The country’s top athletes descend on Trusts Stadium in west Auckland this weekend for the 44th New Zealand Secondary Schools Track, Field and Road Race Championships.
The event, held over three days, will see approximately 1200 athletes from almost 200 schools competing, making it one of the biggest events on the secondary schools calendar.
As always, much attention will focus on the sprint events, with strong fields in both the boys and girls sprints.
Sixty one boys will line up in the heats of the senior 100m, with James Guthrie-Croft (St Peter’s College, Auckland), Nick Smith (Hutt Valley High School) and South Island champion Bailey Cotton (Nayland College) all amongst the 100m and 200m contenders. Defending champion Jordan Bolland (Northcote College) is out injured. Oliver Miller (St Peter’s College, Auckland) will be among the pace setters in the senior 400m.
In the junior boys sprints, Auckland Grammar School’s Dominic Overand is one to catch, recently smashing the Auckland junior boys 14 100m hurdles record, recording 13.82 (+2.0) and breaking Niven Longopoa’s 2013 record of 14.19.
In the senior girls sprints, Lucy Sheat (Marlborough Girls’ College) and Georgia Hulls (Havelock North High School) will resume their rivalry, with others such as sprinter and long jumper Briana Stephensen (Napier Girls’ High School) and last year’s junior 100m and 200m champion Leah Belfield (Te Awamutu College) expected to be hot on their heels.
Focus will also fall on Kristen School pole vaulter Oliva McTaggart on day two of three on Saturday, who has just added a further eight centimetres to her recent New Zealand U17 record with a world class clearance of 4.30m. This makes her the top 16 year old in the world this year and third in the world youth rankings. Can she jump higher this weekend?
Based on some athletes that have caught our attention this year and on the results of the respective North Island South Island Secondary Schools Championships held in April, some other athletes to look out for this weekend include:
James Coates (St Bede’s College) – discus, shot put
Ryan Sutherland (Burnside HS) – 400m, 800m
Finn Seeds (Hutt International Boys’ School) – 800m
Mikael Starzynski (Wairarapa College) – 400m, 800m
Zion Trigger-Faitele (St Pat’s, Wellington) – discus, shot put
Jono Ansley (Sacred Heart College, Auckland) – 800m, 6km road race
Ryan Ballantyne (St Paul’s Collegiate, Hamilton) - shot put
Opetini Dryden (Wanganui Collegiate) – javelin
Scott Gregory (Whangarei BHS) – shot put
Max Karamanolis (St Pat’s, Wellington) - 1500m, 3000m, 6km road race
Nic Murray (Christ’s College) – javelin, hammer
Max Press (St Pat’s, Silverstream) – 800m
Isaiah Priddey (Hamilton BHS) – 1500m
Theo Quax (MacLeans College) – 1500m, 3000m
Max Spencer (Rathkeale College) – 800m
Mitchell Small (St Andrew’s College) – 1500m, 3000m, 6km road race
James Uhlenburg (Sacred Heart College, Auckland) 1500m, 3000m 6km road race
Angus White (New Plymouth BHS) – 1500m, 3000m
Pieta Hansen (St Andrew’s College) –100m, 200m, 400m
Kalisi Longopoa (MAGS) – 80m hurdles, 100m
Charli Miller (St Peter’s, Cambridge) – 3,000m, 3km [Year 9] road race
Genna Maples (Wanganui Collegiate) – 100m, 200m
Kaia Tupu-South (Westlake GHS) – discus, shot put
Phoebe McKnight (Hutt Valley High School) – 3000m, 4km road race
Tanya Murray (Sancta Maria College) – javelin
Hannah O’Connor (Sacred Heart College, NP) – 1,500m, 3,000m, 4km road race
Anna Skerrett (Southland GHS) – shot put
Lisa Putt (St Kentigern College) – long jump, triple jump
Ashleigh Bennett (Hawera High School) – long jump, triple jump
Tegan Duffy (Villa Maria College) – 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles, long jump
Adriana Mawhinney (Dunstan High School) – high jump, triple jump
Atipa Mabonga (Central Southland College) – triple jump, long jump
Emma Ryan (James Hargest College) – shot put, discus, hammer
Madison Wesche (Lynfield College) – shot put
Tessa Webb (Feilding High School) – 3000m, 4000m road race,
NZSS Athletics Championships at a glance:
What: 2016 New Zealand Secondary Schools Track, Field and Road Race Championships
When: 2-4 December (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Where: Trusts Stadium, Waitakere, Auckland
Schedule of events: View the meet schedule here: http://nzssaa.org.nz/static/nz-tf-2016/programme.pdf
Last year’s results: View last year’s results here: http://www.collegesportmedia.co.nz/athleticsxc/just-the-medalists-please-nz-schools-track-and-field-results-listed
Overall records: View the meet records here: http://nzssaa.org.nz/static/record-holders.pdf
Records broken last year:
The five oldest NZSAA records date back to the 1970s, these are:
Guy Harrison almost lost his life when he was three years old. The Napier Boys’ High School student reflects on what he has been told about his near death experience.
“I had a seizure and my Mum and Dad rushed me to hospital. In the car I stopped breathing. Dad had to rush me inside and I was revived. This brain damage left me with cerebral palsy. Everyday normal stuff like walking around is tough, but I get by,” Harrison says.
This year Harrison won the Disabled Sportsman of the year award at the SBS Bank Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools sports awards. Harrison is the quickest T35 800/1500m runner in New Zealand.
The T35 category is for the most severe of cerebral palsy suffers. Harrison’s quickest time for the 800m is 2.49.64 at the Hastings athletics club in 2015 while he ran a 5:52.36 in the 1500m in Palmerston North in January. “I started running when I was nine. I have always been a competitive person so I thought it would be fun. When I started having some success I dreamed of going to the Paralympics,” he enthuses.
Unfortunately the T35 category doesn’t have the 800 or 1500m at the Olympics and sprinting is not an option so Harrison is hoping a middle distance event will be added in the very near future. He is also looking at triathlons and competed in this at the Junior Disability games. “I have had a bit of success in triathlons. My enthusiasm for the sport is growing,” he insists.
Harrison’s original sporting passion was golf. His father encouraged him to play when he was five and he has reduced his handicap to a respectable 11. He has won the Ames Games in Tauranga and in 2013 won the Junior Tiger event in the Hawke’s Bay which earned him a passage to the Nationals.
“Golf is my first love, but I really enjoy athletics too. Dad got me into golf and I play for the school and also represent Hawkes Bay,” Harrison says.
Harrison has shot a 74 and is a regular at the Napier Golf Club. He is coached in athletics by Mick Cull, a long-time stalwart, who has just retired and Laura Langley a NZ race walker has now taken over. His favourite athletes are Usain Bolt and Rory McIlroy.
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