The 43rd New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships are this coming weekend at the Agrodome, Lower A&P Oval, Rotorua.
This is one of the biggest events on the secondary school calendar, with some 960 runners from 120 schools throughout New Zealand taking part.
A number of individual and team winners will be crowned. The races are Year Nine boys and girls 3,000m, U16 Junior girls 3,000m, U16 Junior boys 4,000m, Senior girls 4,000m, Senior boys 6,000m and the combined Junior and Senior para races of 2,000 each.
A 24-strong New Zealand Cross Country paper team (12 boys, 12 girls) will be selected afterwards, with these runners eligible to travel to Canberra in August for the 2016 Australian Secondary Schools Championships.
With some 240 runners the Senior Boys race will draw the largest field of the day, with several noted contenders expected to battle it out for 2016 title honours.
Hamilton Boys High School’s Isaiah Priddey will be all out to add the senior boys’ cross country title to the junior boys’ title he won last year. He will be up against the inform Dan Hoy from Westlake Boys. Hoy was second last year to Conal Wilson in the senior boys and last week had no trouble winning the Auckland schools title at Pukekohe.
A strong field has entered with Max Karamanolis, James Uhlenberg, Nick Moulai, Jacob Holmes, Angus White, Stefan Przychodzko, Bradley Christison, Theo Quax and Jared Lautenslager all capable of a podium finish.
Katherine Badham (Takapuna Grammar) should have a heads up in the senior girls 4000m. Triathlete Badham won the Auckland title from Maiya Christini (St Mary’s Auckland) and Georgia Clode (Baradene College) who will also be racing in Rotorua.
Others who will up with the pace from the start will be Amelia Persson (Christchurch Girls), second in the junior girls last year, Tessa Hunt, Tessa Webb, Catrin Dawson, Grace Ritchie, Alice Bird, Gina Butler, Isabella Robinson, Bridie Edwards and former junior winner Ari Graham.
Hannah O’Connor (New Plymouth Girls) should successfully defend her junior title ahead of Phoebe McKnight (Hutt Valley High School) and Liliana Braun (Cashmere High School).
The year nine girls should go to Charli Miller (St Peter’s Cambridge) from Lucy Burrell (Baradene College) and Esther Kozyniak (St Catherine’s).
Leading contenders in the junior boys race include Jaxon Taylor (Southland Boys), Murdoch McIntyre (Westlake Boys) and Ayrton Shadbolt (St Andrews).
Jude Darby (Westlake Boys) and Jamie Robertson (Kings College) should continue their rivalry in the year nine boys race.
Three and six person teams champions will also be crowned.
As well as the NZSS Cross Country Championships on Saturday, the inaugural New Zealand Schools Cross Country Relay Championships are being run on Sunday. Selected athletes in this race have the opportunity to represent their region competing in a five-person relay team in each of the year 9, junior and senior grades.
Last year’s individual race winners were:
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