ARARAT - Sarah Blizzard has produced her best result of the Victorian Athletic League season and will take plenty of confidence into Stawell next week.
Blizzard made the 100-metre women's final at the Burramine Gift meeting in Yarrawonga last Saturday, finishing in second place by 0.2 seconds.
Coach Marcus Cooper said Blizzard had experienced a tiring 12 months which has included a trip to Canada to participate in the 'Travel Track and Field Canada Tour 2012', competition at the All-Schools championships, Victorian states titles and all before the start of the 2012/13 VAL season started.
"Sarah has trained her backside off since May last year, she has virtually been training 12 months without a break," he said.
"To be coming up at this time of year is just a bonus, I thought her season was pretty much done.
"She had a real big dip in January and February. She was injured, she wasn't running well, it was hard work for her. I said to her then and there you've got to go through those dips and when you come back up really embrace and enjoy the good times.
"Well we couldn't take the smile off her face for the whole weekend, it was good to see Sarah bubbly and happy again."
Cooper said despite not getting the best of starts, Blizzard powered through to the final stages of the 100-metre event to finish in the placings.
The talented athlete also competed in the 300-metre women's and veterans' event finishing fourth in the heats.
Her stable mate Ruby Klemm also continued her run of form making it through to the final of the 300-metre race, where she placed fifth.
"Ruby ran a really strong heat to get through to the final," Cooper said.
"It was a gutsy run because she got boxed in and then got out and really went hard. The girl who beat her in the heat won the final as well."
Cooper also looks poised to feature in Stawell after the veteran once again made it through to the semi finals of the 120-metre Gift.
Running against 2008 Stawell Gift winner, Sam Jamieson in the heats, Cooper held his own finishing a close second to progress through to the semi.
"He got on to me early but I actually matched him for the last 60 metres of the race, so my speed is fine, I am fast, I just can't get the start right at the moment with this niggling injury," Cooper said.
"My start is still a bit sluggish with my Achilles, the first 20 is really slow, but once I get going I am as quick as anyone at the moment. I am really happy with my speed."
Cooper improved his time from the heat to the semi and said it is probably the fastest he has run all year.
Brody Taylor also made his return to competitive running following a stint on the sidelines with injury.
Taylor competed in the 70-metre sprint finishing fourth in his heat and the 100-metre novice where he placed third in heat two.
I wish I could start the way Brody is at the moment, he is starting so well," Cooper said.
"His first half of his race is promising, we've just got to get him strong now so he can finish them off. He just hasn't been able to do the training because of injury so he isn't fit to finish the races off."
The local stable will head to Braybrook tomorrow in Maribyrnong for a last minute tune up before next week's big Easter carnival.
"I don't normally like running the weekend before Stawell, but I figured there are a few guys coming into some good form so we may as well keep racing," Cooper said.
"This weekend will be interesting to see how the mindset is the week before Stawell, there might be a few that will hold back just a little."
Cooper said Jacqueline Scott will compete at Maribyrnong following a well earned break before taking part in her first Stawell campaign.
Tiffany Boatman is also likely to race this weekend along with Blizzard, Klemm, Cooper and Taylor.