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The Gladfield Golf Course in East Taieri, Dunedin, will host the 42nd Perpetual Guardian New Zealand Second Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships this coming Saturday.
Some 850 runners from 112 secondary schools around New Zealand have entered. Auckland Grammar School are sending a team of 60 athletes to the event, while other schools to feature prominently at the start/finish lines will be Wanganui Collegiate (boys and girls) with 37 entries, New Plymouth Boys’ High School and Westlake Boys’ High School with 36 runners each, Auckland’s King’s High School with 28 and St Patrick’s Silverstream with 23.
Seven para-athletes, from Rangiora High School, King’s High School and St Andrew’s College will also be competing.
A number of individual and team winners will be crowned. The races are year nine boys and girls 3000m, U16 junior girls 3000m, U16 junior boys 4000m, senior girls 4000m, senior boys 6000m and the combined junior and senior para races of 2000m each.
A 24-strong New Zealand cross country team will be selected afterwards, with these runners eligible to travel to Melbourne at the end of August for the 2015 Australian secondary schools championships.
With over 200 runners, the senior boys race will draw the largest field of the day, with several noted contenders expected to battle it out for 2015 title honours.
Westlake Boys’ High School’s Daniel Hoy finished runner-up last year to winner, Wanganui Collegiate’s Geordie Beamish. Hoy recently won the Auckland secondary schools cross country championships, after finishing second in the men’s sprint triathlon at the Youth Olympics in China last year and showing strong form on the track over the summer in 3000m and 1500m events.
Auckland Grammar School’s Conal Wilson finished second in last year’s Australian U18 cross country championships, while Central Southland College’s Jack Beaumont recently won the New Zealand secondary schools mountain running championships. Napier Boys’ High School’s Bradley Christison is the son of former Coast to Coast multisport winner George Christison, and last year’s junior race winner, St Andrews College’s Mitchell Small , is also entered.
Of the 128 entrants in the senior girls race, Wellington East Girls’ College’s Kelsey Forman will be a leading contender. Forman recently won the Wellington event and next week she flies out with the New Zealand team to compete in the 2000m steeplechase at the World Youth Track and Field Championships in Columbia.
St Kentigern College’s Isabella Richards returns after finishing third last year and last year’s junior winner, St Andrews College’s Ari Graham returns. Last year’s winner, Columba College’s Hanna English, injured herself playing football last weekend and won’t be able to defend her title from last year’s championships in Palmerston North.
In the team’s event, Burnside High School (Boys) and St Cuthbert's College (Girls) won both the three and six person senior team’s races in 2014.
Last year’s individual race winners were:
- Year Nine Girls: Olivia Corrin (Gisborne Girls’ High School)
- Year Nine Boys: Samuel Tanner (Bethlehem College)
- Junior Female: Ari Graham (St Andrew’s College)
- Junior Boys: Mitchell Small (St Andrew’s College)
- Senior Girls: Hanna English (Columba College)
- Senior Girls: Geordie Beamish (Wanganui Collegiate)
- Para Boys: Josh Rosie (King’s High School)
- Para Girls: Ruby Morrison (Solway College)
- - College Sport Media and Athletics NZ