Hawera High School’s Ashleigh Bennett has finished her secondary school athletics career on a high.
Two years after doing the Junior Girls long jump – triple jump double at the New Zealand Secondary
Schools Track and Field Championships she has been crowned the Senior Girls long jump winner.
In a competitive field of 22 senior girls’ long jump leapers, Ashleigh’s winning jump was 5.64m. She
finished 5cm clear of second placed Tegan Duffy of Villa Maria College, with Lauren Henry of St
Peter’s School, Cambridge third.
Speaking to College Sport Media at the medal presentation, Ashleigh was beaming after her victory.
“I came here with the expectations of hoping to get a PB, but I wasn’t even close. Instead I’ve won so
I’ll happily take that instead!”
She also finished third in the Senior Girls triple jump, behind winner Atipa Mabonga of Central
Southland College and second placed Adriana Mawhinney of Dunstan High School.
Ashleigh’s win in the Senior Girls long jump was 13 years in the making.
“I was a sprinter back in the day and then when I was seven I started to get into long jump and really
enjoyed it and have been doing it competitively ever since.”
Naturally she rated this win high on her list of achievements thus far, after taking out the Junior Girls
jumping titles in Wanganui in 2014.
“Representing New Zealand at the Oceania Junior Games last year was a highlight, and I’m hoping to
eventually get to on to the bigger stages.”
Ashleigh isn’t the only athlete from Hawera High School who has struck national success. “Arnold
Fage is not here this year, he decided to take this year off, but he’s also a long and triple jumper.”
In March both Ashleigh and Arnold annexed the respective girls’ and boys’ U18 long jump-triple
jump double in the Nationals in Dunedin.
For Ashleigh, athletics is her sole sporting focus, while she knows the importance of managing her
body having the entire season back in Year 9 with a major back injury.
Who does she look up to? “My role model is Ivana Španović [Olympic long jump bronze medallist
and European champion last year]. She’s an amazing long jumper and I am trying to copy her
technique and get to where she is.”
Next year Ashleigh is staying home in south Taranaki to train with her coach, Ed Fern, who has been
her mentor for the past five years.
Over the summer she hopes to compete in all the Athletics New Zealand summer ‘Classics’ events
and then compete at the Nationals in March.
New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships Long jump winners:
Junior Boys: Roderick Solo (Scots College, Wellington)
Junior Girls: Kayla Goodwin (Sacred Heart, Hamilton)
Senior Boys: Thomas Rawstrom (Tauranga Boys’ College)
Senior Girls: Ashleigh Bennett (Hawera High School)
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