Updated: April 21, 2015

Tuks and Pukke athletes celebrate after sharing the Varsity Athletics trophy

North-West University (Pukke) dominated the second and final leg of the Varsity Athletics series in Stellenbosch on Monday night, closing the gap on defending champions University of Pretoria (Tuks).
Pukke and Tuks shared the overall spoils, finishing in joint first position in the standings with 239 points.
“We’re very happy. Our team worked very hard and everyone made a contribution,” said Pukke women’s captain Bianca Erwee.
Wayde van Niekerk of Kovsies, who secured victory in the men’s 400m race in 46.08 seconds, received the Victor Ludorum as the top men’s performer at the meeting, and Tuks’ Anneri Ebersohn, who held off a late charge from Maties’ Jean-Mare Senekal to win the women’s 400m hurdles in 59.28, was awarded the Victrix Ludorum.
“I couldn’t have asked for better support out here this weekend,” said Van Niekerk, who won the national senior one-lap title in 44.91 at Coetzenburg on Saturday.
“It pushed me through to do what I needed to do.”
Ebersohn credited Senekal for putting up a strong fight as she edged her out by 0.04 in her specialist event, after both athletes dipped on the line.
“It was a tough race. Jean-Mare almost beat me at the end and I’m lucky to have got the win. It’s been a great evening,” Ebersohn said.
Senekal went on to win the 100m hurdles race in 14.09, while Maties speedster Justine Palframan proved her versatility by winning the women’s flat 100m dash in 11.75 ahead of Pukke’s Melissa Hewitt.
“It was always a possibility (that I could win),” said Palframan, the SA 200m and 400m champion.
“I just knew I needed to start fast because if I can keep up with them at the beginning my finish is usually strong.”
Former 800m world champion Caster Semenya played a key role in Pukke’s charge, after Tuks had taken the series lead at the opening leg of the series in Potchefstroom.
Semenya won her top-flight debut over 3 000m, fighting back down the home straight after losing ground on the final lap, clocking 9:49.85 as the first four women finished within two seconds of each other in a tight contest.
The 24-year-old middle-distance specialist went on to create an early lead in the mixed medley relay as Pukke bagged a dominant victory.
“The coach told me just to hang in there with the girls, then do what I do best over the last 100m (in the 3 000m race),” Semenya said.
“We have been doing a bit of mileage (in training) so we didn’t have a lot of concern coming here. We knew what we were doing and we delivered.”
Producing perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, Tuks’ Duwayne Boer won the men’s long jump with a best leap of 7.28m to stun Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai.
Koketso Mogapi, representing Pukke, took second place (7.21m) and Samaai, who looked out of sorts after winning the national title with a massive 8.38m effort at the weekend, settled for third place (7.03m).
National 100m champion Akani Simbine of Tuks grabbed the men’s 200m victory in 21.00, winning by nearly half a second, and Pukke’s Ruan Murray set a new Varsity Athletics record in the discus throw with a 56.42m heave.