Georgia Hulls has been hitting headwinds lately.
The Havelock North High School senior girls sprinter has had three warm-up meets heading into next weekend’s NZSSAA Track and Field and Road Running Championships, based just up the road at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park. None have been favourable conditions.
“I have competed three times recently and every time it’s been a headwind,” she told College Sport Media this week. “But you can’t help it and it could be the same on the day at nationals, it is important to get out and have a run.”
Prior to that, her last serious meeting was at the Oceania Area Championships in Fiji in June.
Georgia is set to compete in her fifth and final NZSSAA Championships next weekend. She’s also competed all around New Zealand and overseas, but this will be the biggest meet on her home track, which has recently been revamped.
“I competed there in the Colgate Games in 2011, but this will be my first national meet at home in the Hawke’s Bay since then. I like competing at home, it is different, it is nice to have the local support and I have never quite appreciated how much people are interested and it’s really good to see.”
She is undecided about which events she will race in.
“I have entered the 100m, 200m and 400m and the relays and I will decide beforehand what races to do, based on entries and how I am feeling. I will do two of the three individual races. It will either be 100m-200m-relays or 100m-400m-relays.”
She is also currently the fastest 400m female runner in the country, ranked one in all age groups.
In the back of her mind is qualification for the 2018 U20 World Championships in Finland in July next year, after competing at the previous U20 World Championships in Poland in 2016, although this is not her priority next weekend. “For this meet I just want to focus on running fast and enjoying my last national schools.”
Georgia said that the chance to represent your school on the national stage and to support your school teammates in action is what makes the NZSSAA special for all the top athletes.
Of the four previous NZSSAA championships she has competed in, she said 2014 was the most memorable when, as well as winning the Junior Girls individual 100m and 200m titles, she helped Havelock North High School to second in the 4 x 100m relay and to victory in the 4 x 400m relay. “It was really nice to win the relay and to see the other girls and to see how happy they were.”
Georgia said this year there are several other Havelock North High School athletes hoping to do well, including junior 1500m runner Clara Braun and Cameron Potts’ road race team.
Plus some wider Hawke’s Bay athletes to follow, such as Karamu High School’s Nick Palmer, a nationally ranked shot-putter coached by Tom Walsh’s coach Dale Stevenson. “Definitely watch out for Nick, I think he will be throwing far and he is looking to qualify for the World U20 Championships as well.”
Briana Stephenson of Napier Girls’ High School is another, being a long jumper, a high jumper and a sprinter.
Further afield, Georgia’s main rival should be Lucy Sheat from Marlborough Girls’ College.
Both are ultra-competitive and good friends off the track. Both went to the last U20 Junior World Championships in 2016 and both are in the Athletics New Zealand Elite Relay for Tokyo Squad and both also aiming for Finland. “We have been racing together for about five years and it is really good to have each other to push ourselves for fast times.”
Last year, Lucy edged Georgia into second in the finals of both the Senior Girls 100m and 200m, while Havelock North High School finished second to St Hilda’s Collegiate in the Senior Girls 4 x 100m relay final.
Georgia said that Leah Belfield of Te Awamutu College and Anna Hayward of Craighead Diocesan School, Timaru, are two other athletes with a clean pair of heels in her peer group.
In August Georgia, and no doubt all the other leading secondary school athletes, watched the World Athletics Championships on TV. She said she likes watching Dutch sprinting star Dafne Schippers and also follows Australian Ella Nelson. “She didn’t do too great at the recent World Championships but she came ninth at the Rio Olympic Games, and I have met her and she is lovely and it’s great to see Oceania athletes doing well.”
Following the NZSSAA Championships, Georgia will be looking to compete in the summer Classic series of meetings and then in March the New Zealand Nationals and either the Australian Junior or Senior Nationals. Then if she qualifies for the Junior Worlds she will head to England for several weeks to stay with family and train and compete there.
As well as counting times, she is also looking at doing some extramural accounting papers at Massey University for the first half of 2018.
As well as athletics, Georgia also plays hockey for her school as a striker, helping Havelock North High School win the tier three Jenny Hair Cup in Winter Tournament Week and beating Horowhenua College 3-1 in the final.
She had four NCEA Level 3 exams last week - accounting, biology, chemistry and English - and has her final exam on Monday - statistics.
The 45th NZSSAA Track, Field and 43rd Road Race Championships run from Friday 1 December–Sunday 3 December at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park and the Eastern Institute of Technology in nearby Taradale respectively.
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