Lizzie Ingham dominated the first day of the Australian WOC trials, held in conjunction with the ACT Championships weekend. While the locals competed for selection, she won by the huge margin of nearly three minutes in the sprint. It was a closer-run thing in the middle distance after she made mistakes early, but she overran Grace Crane late in the course for a 13-second win.
Her sprint margin was inflated by the fact that the two locals who might have challenged her on speed, Crane and Rachel Effeney, both crashed out of contention within the first couple of controls. That left a tight battle for the second in which Kathryn Preston ultimately prevailed, ahead of a dead-heat between Jasmine Neve and Susanne Casanova. In the middle distance, Ingham and Crane were four minutes clear, with an unexpected third going to the experienced Allison Jones, in rough and low-visibility granite terrain which claimed many victims.
The two men’s races were both decided by two seconds. In the morning, Bryan Keely led through much of the course, only to lose the lead, and the race, when he dropped 41 seconds at the apparently straightforward third-last. Matt Crane had slipped a little behind early but overhauled Lachlan Dow in the closing stages for a narrow win. Brodie Nankervis and Rob Walter, at opposite ends of the experience spectrum, tied for third.
In the afternoon, there was an unexpected win for Rob Preston, returning to form after the dramas of Easter. It was a closely fluctuating battle throughout between him and Crane, decided narrowly in favour of the Stingers runner over the last couple of controls. Dow, continuing his good weekend, completed the placings.
It was a good day for the Canberra Cockatoos, who took the team points for both senior classes in both races. They have taken over the lead in the men’s competition and have closed the gap on the Victorian Nuggets to two points in the women’s.