Cross Country – Ballam Park

The 16 K Cross Country venue was shifted from Brimbank Park to Ballam Park in Frankston this year. Box Hill had a limited representation in the senior races with five senior female athletes and seven senior male athletes starting in their respective races and with all finishing.


Whilst Lisa Jane Weightman and Susie Michelsson were overtaking early leader Kate Seibold-Crosbie to place first and second respectively, Rachel Johnson ran solidly to place 18th in the time of 15 m.30 just under two minutes behind the winner. Amanda Harper was the next Box Hill finisher, recording 16 minutes 18 for 32nd place. Megan Sloane, battling with a cold, in 43rd place recorded the time of 16 m. 54. Inge Maher placed approximately 80th, running 19 minutes 25 for the journey followed in shortly after by Gemma Duhig, who was in approximately 84th place in 19 m. 58.


The men’s 16 K Cross Country was held over four 4 K loops of an undulating course without any severe rises, though some of the hills were testing. Nick Harrison (GH) and Grant Schmidlechner (Don.) broke clear of the field which was smaller than usual. By the end of the first lap, Dave Ruschena (GH) had forced his way up to the leaders and took over the running from the pack of three. These three athletes traded positions for the next one and a half laps when Schmidlechner fell off the lead leaving Harrison and Ruschena to fight it out.

Harrison put in a withering surge to drop Ruschena and opened up a very decisive break to record the time of 51 m. 33 in very benign conditions. Ruschena was second in 51:59 with Schmidlechner third in 52 m. 40.

Behind them, Andrew White was placed 11th at the end of the first lap in a small group of runners from other clubs, with Chris O’Connor, starting very conservatively, but increasing his tempo being 35th. Just behind him was David Jimenez, 39th with Graeme Olden, recovering from a cold, 41st. John Vaitkunas was holding 85th place. David Ayers was in around 144th place with Adam Pepper further back in the field.

Andrew White (56:49) slowly drifted back a small number of places in the next three laps to be the top placed Box Hill runner coming in 16th place, in one of his best performances for some time. Chris O’Connor, 29th (59:37) managed to hold off David Jimenez, 31st the whole way (60:12). Graeme Olden surrendered a small number of places in the concluding laps to finish 45th (61:57), winning a tussle with another athlete in the finishing straight. John Vaitkunas lifted his position to 69th (63:55) and Davis Ayers also sprinted past another competitor in the finishing straight to place 128th (69:14). Adam Pepper recorded the time of 72 minutes 52 seconds.

It appears that Box Hill finished in 5th position (317 points) in the teams race behind Glen Huntly (45), Geelong (121), Melbourne University (206) and Keilor St Bernards (267).