Hill City-Uni claims fourth double in row

Aaron Anderson (left) and Ben Lund are neck and neck as they start the final lap of the social...
Aaron Anderson (left) and Ben Lund are neck and neck as they start the final lap of the social and mixed race of the Lovelock Relays at the University Oval in Dunedin on Saturday. Lund pulled away from his clubmate to win the race. PHOTOS: GERARD O'BRIEN/WAYNE PARSONS
For the fourth consecutive year, Hill City-University claimed the senior double at the Lovelock Relays at the University of Otago Oval on Saturday.

The event, honouring the 1500m gold medal won by Jack Lovelock at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, and held for the 83rd consecutive time, once again unearthed emerging middle-distance talent within Dunedin clubs.

A 1500m bronze medallist a the New Zealand championships earlier this year, and with a year's best of 4min 23.69sec set at the Porritt Classic in Hamilton in February, Rebekah Greene set the senior races alight with a scorching run in the 4x1500m senior women's race, clocking 4min 44sec on the firm but heavily grassed track.

The Hill City-University senior women's winning team of (from left) Rebekah Greene, Margie...
The Hill City-University senior women's winning team of (from left) Rebekah Greene, Margie Campbell, Laura Bungard and Rebecca Allnut.
Her time, although 9sec off the pace for the senior women's record she set in 2013, was still impressive given the heavily overcast conditions and for being 13sec quicker that that clocked by team-mate and Queensland Marathon champion Margie Campbell, who brought the team home to victory.

Hill City-University finished 2min 40sec clear of Caversham and Leith was third. Campbell recorded the second-fastest time of 4min 57sec.

The wining team's middle stages were also impressive, Laura Bungard and Rebecca Allnut recording third and fourth-fastest times respectively.

Bungard (17) particularly showed her tremendous sporting potential.

The holder of four national swimming titles, she stretched her team's lead and lapped the field, clocking a smart 5min 10sec.

The run from Allnut showed she is making a successful return from injury.

Although amalgamated in 2011, teams from either Hill City or University have retained the women's title for the past 12 years.

Although not a record, Saturday's time of 20min 30sec is among the fastest in recent years.

The race for the senior men's 6x1500m title was not decided until the final lap when, true to the winning style of Jack Lovelock, Sam Bremer put the hammer down over the final 300m to pull away from the threat posed by a resurgent Leith Club and secure a fourth consecutive title for Hill City-University.

The Hill City-University senior men's winning team (back, from left) of Russell Green (18), Rory...
The Hill City-University senior men's winning team (back, from left) of Russell Green (18), Rory Bevins (18), Joel Carman (19), Matthew Sutcliffe (18), (front) Kirk Madgwick (23) and Sam Bremer (23).
Despite his great effort, Bremer was unable to secure fastest time for a fifth straight year.

That honour went to Janus Stauffenberg (Leith), who clocked 4min 3sec. Bremer was second-fastest in 4min 5sec.

The race was set alight on the first leg with a titanic battle between the defending champion and Leith, which was in search of its first title since 2003.

An epic battle ensued right from the gun with nothing separating Josh Hou (Hill City-University) and Hamish McKinlay (Leith) at the first baton change.

Nathan Hill opened up a 27sec lead for Leith on the second leg, which Leith's third runner, Olivier Despartius, maintained.

However, Hill City-University proved too strong on the fourth and fifth legs as Russell Green and Matthew Sutcliffe regained the lead for their team, handing Bremer an 8sec lead at the baton change for the final leg.

Despite Stauffenberg working hard to reduce the deficit on the first two laps, Bremer had too much gas at the business end to bring his team home for a fourth consecutive title in 26min 23sec.

Leith was second in 26min 29sec, in one of the closest senior men's races in recent years.

Green (4min 13sec) and Sutcliffe (4min 14sec) clocked third and fourth-fastest times respectively.

Sutcliffe (18), who recently received a scholarship to Cambridge University to study politics, philosophy and economics, is proving just as talented athletically as he is academically.

Such is the depth in the Hill City-University ranks that its senior men's No2 team finished third in 27min 46sec.

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