The first leg of the 2018 Varsity Athletics series at Tuks on Friday 2 March saw some scintillating action with Rantso Mokokpane and Justine Palframan from NWU and Maties respectively stealing the show.
Palframan fresh off her 52.19sec run on 1 March at the first Athletix Grand Prix Meeting in Roodepoort (she ran 52.19sec – her fifth best time ever) on 1 March, gained maximum points for Maties when she dominated the 200m in near perfect conditions. Running a solid bend, Palframan was already in the lead as she came into the home straight and despite having raced a hard 400m a mere 24 hours earlier, held her form well to cross the line in 23.43sec to earn the Maties 1093 points. Lente Pieterse of NWUP had to settle for second with a time of 23.78sec (1057 pts) with compatriot Arianne Nel rounding out the top three (23.91sec – 1045pts).
“It was hard tonight,” said Palframan. “That 400m from last night was still in my legs, so I am really happy that I was able to hold on and take the win for my club (Maties). I am in better shape than the 23sec I ran tonight, but after last night, I am really happy with my run tonight.”
Rantso Mokopane ran a perfectly judged race in the men’s 1500m to claim line honours for NWU, breaking the tape in 3:48.67. Mokopane has a best of 3:38.83 for the metric mile, but in a largely tactical race, this was a really good performance and earned NWU 993 points. Mokopane judged his final attack well, moving into the lead just before the athletes came into the home straight and was able to hold off a game Ashley Smith of UWC (University of the Western Cape) who have developed a strong middle distance culture under the guidance of coach Glen Bentley.
Smith had to settle for second (3:49.09) but UWC would have been very satisfied as Smith earned the Cape Townians 988 pts and fourth-placed Bruce-Lynn Damos (3:51.47) bagged 958 points.
“This wasn’t easy,” said Mokopane after the win. “Ashley (Smith) has improved dramatically in the last year and I had to fight for this win. With no pace maker it means we have to do a lot more work and be more aware of the rest of the field, so this was quite challenging. But a win is a win.”
The defending Varsity Athletics champions, Tuks, hold a narrow lead over NWU after the first event, having earned 15 628 points to the 15 582 points of their arch rivals when they go into the final on 23 March, also at Tuks.
The defending champions will rely heavily on performances such as that of Taylon Bieldt who won the women’s 100m hurdles in 13.73sec to be the only athlete in the field to earn more than 1000 points (1054pts) and Themba Monareng who won the men’s 100m sprint with a time of 10.33sec. Monareng found himself in the unusual position of being chased, as opposed to doing the chasing. The Tuks student ran a PB 0f 10.18sec – albeit wind assisted – at the Gauteng North Championships on Saturday 24 February of 10.18sec behind stars Anaso Jobodwana (10.07sec) and Henricho Bruintjies (10.15sec). He will need to get used to the pressure of being the athlete with a bulls eye on his back at the Varsity Athletics though as he is the fastest man in field. This time he was triumphant, holding off his team mate Malisela Senona (10.36sec) and Chederick van Wyk (NWUP) who rounded out the top three with 10.44sec.
The full results can be found at http://varsitysportssa.com/athletics-fixtures/
The final Meet of the 2018 Varsity Athletics series takes place at Tuks on 23 March, and the hosts will have a battle royale on their hands as they look to defend their title. Only 46 points separate the two teams, with UJ (University of Johannesburg) lying third with 15 339 points. It will come down to the wire at the final.
By Manfred Seidler