Sally Pearson’s 2018 100m hurdles campaign got underway at the WA Athletics Stadium on Saturday night, with the dual world champion posting a time of 12.73 (1.4w) at the Jandakot Airport Track Classic in Perth.
The packed grandstand cheered Pearson to victory over West Australian Brianna Beahan who stormed home in a personal best time of 13.02 - an agonising 0.01 seconds short of the Gold Coast 2018 'A' qualifier. Beahan's time sees the 26-year-old move to equal fifth on the Australian all-time rankings list to sit alongside Glynis Nunn-Cearns' mark she set en route to the Olympic heptathlon gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Queensland's Liz Clay finished third in 13.51.
Pearson admitted that the effort was a little ‘rusty’ but was happy to get her season rolling.
“Considering, I hit like about four hurdles in that race it was pretty good,” Pearson said. “I was training, warming up really, really well so I was probably expecting a 12.5. But I smashed the first hurdle, smashed about the fifth hurdle and I don’t even know how I made it home so considering all that it was pretty good.”
“As I’ve said in the past, it doesn’t matter who l line up against, they’re always my competitors,” Pearson said. “I could actually see Brianna’s shadow in the next lane as she was running so I thought she was half a metre behind me, so I had to push … the shadow really pushed me along wherever she was.
“I’ve definitely got a lot of work to do.”
In the men’s pole vault, 20-year-old Kurtis Marschall (SA) closed the night with a bang, bagging a height of 5.78m to win the competition as well as qualify for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in March.
Marschall’s vault earned him a 5cm personal best, which now moves the Adelaide jumper to number six on the Australian all-time rankings list, past 1994 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist James Miller.
Marschall entered the competition at 5.40m, clearing it on his first attempt, before returning at 5.55m which he also got over with confidence. With his main rival, German Tobias Scherbath choosing to sit out the competition after clearing 5.45m, it was up to the reigning Australian champion to take the initiative.
Marschall’s first shot at the 5.78m barely got passed take-off, but when he returned to the top of the runway, it was a very different story as he soared above the bar into the Perth night.
“There’s a lot of fine things that can go wrong in the pole vault because you’ve got 18 steps of run up to get within five centimetres at take-off. So, there’s a lot of nitty-gritty,” he explained. “Once you’re feeling confident, and you’ve been practicing hard in the off-season and you can trust in the process and trust that your run-up will work, you can pretty much go out there and just go ape. That’s what I did tonight.
“5.78m is a good height to get,” Marschall continued. “I can now go to World Indoors and experience that for myself. It’s not a huge PB, it’s only 5cm but I’m still pretty happy with it ... This is a good start.”
Jack Hale’s attempt at bagging a Commonwealth Games A qualifier in the 100m was marginally thwarted by the afternoon breeze, with the now Melbourne-based Tasmanian clocking a 2.1 wind-assisted 10.10.
Trae Williams (Qld) was second across the finish line in 10.21, with Aaron Bresland (WA) third in 10.25.
“I came out and knew I was running well,” Hale said. “I was still a bit buggered off the plane, so I think next week at the state champs I’ll be just really amped and I’ll go from there. I’m a bit bummed to go so close to a qualifier. To get the qualifier and be windy is a bit disappointing but I’ve got many more weeks to go. I’m pretty keen for the weeks ahead.”
Queensland decathlete Cedric Dubler was in action in two events at the Jandakot Airport Track Classic, starting the program with the discus before returning for the 110m hurdles later in the evening. Courtney Heinze (WA) threw 53.84 to win, with Dubler’s second round throw of 45.13m a new personal best.
“I just wanted consistent throws and that’s what I was chasing tonight,” he said, pleasantly surprised.
Dubler’s hurdles were clean, also resulting in a new personal best, with the 23-year-old hitting the line first in 13.86 (1.1w). With new marks under his belt, Dubler was left with one thought: “It’s big points,” he grinned.
“Amazing things happen when you have fresh legs and haven’t done five events the day before,” Dubler said.
Terrell McKenzie finished second in 14.19 with Wesley Salisbury third in the three-man field in 16.12.
“I just thought today was a good opportunity to run fast,” Dubler said. “TJ was in that race as well and he also got a PB but his PB is close to mine. I knew it was going to be a good race and he would push me there. I’m super stoked with the time, I didn’t expect to take that much off a PB but I can’t complain. I’m so surprised, I’ll take it.”
Naa Anang was a clear winner in the long jump with the Queenslander leaping 6.54m (2.3w) on her first of the night. Training partner Chelsea Jaensch had been set to compete but was forced out having developed respiratory issues en-route to Perth.
Sinta Wardana was next best with 6.10m (1.8w) while Allison Nankivell was third with 5.80m (1.7).
“I was really happy with it,” said Anang, who scored an A qualifier of 6.68m back in July. “You come here with high hopes and it’s nice to be on track and where you want to be for the season.”
Another highlight was Joshua Ralph’s win in the 800m in a B qualifying time of 1:46.95. The New South Welshman stormed home on the front straight to finish ahead of Brad Mathas (1:47.78) and Joseph Deng (1:47.84).
“That’s my sixth B qualifier,” Ralph said. “It’s my fastest ever season opener as well so it’s really encouraging. First race always feels pretty quick. Going into the bell it felt like I was holding on for dear life, but I had so much more left there for the last 200m. I felt strong for the last 50.”
Tasmania's Hamish Peacock took victory in the men's javelin, with his fifth throw reaching 80.28m as Perth-based thrower Luke Cann finished second with 73.92m - both Gold Coast 2018 B qualifiers. Peacock, who finished 14th at the London world championships has already surpassed the Commonwealth Games A qualifier of 80.80m ten times in the past 12 months.
Click here for the full list of results.