 3000m following her eighth at Zatopek. Others in the mix: Lara Hamilton (3rd national XC), Marnie Ponton (2nd AUS Half-M), Kiah Fry (Victorian 12km XC champ) and local hope Leanne Pompeani (10th Zatopek, 2015 WXC team).
This is going to be a fascinating race. Can the XC specialists hold off the strong road and track guys? Probably the best example of a XC specialist is two-time national XC champion Andrew Buchanan, hoping to be selected for his World Cross Country debut. The quickest on the road is undoubtly Jack Rayner, while Brett Robinson takes the track crown. When Rayner and Buchanan met in the Victorian 10km XC champs Rayner held off Buchanan by just three seconds. But realistically Rayner (40th 2017 WXC) and Robinson (2017 trial winner) will be hard to beat. Sam McEntee could be a factor, fourth in the 2017 trial, he went on to finish the third best Aussie at the World XC. Queenslander Jack Bruce, with two top-25 NCAA XC finishes and a second on the track over 5000m, will definitely be competitive.
National XC medallists Riley Cocks and Ed Goddard will be outside hopes. Harry Summers is always a factor if he has a good day. In the Victorian 15km XC he was second to Collis Birmingham and comfortably ahead of Buchanan and Liam Adams. The latter is obviously stronger over the longer cross distances and on the roads. On their day, Joel Tobin-White, Louis McAfee and Brad Milosevic could be in the mix. National 10,000m record holder Ben St Lawrence has not revealed much form of late except his rejuvenated winter road and XC outings.
U20 MEN 8KM
After some selection near misses, it looks to be Jackson Sharp’s time. The highest placed eligible athlete from the 2018 national cross and a strong third in the Zatopek Under-20 3000m looks to have the Run Crew squad member primed. The remaining places look open with national Under-20 sixth placegetter Elliot Metcalf well credentialled.
In the national under-18 cross country just nine seconds separated second, third and fourth and those three Matthew Rankin, Jude Thomas and Ky Robinson have strong claims for a podium finish. You can’t discount Oli Raimond on the strength of his good track form and another to watch will be local athlete Duncan Miller who recently was eight in the Under-20 3000m at Zatopek.
U20 WOMEN 6KM
On paper, Ella Heeney, current Australian under-20 cross country champion will be a strong contender. World U20 Championships 1500m athlete, Abbey Caldwell, who has cross country form is another to watch. Her team mate
National cross country champion in 2017, Ruby White from Canberra will be in the mix. National under-18 and under-16 champions, Nikita Moore and Sarah Schiffmann will both be competitive. Others to watch will be Tasmania’s Ruby Smee, Victorian Rebecca Waters and Queensland’s Lucinda Crouch.
More information can be found here: http://athletics.com.au/Compete/Events/ArtMID/7307/ArticleID/2059333/IAAF-World-Cross-Country-Selection-Trials