“We pride ourselves on being gritty. We love courses with hills because there’s lots of hilly terrain on the North Shore. The course in Christchurch had lots of hills and turns which suited us.” Joseph Clark of Westlake Boys’ High School says when reflecting on the National Secondary School cross country champions held over the weekend.
Westlake achieved the seemingly impossible when they won all six team events, a feat never achieved previously. Captain Clark explains Westlake’s simple approach.
“If we saw a Sacred Heart or New Plymouth singlet we wanted to stay with them because we knew they were the leading contenders.”
This year was one of the biggest years in terms of competition, with close to 900 entrants from all over New Zealand. Westlake sent a 33-man squad.
The Year 9 Boys six person team, consisting of Ben Ruscoe (3rd), Ettienne Piere (5th), Toby Saxby (11th), Sam Berry (15th), James Hopwood (46th) and Liam Hopwood (58th), had a dominant performance with a team score of 138, 100 points less than the second place team. Similarly in the three person event, Ruscoe, Piere and Saxby, scored an impressive 19 to win gold by 37 points.
Westlake defended their 2016 junior titles with all six runners finishing inside the top 50. Blair Hill was third, Jude Darby sixth, Arsh Kazi 16th, Max Johnson 20th, JJ Weston 24th and George Luty 47th.
In the 219 strong Senior Boys race, Westlake ran strongly with the winning six person team including four Year 11 boys, who were competing in the senior division for the first time.
The six person team of Joe Clark (6th), Murdoch McIntyre (7th), Stuart Hofmeyr (15th), David Moore (33rd), Daniel Robertson (55th) and Zach Keenan (75th) won gold with 191 points, 59 less the silver medallists. Lastly, the three person team won gold with 28 points, an incredible 39 points less the next team.
Clark’s effort was particularly brave as he missed a week of school beforehand with a throat infection.
“I felt mixed about my finish. I wanted to push for a medal, but my preparation wasn’t great.” Clark admits.
For three years Clark and Westlake have been preparing for a trip to South Africa and Kenya for observation and training.
“There are about 20 of us going, it’s cost nine thousand dollars each, but it lasts for four weeks and will be worth it. I am going to go into it with an open mind.” Clark enthuses.
Westlake’s win in the senior six man event also earned them a place at the World Secondary Schools Championships. Clark won’t be eligible, but attended with New Zealand last year.
“A lot of hard work as gone into our success. I am grateful for the opportunities.” Clark concludes.
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