Rathkeale College has fashioned a fine record in athletics recently. Sprinter Jonty Morrison represented New Zealand in 2015 and that same year broke three long-standing records at the college athletics day, the oldest of which dated back to 1973.
Middle distance runner Max Spencer and the versatile Gerard Hickey are also making a name for themselves. Both boys have been selected to compete for New Zealand at the Oceania Regional Championships in Tahiti in April.
Spencer had a history of competing in cross county and triathlon, but decided to take up track running after an encouraging display at his first National Championships.
“I was quite competitive. I finished ninth in the 1500m and was encouraged by John Quinn to continue,” Spencer recalls.
Last year Spencer won a silver medal at the National Championships in Timaru in the intermediate 1500m. He ran a personal best time but finished well-behind a formidable rival, Isaiah Priddey from Hamilton Boys’ High School.
“Priddey was the fastest runner at the whole meet. He is phenomenal and beat me by ten seconds. I am clueless as to how I will make that up, but I am working hard,” Spencer concedes (below).
Spencer is training five days a week and ran strongly at the recent Porritt Classic. He has been selected as a 5000m reserve and relay runner for Tahiti as well. Are those events possibilities to specialise in later?
“Not in the immediate future, but I am happy to run anything for New Zealand. I have been improving a lot in the 1500m and will continue to work hard.”
In 2015 Gerard Hickey was named the Wairarapa Junior Sportsman of the year. He competed in three events at the North Island secondary school championships, placing second in the junior high jump and fourth in the junior 1500m.
Hickey has been selected for the 400m, 800m, and high jump. He says he is honoured to represent his country especially after a long struggle with injury.
“I have had problems with plates in my lower back. This means I have spent more time on running this season as jumping applies more strain”.
Hickey has improved his running time by a few seconds and became strong in the 800m.
“I enjoy all disciplines, but running has been the focus lately.”
Hickey is coached by Nick Julian and John Quinn.
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