Established names and recent Youth Olympians are set to fire at this weekend’s 46th New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships and 44th Road Running Championships at the Caledonian Ground in Dunedin.
The big guns to look out for will be headlined by recently minted Youth Olympics gold medallist Connor Bell (Westlake Boys’ High School), who two weeks ago extended his own New Zealand U18 discus record of 69.23m. His nearest rival is Nikolas Kini of Whangarei who threw a personal best of 54.84m at the recent Dick Quax memorial meeting at Pakuranga. Kini, on current form, is the favourite for the shot put and hammer throw titles.
Hannah O’Connor (Sacred Heart Girls’ New Plymouth) will contest four events, the 1500m, 3000m, 2000m steeplechase and the 4km road race. At the Youth Olympics O’Connor ran a personal best 3000m of 9:25.29. Two years ago O’Connor won three junior titles, the 1500m, 3000m and 4km road, but last year she won just one medal a third in the senior 3000m before pulling out of the shorter races with a minor injury. Competition for O’Connor will come from Rebecca Baker junior 1500m winner last year, Charli Miller junior 3000m and steeplechase winner in Hastings, title holder Kirstie Rae, Aimee Ferguson and Liliana Braun, senior 3000m and steeplechase winner last year.
Dominic Overend (Auckland Grammar School) should dominate the senior sprints. In Argentina he ran a personal best 200m of 21.44 and in March in Sydney set a New Zealand under 17 100m record of 10.75. Last year Overend won the junior 100m in 10.83. Chasing a medal in the 100m and 200m will be Jacob Stockwell, Isaac Oliver, Flynn Murdoch and Cody Wilson and in the 100m Alex Dawson and in the 200m Matteus Pio.
Murdoch McIntyre (Westlake Boys’ High School), who set a New Zealand under 17 2000m steeplechase record of 5:55.07 in Argentina, should win the steeplechase and he will also be defending his 6km road title.
Kayla Goodwin (Sacred Heart Girls’ Hamilton) is down to compete in the 100m hurdles, javelin throw, triple jump and long jump. Goodwin will be defending her triple jump title. Hinewai Knowles will challenge in the hurdles, Lisa Putt in the long jump and Jessica Senior in the javelin.
Additionally, William Stedman T36 of Middleton Grange School will contest the Para/Athlete 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump. At the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro Stedman won the bronze medal in the 400m and 800m.
Look out for the underdog, with upsets and out-of-the-box performances always part and parcel of one of one of the country’s biggest events of the secondary school sports calendar with approximately 1300 athletes from almost 210 schools competing, along with an international flavour with athletes from the Cook Islands and Niue.
Last year there were several such results to captivate the large crowds in the stand at Hastings, such as Central Southland College’s Dylan Forde pipping his more fancied rivals in the Senior Boys 800m final.
As always, much attention will focus on the sprint events, with strong fields in both the boys and girls sprints. Fifty four boys will line up in the heats of the senior 100m, 41 in the junior boys, 34 in the senior girls and 48 in the junior girls. Trackside on finals afternoon on Sunday will be the place to be.
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:
Girls 100 Metre Sprint Junior 11.88 1973 Myra Matkovich - Kaitaia College
Boys Long Jump Junior 6.79m 1974 Kelvin Sefton - Pukekohe High School
Boys 2000 Metre Steeplechase Open 5:52.90 1975 Geoff Shaw - Northcote College
Boys 3000 Metre Run Junior 8:32.20 1977 Dave Burridge - Kamo High School
Girls 400m Junior Carlene Dillimore Waihi College 1981 54.42
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