World Youth Champion Lily O’sullivan broke through for a maiden Summer of Surf victory yesterday at the Murphy Homes Maroochy classic, timing her run to perfection and hitting the lead in the shade of the finishing arch to win a sprint finish over Lana Rogers and Georgia Miller.
It was Miller vs Rogers for the opening Ski and Swim legs with the rest of the field forced to chase almost from the gun; in the closing stages of the board Rogers looked like she had done enough to claim the 7000 points on offer before mother nature had different plans. O’sullivan found a small runner late, which she timed to perfection to beat the former Australian Champion up the beach, with Miller holding on for third.
The Burleigh teen admitted it was a breakthrough win,
“I’ve had so many people tell me I am just as good as all of those girls, and that I just have to believe it myself and today I think I proved to myself that I really can do it.”
But she credited Miller and Rogers for being her inspiration, “I’ve just learnt so much from racing these experienced open girls from such a young age, and its finally starting to pay off for me.”
The result will push O’sullivan from 8th on the pointscore into the top 4 but she’s not thinking about the overall title.
“With next weekend at the Shannon, there is so much room to make up points and it’ll be exciting to see what will happen but honestly I am just trying to do my best in every individual iron and treat each one like a fresh start.”
While in the men’s event Cooper Williams finally fulfilled his potential and claimed a maiden Murphy Homes Maroochy Classic Iron title five years after finishing runner up to Shannon Eckstien in 2018 as a junior. That result turned heads while yesterday’s performance will have William’s rivals looking over their shoulder at the part time Ironman and full time chippy.
Williams swim leg gave him a small lead heading into the final board leg ,ahead of a pack of 13 led by 5x world champion Matt Bevilacqua. The Alex athlete refused to relinquish the lead and beat Bevilacqua at his own game by finding multiple runners to the beach and holding off a 6 way sprint for the minor places.
“It’s good to get my first open iron win on somewhat of my home beach, its special,” he said.
He also said he was running scared in the final leg, “with bevy chasing you’re never confident, he’s just so good, so until I got to the beach I wasn’t sure of it”
“its good to get a win on the board too, im now at about 1%” he joked.
Northcliffe duo Zach Morris and Matt Bevilacqua snuck onto the podium ahead of a fast charging World Champion Cory Taylor.
In the individual events Danielle McKenzie made it a dominant double claiming the ski and board races in a result that’ll catapult her up both the pointscore and the MVP standings but the current Australian Ski Race champion thinks she may have left her run a little too late,
“I’m not looking at the MVP point score as I didn’t capitalise at the Alex round, I was focusing on Surf Ski Racing at the time and left a few too many points on the table and put me out of the running” she said.
But the Northcliffe veteran is refusing to give in just yet.
“Honestly, I’m just enjoying doing all the races and hoping I can win them all.”
Defending MVP Champ Naomi Scott and Maroochy turned Kurrawa Kayaker Brianna Massie rounded out the podium on the Ski while it was a sister act with Tiarnee Massie and defending Board Series Champion Hannah Scully finishing second and third on the board.
In the men’s Ski Race, Kurrawa’s Jackson Collins went head to head with Alexandra Headland’s Golden boys Jamo Porter and Jett Kenny early in the race before breaking away with Porter and winning a tight sprint up the beach that Collins didn’t think he’d win.
“I am almost 100% certain Jamo is a better runner than me, so I knew I had to get to the beach before he did, he said.
Porter’s result shoots him into contention for the overall ski title while Kiwi Tom Scott flew home late to take the final step on the podium.
Back to Back for Bevy
Northcliffe’s Matt Bevilacqua made it back to back board race wins at the Murphy Homes Maroochydore Classic after beating home young guns Tex Dixon (Surfers Paradise) and Zach Morris (Northcliffe). It was also enough to move Bevilacqua into second on the overall standings behind his teammate Morris but he’s not focusing on the big picture just yet.
“It’s a long summer and a long series, we have a lot of racing over these weeks and I’m just taking it race by race, we’ve still got the big ones to come.
Pallister Perfection, while Sam doesn’t come up short
Four times World Swimming Champion Lani Pallister continued her perfect run in the Summer of Surf winning her 3rd Surf Race from 3 starts. Pallister did it the hard way swimming all the way to the beach and despite being the red-hot favourite every time she toes the line she gave credit to Naomi Scott and Lily O’Sullivan who finished on the podium.
“By no means is it and easy feat to come down here and beat these girls, they’re all incredible athletes in their own right, she said”
And Pallisters respect for her rivals has grown in recent weeks.
“I think ive got a lot more respect since throwing myself in the iron the last few weeks, and the fitness they have as athletes is just beyond incredible.
In the men’s Surf race It was another swimming sensation and local boy Sam Short who snuck away from the field and didn’t look back; the Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist said he was just looking for a clean run,
“I know I have the quickest pool PB, so I was just looking for clean water and then to let her rip,” he said.
Fellow Australian swim team members Bailey Armstrong and Hayden Cotter (Manly) took the minor places
Shot’s Fired ahead of the Shannon Eckstien Iron Classic.
Northcliffe stamped it’s authority on the 6 person mixed Taplin relay finishing 1st and 3rd in a dominant display, with the home club Maroochydore finishing runner up for their best ever performance in the event.
A Bailey Armstrong bodywave in the swim broke the powerhouse club away from the field and they didn’t look back to claim their second 6 person win of the summer and move them into the lead of the overall pointscore.
Northcliffe have now won 3 of the last 4 times this event has been raced and look like the undeniable favourite heading into back to back events on their home stretch of sand in a fortnights time.
The final 2 rounds of the Summer of Surf will be held on February 10th & 11th on Northcliffe Beach.
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