Members of the two medal-winning Byron Bay relay teams with coach Heather Farquhar.
Members of the two medal-winning Byron Bay relay teams with coach Heather Farquhar.

Relay teams in the medals

Byron Bay Public School’s girls relay teams both scored medals at last week’s State Athletics Championships held at Homebush, but their success did not come without anguish.

 In what seemed like Groundhog Day for the school’s supporters at the event, both the senior and junior girls 4 x 100m relay teams were disqualified for baton change violations after having won their respective heats impressively.

For both teams, elation rapidly turned to despair as the prospect of their returning to Byron Bay without getting the opportunity to show the rest of the state what they could do became likely.

The path to the State Championships at Homebush is a long and competitive one, involving a series of qualifying carnivals, and both teams had worked hard under coach and mentor Heather Farquhar for some months to finally win spots on the North Coast team to compete in Sydney.

 To travel all that way only to be sent packing after having won their opening heats (after around one minute of competition) would have been the girls’ worst nightmare.

Over an hour and several protests later, the North Coast team manager, Tracey Barnes, was able to report that both teams’ protests had been eventually upheld and that they would be able to progress to the semi-finals of their competitions.

Just to continue the Groundhog Day theme, both teams thrilled their supporters by running brilliantly in their semi-finals, not only winning but producing the best qualifying times in both of their competitions. The scene was set for two nerve-tingling finals to be run late in the day.

In the junior girls final the Byron Bay team came up against tough opposition which included Newport Public (anchored by State 100m champion Kristie Edwards), Collaroy Plateau Public and the well-drilled Lilli Pilli (East Sydney) team.

 Byron’s first three runners (Zoe Reeve, Misty Davis and Salem Edwards) all ran strong legs, giving the team a chance of a medal at the final change. Tiare Farquhar, the Byron team anchor, nearly grabbed the silver medal at the death when, through a blistering run, she pulled back the Lilli Pilli runner’s huge lead, only to discover, on the photo finish, that the East Sydney girl had held on by two hundredths of a second. Still, third place is a great result at this level of competition.

The Byron Bay senior girls also faced a tough final field including North Curl Curl Public and Kiama. With powerful foundation runs provide by starter Sian Houston and second runner Nambi Branton, the third and fourth runners, Indya Williams and Ally Reeve, flew home and were able to streak away from their opposition to provide Byron Bay with a first in the State result.

While the performances of both junior and senior teams were amazing in itself, the added spice of the early disqualifications, hearings and reinstatements meant the athletes truly had a day to remember.

 Both teams owe a huge thanks to team coaches Heather Farquhar and Nicole Page and team manager Tracey Barnes for their Homebush success.

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