Thabang Mosiako and Kesa Molotsane edged out the national men's and women's champions on Saturday, charging to victory in their respective categories at the ASA Cross Country Trials at the University of Free State in Mangaung.
Mosiako, one of the country's fastest rising distance-running stars, completed the 10km senior men's contest in 29min 49sec, crossing the line six seconds clear of Precious Mashele who won the South African title last year. Another bright prospect, Kabelo Seboko, grabbed third place in 29:58.
Molotsane, meanwhile, took the 10km senior women's race in 35:29 for host province Athletics Free State, finishing 10 seconds ahead of national champion Glenrose Xaba.
The junior women's event was perhaps the most exciting battle of the day, with the top four girls covering the 6km distance within four seconds of each other.
Prudence Sekgadiso won in 20:57, while Carmie Prinsloo was credited with the same time in second place. Nicole Louw bagged third spot in 21:00 while Tyler Beling was one second further back in fourth.
In the junior men, Pakiso Mthembu earned a comfortable victory in 24:02, with Dais Malebane finishing second in 24:18.
The trials will be used to select the SA teams to the CAA Southern Region Championships in Vacoas, Mauritius and the CAA African Cross Country Championships in Chlef, Algeria next month, as well as an ASA preparation squad for the IAAF World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark next year.
'These were successful Trials. We are very happy with the times and performances that we saw. This tells us the athletes have kept their promises to top performances,' said ASA President, Aleck Skhosana.
'We congratulate them, their coaches and their respective support teams for the performances. We are confident of a strong national squad to contest the tops spots in the continent this year.'