Comeback Teen Raines Supreme

Schoolboy athlete Raine Mackley surfaced from a three year sabbatical to stun three time club champion Nathaniel Warren in the Dooen Engineeering Handicap last Saturday, the opening event of the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club’s cross country season.

The 15-year-old Mackley led all the way and defied Warren’s efforts to run him down in the five kilometre race that meandered through the Ironbarks before climbing steadily for the last two kilometres to the finish.

“I did my best but every time I got near him he seemed to find an extra gear,” said a smiling Warren, who is always pleased when a new talent emerges offering spirited competition.

Little more than 10 metres separated the combatants when they greeted the timekeepers in a tick over 18 minutes which was impressive this early in the season on a challenging course.

Once handicaps were adjusted Mackley remained a clear winner over the ever-improving Matilda Iglesias with Vicki Tyler a promising third also after a belated return to the club.

Mackley showed outstanding potential when he ran with the SAAC in 2011-12 and was hailed as a future champion until he “disappeared” from the scene, despite attempts to lure him back.

But the club’s move from its traditional afternoon runs to early mornings, his reconnection with the club through participation in the summer track season, and his promotion to senior ranks, were all factors in his return.

The Pomonal teenager has no lofty ambitions to compete at the Stawell Gift anytime soon, though he is an untapped talent who would develop with coaching especially over long distances.

In the Sub-Junior division of the Dooen, Kayla Membrey was a clear winner from Jordan Nitschke who recorded fastest time for the 1000 metres, with the ever-consistent Alex Boan a gallant third.

The Lindsay Kent Memorial Fun Run at Stawell racecourse this Sunday is an optional run but club competition returns to the Ironbarks on Saturday, April 11 for the five kilometre Peter Barham Insurance Handicap. Phone the club on 53562493 for details.

Keith Lofthouse

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