Napier Girls’ High School’s Briana Stephenson recently won three gold medals at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships. At the end of this month she’ll be trialling for the New Zealand Secondary School Netball team. She also plays touch and has previously played for her school’s Senior A volleyball team.
Currently, Briana, from Central Hawke’s Bay and a boarder at Napier Girls’ High School, is in the midst of a busy stretch that will see her competing and playing in such places as Dunedin, Tahiti, Palmerston North, Perth, Hamilton and Auckland in the space of a month.
Last week she won three events at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships, this weekend she’s playing touch for her school at a central zone tournament and over Easter she’ll be playing in a National Maori netball tournament with the central zone Ikaroa ki te Tonga U19 team.
Then it’s up to Auckland at the end of the month to trial for the New Zealand Secondary School Netball team, along with 23 other hopefuls including Napier Girls’ teammate Jaydi Taylor-Chaffey. “That’s a great opportunity for Jaydi and I,” said Briana, “we both got cut off at the stage before this last year.” Briana plays in the midcourt and Jaydi in defence. Both have just started Year 12.
Last year Napier Girls’ qualified from the central region for the NZSS netball nationals, before finishing 13th of 16 teams at the nationals in Ashburton. “We could have made top eight, but we didn’t have the greatest tournament with some of our main players getting injured.”
If selected, Briana and Jaydi would join the NZSS netball team for the International School Girls Competition in Auckland from 2-6 May.
Most recently, it’s athletics where Briana has made her mark.
Last week at the Junior Australian Athletics Championships at a sizzling Perth, she produced two hot wins in the U18 high jump and long jump events.
She jumped a personal best time of 1.75m to win the U18 high jump, whilst she won the U18 long jump in a thrilling finish.
“I was coming about sixth in the long jump until my very last jump, but on my last attempt I jumped 5.98m to win it. The girl that came second [from Victoria] jumped 5.95m.”
She also won bronze in the U18 100m, behind winner Georgia Hulls of Havelock North High School and then ran the second leg in winning gold in the U20 Women’s 4 x 100 relays, with team mates Georgia, Brooke Somerfield from Tauranga Girls’ College and Natasha Eady from King’s College, Auckland.
The winning New Zealand relay team ran a 46.15 time, beating New South Wales and Western Australia teams into second and third place.
The previous week Briana had finished second in the women’s U20 long jump, second in the women’s U18 100m and third in the women’s U18 high jump at the NZ Athletics Nationals in Dunedin.
Her next meet is in Tahiti after the NZSS netball trials, from 7-9 April, the Oceania Junior Championships.
Where does she get her talent from? “Dad was always good at athletics and pretty fast and Mum was good at netball so was the jumper.”
Two netballers she looks up to are Casey Kopua and Kayla Cullen. “They are both really good netballers with good attitudes and are hard workers.”
As well as sporting endeavours, Briana takes her schoolwork seriously. She has just started Year 12 but has been in an accelerant class meaning she’s also doing three NCEA Level 3 subjects this year.
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