Hunter bags rare rookie hat-trick

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport -

It’s taken four years, in­clud­ing 12 months re­cov­ery from a rup­tured achilles ten­don, and a lot of self­doubt for Naomi Hunter to fi­nally achieve her maiden cross coun­try win.

Hunter’s gutsy ef­fort in the five-kilo­me­tre Stephen Baird Hand­i­cap com­pleted an un­prece­dented hat-trick of wins for Stawell Am­a­teur Ath­letic Club rook­ies in the past three weeks.

“This can’t be hap­pen­ing,” Hunter said within sight of the fin­ish af­ter with­stand­ing a late chal­lenge from run­ner-up Luke Baker, who fin­ished just eight sec­onds in ar­rears.

Naomi’s hus­band David, also on the come­back trail af­ter in­jury, was third.

“I know you’re not sup­posed to look be­hind in a race but I could see Luke com­ing and I thought, if I can sprint as hard as I can I might win this,” Naomi Hunter said.

Hunter, who has raced just 16 times, fail­ing to fin­ish twice from a pos­si­ble 44 races since 2015, missed the 2017 sea­son af­ter a sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure to re­pair her achilles. She is a mon­u­ment to per­se­ver­ance, hav­ing pre­vi­ously re­tired from team sports af­ter a knee and an­kle re­con­struc­tions.

“I have never thought about winning be­fore and can’t be­lieve that I have. I only ever think about mak­ing it to the fin­ish line,” she said.

Un­will­ing to risk stren­u­ous long-dis­tance run­ning, speed work or tread­mill to im­prove her fit­ness, Hunter has taken to the gym and cred­its that for im­prov­ing her strength and stamina, which she hopes will pre­pare her for a half marathon in Mel­bourne in Oc­to­ber.

In a sub-ju­nior one-kilo­me­tre event, Colten Kenny jumped for joy when an­nounced as the win­ner on hand­i­cap from de­ter­mined chasers Olivia Hunter and Kayla Mem­brey.

The club com­bines with the Stawell and Ararat Cross Coun­try Club this Satur­day for the eight-kilo­me­tre Lind­say Kent Me­mo­rial Hand­i­cap.

Fun run­ners are wel­come and should meet at the Pipetrack Road car park be­hind Stawell’s air­port for a 10am start.

DE­TER­MINED: Stawell. Naomi Hunter on the track at

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