Above: Senior Girls winner Kirstie Rae (733) leads her school teammates and the field in her race last Saturday / Image: Michael Dawson / michaeldawson.nz
Runner-up last year, Wellington East Girls’ College’s Kirstie Rae put the hammer down over the second half of the race to comfortably win this year’s New Zealand Secondary Schools Senior Girls Cross Country race in Timaru this past weekend.
Kirstie finished the two-lap, 4km course in 14.35 min, well ahead of second placed finisher Charli Miller from St Peter’s School, Cambridge in 15.14 min and with Olivia Cummings from Otumoetai College coming home third in 15.21 min.
Kirstie was quietly confident of doing well, but acknowledged the quality of the field and trust in her disrupted build-up in managing a slight hip injury as reasons to stay calm and focussed on the start line.
“Leading into the race I was quite nervous, because it was the last race for my school and I have done the NZSS race for four out of the five years, but I was just looking at giving it everything for my school once last time in cross country,” said Kirstie.
She won her race in a field of 113 starters in the Senior Girls field (from a total of 808 representing 136 schools in all races), in fine, cool conditions on a mostly firm, fast course.
“The start was about 400m of flat grass and then went into some rolling hills and there were a couple of hurdles in there as well. So for the first lap I just wanted to stay controlled and relaxed.
“Charli Miller went out hard and she was a bit ahead of me and then with a lap to go I started accelerating and getting a bit of a gap on her and ended up extending my lead to the end.”
Kirstie gave WEGC the edge to win both the three and six person teams. Baradene College was second and St Peter’s School third in the three team and Diocesan School second and St Cuthbert’s third in the six person team.
Kirstie’s WEGC teammates in the Senior Girls race were Maali Kyle Ford (12th), Saskia Cosgrove Drayton (15th), Amy Walker (20th), Caitlyn Bassett (34th), Grace Gordon (79th) and Katie McGivern (103rd).
WEGC’s Maia Wilkinson finished second in the Junior Girls race, behind winner Hannah Prosser from Timaru Girls’ High School, with school teammate Mackenzie Morgan (10th), Anna Bassett (26th) giving them a second placed finish in the three-person team.
The school also finished third in the three-person team in the year 9 race, with Eliza Squire (4th), Phoebe Squire (16th) and Amelia Newman (66th) bringing them home.
“It was really awesome being there with my school team and watching the year 9s in their first NZSS race and being able give them tips and encouragement as well, “ said Kirstie.
What is coming up for Kirstie? “In the first week of the school holidays we have got the North Island Cross Country Championships in Taupo, and the New Zealand Cross Country Championships in early August in Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt. That is the same location as where the College Sport Wellington Championships were held recently.”
Then there is the Australian Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships to look forward to in Wollongong on 24 August.
“I will be racing in the U20 race, which a 6km, and I have heard it was quite a flat course so it should be a very fast race.”
Kirstie got her first taste of competing in a 6km cross country against the best athletes in the world earlier this year at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Denmark – finishing 17th.
“It was an experience like no other, really amazing. On the start line we were lined up next to Kenya.
“It was three 2km loops and the course was really interesting with a lot of spectator points and a beer tent that we ran under with people drinking beer. We ran through a water pit, a mud pit and there was soft sand that made it tough. A part of the course was run on the grass roof of the Moesgaard Museum and we ran up and down that.”
Unsurprisingly, the Africans went straight to the front, but the pace was only moderate early on giving Kirstie time to settle. “I was in the chasing pack, with an Australian and a few Japanese. I think the Africans ended up filling the top 13 places, then it was two Japanese, and Australian and then myself.”
As well as the senior team, Kirstie was part of a junior New Zealand Women’s team that included Hutt Valley High School’s Phoebe McKnight (34th), former Wellington East NZSS track champion Tessa Hunt (88th), St Cuthbert's College’s Isabella Richardson (93rd) and Te Kuiti High School’s Samantha Corbett (99th).
Prior to heading to Denmark, Kirstie ended the recent track and field season in top form, winning the Senior Girls 3000m in a new record time of 9.38.69 and breaking the 12-year record by 15 seconds at the Wellington Regional Championships.
“I only just started doing the 3000m at the beginning of last season. It is all relatively new to me but I do like that distance. I also like the 1500m too.”
This year’s NZSS Track and Field Championships are at Newtown Park in Wellington, just up the road from school.
“It will be exciting having that on my home track and it will be good having all my family and friends watching. It is always an interesting meet as it is still early in the athletics season, but it will be by last race for Wellington East so hopefully we can pull out something good.”
Following that, she is looking at earning a running scholarship to a USA university next year.
Kirstie’s coach is Alistair Leslie, while Wellington Sports Medicine also provide an invaluable assistance to her running career.
Her parents are also really supportive, and Kirstie thanked her mum for cooking her pre-race pasta on Friday night this past weekend.
2019 NZSS Cross Country full individual results: https://nzssaa.org.nz/static/nz-xc-2019/results/results.pdf
“I can’t do everything, but I try to,” enthuses Kapiti College’s Louis Northcott on his busy sporting life.
Louis is a leading player and fullback for the Kapiti College First XV currently playing in the Wellington Premiership, and a top performer in both track and field in the athletics arena. He also plays cricket for his school’s First XI in the summer when he is not running, throwing and jumping his way to medals.
Part of a rugby playing family, Louis’ younger brother (year 12) Ted plays prop and his older brother Stanley has left school now and plays lock for the Paremata-Plimmerton club and made his Premier club rugby debut this past weekend.
This is both Louis’ and Ted’s second year in the Kapiti College First XV.
After going through the grading rounds – and beating Upper Hutt College 33-31 in a thriller in the last qualifying match, Kapiti College have so far had defeats to St Pat’s Town (18-62), Aotea College (7-43) and Scots College (5-41).
But the recent loss to Scots who are widely considered amongst the title favourites this year was encouraging. “We were happy with the way we played against Scots because was held them to 5-12 at halftime, the result just got away on us a bit at the end.”
Kapiti now have two consecutive home games coming up, against Wellington College and Rongotai College.
The captain is fellow year 13 student centre Taine Hata. “It is Taine’s third year in the First XV, and he always does a good job and motivates the boys and convinces us that we deserve to be in the Premiership.”
This was borne out in that last grading win against Upper Hutt College. “We were leading and then in the last 10 minutes or so we were pinned inside our 22 and it was a huge defensive effort and it really just showed us how much we wanted to be in that top grade this year.”
Kapiti College is fielding a young team, particularly in the forwards where one of the props is year 10 and half the rest of the pack are year 11s.
Playing fullback, Louis also wears the same jersey of another former Kapiti College First XV player, Christian Cullen.
Known as the Paekakariki Express, Cullen scored 46 tries in 58 Tests for the All Blacks between 1996-2002 and was College Sport Wellington Rugby Player of the Year in 1993.
“Christian Cullen grew up in Paekakariki, where I am also from, so he has always been someone to look up to. I have met him a couple of times as well.”
Louis had been doing athletics since he was 10, starting through his dad. “I have always loved it and it probably becoming my more preferred sport, but I love rugby and athletics equally.
Louis is a combined events athlete, having competed in two decathlons so far.
In February, he finished third overall (winning three events) in the New Zealand U20 Decathlon Championships.
Coming from a running and discus background, Louis says he has had to learn all the other disciplines such as pole vault and javelin. “That’s all been a great experience learning to do all that and getting points in those events too.”
In early April in Tauranga, Louis won the North Island Secondary School Senior Boys 400m title, while the Wellington team he was part of won the 4x400m relay.
“The 400m is the event that I train for the hardest. A lot of people say that 400m training is what most decathletes should do so it just happens to work in well.
“I was really stoked with winning that. That was one of my proudest achievements so far, all the training that went into it and I had never won an individual North Island title before.”
Louis was also second in the Senior Boys Long Jump and Pole Vault and third in the Senior Boys Discus, and also part of Wellington’s 4x100m relay team that won silver.
The 4x100m team also included Kapiti College’s Jordan Stewart, who won the Senior Boys 100m as a year 12.
For now, louis’ sole focus is rugby. “Then after that, I will get into athletics training and look forward to the New Zealand Secondary Schools meet, which is being held in Wellington in early December.”
This will be his first NZSS Track and Field Championships appearance as well.
He will also look to keep playing cricket for for the Premier 2 cricket Kapiti College First XI. Unsurprisingly he is all-rounder.
This year’s College Sport Wellington Regional Cross Country Boys U19 winner Will Anthony has plenty left in this tank.
The year 11 Scots College runner in his first season as a senior shot to the front of last Wednesday’s 6km race and won by 36 seconds to the second placed finisher, Finn Seeds of Hutt International Boys’ School and with Thomas Strawbridge of St Pat’s Silverstream just behind in third.
“I was hoping to win, but I didn’t think it would be by that much,” said Will. “I was pretty surprised with the margin of victory.”
The race at Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt was a three-lap 2km undulating course.
“A few people sat on my shoulder for the first lap and then at the start of the second lap I started pulling a lead and then by the end of the second lap I was quite a way clear.”
There were 40 runners in the Senior Boys race, with Jack Paine (fifth) and Callum Hancock (seventh) two other Scots College runners that finished in the top 10. Scots won the three-person teams race, with Wellington College second and also taking the six-person teams honours.
Despite moving up from the Intermediate ranks for the first time, Will was familiar with some of his rivals. “I raced against Thomas Strawbridge a few times earlier this year and against him at the University Relays [harriers event, for the Olympic club] a few weeks back and I have run against Finn Seeds for a number of years as he is just one school year older.”
Will and Finn also train together, both under the guidance of coach Alastair Leslie.
One of Will’s next major goals is attending the NZSS Cross Country Championships in Timaru on 15-16 June.
“I will be aiming for top five, and then hopefully to be picked for the Australian Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships in August.”
Will finished fifth in the Junior Boys race last year in Taupo.
He also has a promising career on the track in the summer months, with his main event being 3000m and also running 1500m. His PBs for both are 4.06 minutes and 8.46 minutes respectively.
He did both events at the recent Wellington Regionals and North Island Secondary School Championships events in the Intermediate grade. “Unfortunately I was a bit sick, I managed to win the 3000m and 1500m at Regionals and then at the North Islands I came third in the 3000m and second in the 1500m.
He also went to the New Zealand Track and Field Nationals in Christchurch, coming second in the 1500m and mid-field in the 3000m, competing in the U18 grade.
He is looking forward to the chance of competing at home at Newtown Park at this December’s NZSS Track and Field Championships.
Will started running when he was eight and his family are supportive. “My granddad also used to do some longer races and marathons so I got some of it from him.”
What about other sports? “I used to play rugby but stopped two years ago to focus on my running. I used to play other sports too like water polo.”
Has Will managed to catch up with new student and sprinter Eddie Osei Nketia?
“I have met him at school but I don’t train a lot with school so I haven’t trained with him or anything.”
Will trains six times a week, consisting of three long runs and three interval sessions and Sunday mornings the gym with his coach.
A favourite place for Will to running is the Port Hills in Christchurch, when he goes there to see his family.
Click here for the Results – 2019 CSW Secondary School Cross Country Champs
The Southland Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships at Te Anau last week were almost a Taylor-made benefit.
Te Anau is a visitor’s town. The lake and mountain backdrop is spectacular in every direction you look. But not often seen by visitors is the quiet beauty of Ivon Wilson Park.
However championship day the Park had visitors by the score and it wasn’t quite so quiet with visitors not stopping to take in the spectacular autumn tones, scenic central lake and views from the top of hill. In fact, most were having difficult taking in enough oxygen.
Ups and downs, changing terrain from firm to soft and upsets in rhythm is the essence of cross country. Ivan Wilson Park certainly obliged.
This year the course was changed rendering all previous records to the history books, consequently 2019 winners automatically became course record holders.
The Taylor day started with Maddie (Southland Girls’ High School) finishing second to Bella Jubb (James Hargest College) in the U13 girls 3km.
Then it was cousin Kennedy (also SGHS) comfortably winning the U14 girls 3km from Wakitipu High School’s Samantha Fookes. Fooke’s got the better of Taylor over track middle distance during the summer but throw in a few hills and an extra kilometre or two and it’s a different story. The pair were locked together over the first 1000m but Taylor attacked the hills to drop her opponent and stretch the lead to 37 seconds at the finish. An indication of Taylor’s dominance was her 11.08 was faster than the U4 boys and U16 girls.
The final race of the day was the senior boys 5km featuring the third member of the Taylor family, this time Jaxon, (Southland Boys’ High School), Kennedy’s brother. The older Taylor was second last year and not to be outdone by little sister, improved one place to the gold medal position in 17.10 from Aleks Cheifetz with Alek’s Wakatipu HS team mate Gareth Harcombe third.
Jaxon is better known as a triathlete, with the Ivon Wilson course kind to multi eventers. Well performed triathletes Aaron Barclay, Troy McAllister and Fynn Thompson were previous senior winners.
And as a matter of interest another Taylor, Christina (no relation) holds the U16 and senior girl’s records from 2008 and 2009.
Three Taylors, all related, three medals.
But that’s not all.
James McLeay (SBHS) impressed winning the U13 boys 3km by nearly half a minute. Patrick Howes (SBHS) had a narrow 3 second win from Ethan Friend (St Peter’s Gore) in the U14 boys 3km. Emily Hay (Hargest) won the U16 3kgirls by 32 seconds from last year’s winner Sophie Shallard (St Peters Gore). Sam McDonald (SBHS) won the U16 boys 4k by 11 seconds from Brennan Rhodes (Hargest). And the senior girls 4km was won convincingly by Summer Jubb (Hargest) in 19.06.
U13 Girls winner Bella Jubb and Senior Girls winner Summer Jubb were the second set of siblings to win races on the day.
Southland Secondary Schools Cross Country Results HERE
The 46th New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships and the 4th New Zealand Secondary Schools Regional Cross Country Relay Championships are at Ashbury Park, Timaru on the weekend of 15/16 June. Timaru has twice hosted this Event before, but it is over 30 years since the 15th Championships in 1988.
A greater focus when competing and the strong support of family and coaches is paying dividends for Christchurch Girls’ High School’s NZSS shot put champion Jaidyn Busch.
“A lot of the time I compete I get nervous and don’t really warm-up properly but in both the South Islands and then in Australia I thought to just give it my all and not care about what others do,” explains Jaidyn.
“I have been supported a lot by both my coach and my family - both physically and mentally – to help calm my nerves and focus more when I am competing.”
The two recent meets she is referring to above are the South Island Secondary School (SISS) Track and Field Championships and the Australian Athletics Championships, where she recently had two record breaking wins to end the athletics season.
The first was in Nelson where she not only won the SISS Senior Girls Shot Put title, she broke the meet record and set a personal best. At the SISS championships she threw the 3.00kg shot put 16.21m.
The second event was last week at Olympic Park in Sydney where she was crowned Australian U20 Women’s Shot Put champion.
Moving up to the senior 4.00kg weight, she threw a new personal best of 14.38m – throwing that with her first throw and also throwing over 14.13m with her second throw. Her previous PB with the heavier weight was 13.42m, so a huge improvement.
“I didn’t know who I was up against and didn’t expect a place – I just went over to Australia with the mindset that this will be a great experience and to just give it my best," Jaidyn says.
Her coaches in Canterbury are Amanda Murphy, who is also a former Canterbury and Black Ferns rugby player, and Dale Stevenson who is also senior male star Tom Walsh’s coach.
Neither of her coaches were in Australia with her last week when she won the national U20 title, but she was quick to tell them the good news. “They couldn’t get time off work to attend but I was on the phone calling them straight away as soon as I threw!”
Jaidyn’s father is a big supporter. “He always comes to my events and takes me everywhere and he has always supported be and motivated me since I was younger.”
Shot put is her sole focus, although she wants to start hammer next year as well.
Now that the athletics season is over, what is coming up for Jaidyn?
“I have got two weeks off right now, but I am going to start winter training and also resume playing rugby. I love rugby, that is my other favourite sport.”
Jaidyn plays No. 8 for the Christchurch Girls’ High School rugby team and for Christchurch club side High School Old Boys. She says that training for both sports has many similarities so, assuming she doesn’t get injured playing rugby, the benefits are mutual.
She is from Hinds in Ashburton, but lives with her step-grandparents in Christchurch and attends Girls’ High.
Prior to her recent SISS and Australian successes, Jaidyn was busy competing in the several athletics meets around New Zealand this season, including the New Zealand Track and Field Championships and the Big Shot event in Canterbury earlier this year.
At the NZ Track and Field Championships held in Christchurch from 8-10 March, Jaidyn finished fourth overall in the Senior Women’s Shot Put and second in the U20 Women’s Shot Put, behind winner Kaia Tupu-South of Westlake Girls’ High School.
At the end of the year in Wellington Jaidyn will be defending her New Zealand Secondary School’s Senior Girls Shot Put title, which she won in Dunedin last year by throwing 16.00m in a big effort at the end of a hard-fought competition.
“It is my last year at school and I really want to smash it out there. I want to improve my PB but I also just want to enjoy my last NZSS event.”
She will have strong competition in Wellington in December, such as from her friend Amania Mafi from Upper Hutt College and recent winner of the NISS Senior Girls Shot Put, Kaia Tupu-South, who is just year 12, and Canterbury squad member Tapenisa Havea from St Andrew’s College who is also a hurdler and sprinter.
In December 2017, Jaidyn finished second at the NZSS Championships in Hastings behind Lynfield College’s Madison Wesche, who set a new meet record of 17.03m with her first throw.
Also on Jaidyn’s radar is the 2020 World Youth Olympics in Kenya maybe the Commonwealth and Olympic Games one day. But for now, she is taking a well-earned short break before climbing into off-season athletics training and rugby and studying for her NCEA Level 3 exams at the end of the school year.
Kennedy Taylor leading eventual winner Samantha Fookes in the U14 Girls 1,500m. Both Samantha and Kennedy went under the 1,500m record. PHOTO: Southland Secondary School Sport.
Back in 2006 Christina Taylor set an U14 Girls 3000m record in the Southland Secondary School Track and Field Championships. Christina went on to capture every other grade championship record in the U15, U16 and Senior grades. Along the way she also collected New Zealand championship and NZSS medals on the road, track 3000m and steeplechase.
Given her background, it is not surprising the U14 record survived 13 years. Until this year.
What was surprising was the margin by which the record was broken at last Friday’s Southland school championships – nearly half a minute. To be precise, 28 seconds was taken off a record originally set by someone who went on the win national championships and represent New Zealand.
And the new record holder? Another Taylor, this one 13 year old Kennedy.
While no relation Kennedy attends the same school (Southland Girls’ High School) and has the same coach as her namesake.
The diminitive, slight 13 year old is a small version of the energiser battery, always on the go. As well as setting running records she was in the Basketball Southland U15 development squad, a touch player, swimmer, competitive cyclist and triathlon champion.
While lopping 28 seconds off the secondary schools record, running a fraction over 11 mins, Kennedy has run faster, with a 10.49 late last year to her name.
She will be competing in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Triathlon Championships in New Plymouth next Friday and Saturday during Summer Tournament Week. Last year she won the U13 girls section at the national championships.
Her older brothers (Jaxon and Josh) are also prominent in athletics and triathlons.
There is no doubt the remaining Southland Secondary School 3000m records will be held by a Taylor. But which one? Will it simply be a matter of the records keeper changing the initials? Time will tell.
Another leading performer at the recent South Island Track and Field Championships in Invercargill was Samantha Fookes from Wakatipu High School.
Fookes broke the U14 Girls 800m and 1500m records .The old 800m record was 2.26.53 and Fookes ran 2.20.54, and the old 1500m record was 5.08.67 (set 19 years ago) and her new record time was 5.02.17.
Of note, the U14 Boys 800m, 1500m and 3000m races were all won by the same athlete – Ethan Friend from St Peter’s College, Gore.
Another Wakatipu High School athlete, Hayato Yoneto broke the Senior Boys 100m record (10.97s) and looked like he could have broken the 200m but slowed down (winning time 23.49) to conserve energy for the Wakatipu HS 4 x 400m relay team that broke a 20-year old record. The record had been 3.41.81 and they ran 3.36.20.
Southland Girls’ High School’s Dannika Collins-Wilmshur won the Senior Girls 100m in 13.10s and the Senior Girls 200m in 26.74s (+3.7 wind).
Many of the leading athletes will now head to Saxton Oval, Nelson from 29-31 March for the SISS Athletics Championships, ahead of the NZSS Championships in Wellington at the start of December.
For full results go HERE
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