Lockett made history in the opening session of racing, becoming the first woman to make a men’s A Final at a National Championships.
No stranger to skating with her male teammates in practice, it was a different experience in a race environment when she took on Boda and four other men in the final of the 1500m.
“It was pretty cool to be the first one to do this,” Lockett said. “I didn’t expect to make the final at all. It can be a bit intimidating racing the men because they are so much bigger than me but I was happy with how I went.
“Racing the men here, is like the level I will face at the World Cups, so it was good practice for me.”
Boda took out the 1500m title in 2:32.666, closely followed by national team member Armstrong Lazenby with Zach Biggs of New Zealand taking third. Lockett was impressive to finish fourth.
The 1500m was the first of five titles for Boda, who proved his dominance in what is an increasingly talented depth of male skaters.
The 21-year-old took out the 500m in a thrilling race that saw teammate Andy Jung challenge him for the win over the final few metres with a photo-finish needed to judge the winner. Boda defended his 2013 title by just 0.019 of a second with both athletes and Nate Henry all skating under 43 seconds to prove the rise and rise of sprint skating in the Australian men’s ranks.
On the final day of racing, Boda made sure he took the clean sweep of titles, adding the 1000m, 3000m and 5000m relay to his swag.
“I’ve been working really hard over the last couple of months but everyone’s been skating really well so to come away with wins over all the distances fells great,” Boda said.
“Last year I missed the clean sweep by one race so I was happy to get it this year but more so just happy to be skating stronger and smarter and against a really good group of guys.”
New coach Barthells and his athletes will now turn their attention to the World Cup circuit with five events taking place in November and December in the USA, Canada, China, South Korea and Germany.
Lockett and Boda will be joined on tour by teammates Andy Jung, Armstrong Lazenby and Nate Henry – and Barthells holds out high hopes for them as they take their first big international steps into the next Olympiad.
“I just want to see them go out and skate their all,” said Barthells who most recently was assistant coach to the US Olympic Team.
“It all looks very promising. They’ve already made some changes since I came on a couple of months ago and I’m excited for the future of the sport here. The results will come and I’m pretty sure they’ll have some personal bests.”
The four developing young men will look to not only perform well as individuals but also form a strong bond as a relay team as they take on the best in the world in an event they hope to grow into in coming seasons.
“That’s my biggest goal – to have three spots for the men and a relay spot - for PyeongChang,” Barthells said. “They [the men] train together every day so they have that team camaraderie. They are great guys and they look out for each other and want to make each other better.”
As for Lockett, Barthells sees only the brightest of futures for the young star who is now based in the USA where she can train with other young women of her calibre.
“She’s super strong,” he said. “I’m hoping she’ll be World Champion and I’m sure she will be in the top five soon.”
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