For many years, Napier Boys’ High School was the stronghold of New Zealand secondary school orienteering.
Napier BHS won the NZSS Orienteering Top Boys School title 14 years in a row, one of the most impressive winning streaks of any school in any sport at the national level.
Last year the sky blue of Napier was replaced by a different shade of blue when Mount Albert Grammar School captured the title for the first time.
Last weekend, MAGS successfully defended their title in style at Woodhill Forest and Glenfield College as well as picking up the Boys Premier School title.
“Last year was a big year for us,” said team captain Adam Bateman. “It was going to be the 15th year for Napier to win so it was a pleasant surprise for us to win.”
“This year the orienteering culture at our school has really grown,” added Adam. “After last year’s success we had more people wanting to join and we have really increased our numbers with the juniors especially and this is really great to see.”
“We finished with about 500 points, which was really cool as we finished 160 points ahead of the next school, Havelock North High School.”
The NZSS Orienteering Championships were run over three days, with a three-person teams relay event on Friday, a long race on Saturday and a sprint race on Sunday. Points were accrued for each school in the two individual races as well as the relay.
In Friday’s relay, the MAGS teams won the Junior Boys, Intermediate Boys races and finished first and second in the Senior Boys.
“The course for the seniors on Saturday was about 6km, a bit of a longer run through the forest than the relay. You also accrue points for your school as well as trying to do your best for your individual result. The sprint is more of an urban run, around the school, with points awarded on the same basis as Saturday’s race.”
Team manager Neill McGowan said the school’s success has been a few years in the making.
Former MAGS student and New Zealand representative Kieran Woods has been coaching the boys team since 2016, building depth, consistency and a winning culture.
As well as the boys, the MAGS girls team had a successful weekend.
“The girls finished eighth last year, so we made a goal for them to return this year and finish in the top five,” explained Neill. “They ended up finishing third. Last year they got 107 points and this year they got over 300.”
Baradene College won the Top Girls School title, winning it back after losing last year to fellow Auckland School Diocesan, and also won the Girls Premier School title.
Prior to winning the NZSS title, the MAGS boys team also won the Auckland Relays and shared the North Island regional title this year.
In April, both senior and junior boys teams represented New Zealand at the World Schools Orienteering Championships in Estonia. Both five-member teams qualified for this by winning the NZSS title last year.
“The juniors finished third and the seniors finished ninth,” said Neill.
This follows on from 2017 when the MAGS juniors represented NZ in Italy and finished fifth. That team also won the Fair Play Award in those championships.
“With the World Schools every two years, hopefully it will give the boys a good incentive to win next year and qualify for the World Schools again in 2021,” enthused Adam who is year 13.
Several of the MAGS orienteering athletes are also accomplished in cross country and athletics.
“Luke Clements is one of our intermediate boys, and he actually finished the sprint on Sunday morning and then headed down to Papakura and won the Auckland U16 Road Running Championships in the afternoon,” said Neill.
Luke won the sprint race on Sunday, while MAGS student Mitchell Cooper finished second behind winner Will Tidswell (Havelock North High School) in the Senior Boys long race. Jay McElwee was third in both the Junior Boys long and sprint races.
Orienteering athletes also compete in multisport and adventure racing. “I know many orienteers, especially at other schools, who are big in adventure racing. There is a bit of crossover between the two,” said Adam.
Five MAGS students (Adam Bateman, Mitchell Cooper, Luke Clements, Sam Taylor Sinclair and Daniel Wood) have been selected for the New Zealand Schools team to compete in Australia later this year.
This year’s NZSS Orienteering Championships were livestreamed. Watch highlights of Friday’s relay races and see links to the action on Saturday and Sunday here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b__HAngtTc0
The New Zealand Secondary School Duathlon Championships held in Invercargill this past weekend featured small but highly competitive fields and fast racing under sunny skies at Teretonga Park.
The U19 Boys race was won by James Corbett from St Peter’s School, Cambridge.
James finished ahead of second to sixth placegetters Lachie Baird (Verdon College), Max Erkes (Francis Douglas Memorial College), Laurie Watson (Mt Aspiring College), Jack Staples (St Bede’s College) and Kaleb Hayes (Waitaki Boys’ High School).
The U19 Boys race comprised a two-lap 5km run around the outside 2.6km track, followed by an 8-lap, 20.8km cycle leg around the same course and then the final transition for a two-lap 2.2km inner track run.
James said the race went really well. “ Before the start, I was really nervous as I have raced Jaxon [NZSS U19 Boys triathlon champion out of Southland Boys’ High School, didn't finish this race], Max and Lachie before and know they are strong competitors that have done really well his season and I knew it would be really tough to beat them,” he said.
How did the race pan out? “With a new coach this year I felt confident and wanted to show that. I set off fast in the first run to gain the lead. I was then passed on the bike by Lachie about half way through. I fought hard to stay near him and as I came off the bike I made sure to have a quick transition to be first out on the run. I set off at a fast pace and lucky my legs held to be able to pull away and win the race.”
James said winning this race has given him confidence ahead of the summer season of racing, after winning the NZSS U16 Triathlon last year in Nelson. “A highlight for me was winning NZSS U16 race. I was disappointed with my NZSS triathlon nationals this year, so winning the NZSS duathlon was a boost.”
James finished eighth behind winner Jaxon and with Lachie seventh and Max 10th, at the NZSS U19 triathlon race in New Plymouth in late March,
James has been training hard over winter “ I’ve recently moved coaches to Craig Kirkwood. The training has been great. I typically swim four times a week with Carl Gordon who has helped me a lot and the squad is fun. I bike four times a week and run five times.”
“Luckily being in Cambridge I'm surrounded by amazing athletes that push me and support me to be my best. At St Peter’s there are other students I can train with to keep things interesting and fun.”
James, who is year 12 at St Peter’s, spent several years living overseas, where he started triathlons.
With a New Zealand mother and an Irish dad, he was born in Singapore and did a lot of growing up in Asia. “I started off mad keen on rugby when we were living in Singapore and New Zealand the first time around. But when we left NZ for Manila in 2013 and then on to Singapore in 2015, I found it harder to keep developing in rugby.”
His love for competing in sport saw him turn to swimming and running.
“My love for running started in Manila where I had great support and encouragement from my school coaches and my friends’ parents as I found my feet. I think running is still my strength. When we moved back to Singapore in 2015, I started cycling and completed my first triathlon - on a mountain bike - and loved it.
“I did well on the local scene but decided to move to St Peter’s Cambridge as a boarder to improve and compete more. The first year was tough. Year by year, I have been gaining more experience. There are so many great triathletes in New Zealand every race is a challenge which is fantastic.”
As well as winning the U16 NZSS race in 2018, other highlights were the few ITU races he has competed in and been pleased with his performances for his age. “It certainly is another level of racing and I hope to do more of it. I’ve qualified for both Duathlon and Triathlon age group World Championships this year but not going as I really have to focus on my school work. I loved the age group World Championship experience last year in the Gold Coast.”
In the short term, there is a small break in the triathlon season and he will take this time to get a good base of training in. He will also be participating in a cycling series in the Waikato as part of a team, while he also competes in middle distance running on the athletics track.
James Corbett – last two years achievements:
NZSS National Duathlon U19 - 1st
Tri NZ Duathlon Sprint Champs - 3rd (2nd in age group U19). Qualified Duathlon World Champs
NZSS Triathlon individual U19 - 8th
NZSS National Triathlon U19 team - 1st
Suzuki Tri NZ Sprint champs 16- 19 - 8th. Qualified for age group World Champs
Devonport OTU Sprint Triathlon Oceania Championship Juniors - 24th
NZSS National Triathlon individual U16 - 1st
Suzuki Tri NZ Sprint champs 16- 19 - 12th; Qualified for age group World Champs
ITU World Champs, Gold Coast U19 - 37th
WBOP SS tri individual and team - 1st
WBOP SS Duathlon individual and team - 1st
WBOP SS cross-country -3rd
Wbop 1500m - 2nd
WBOP 3000m - 2nd
2019 NZSS Duathlon Championships – full results:
17-year-old Alpine ski racer Alice Robinson (Queenstown) has carried through her success from the northern hemisphere season to home snow,
winning the NZ National Women’s Giant Slalom Championship title at her training ground of Coronet
The New Zealand Alpine National Championships hosted by Coronet Peak, the official ski area
partner of the New Zealand Alpine Ski Team, finally got underway in Queenstown today with the
women’s Giant Slalom after heavy snowfalls and poor visibility put racing on hold yesterday
(Saturday 10 August).
Starting from bib seven, Robinson – who is now ranked 10 th in the world for women’s GS – took a
convincing 2.01s lead in run one and stretched it to 3.34s ahead of GB’s Cara Brown on run two.
“I’m really happy,” said Alice. “I knew I could have probably skied a little better in the second run but
I’m just really happy to take away the title.”
The course was set on The Hurdle run where soft snow conditions added a challenge for the racers
with the course getting bumpy and several racers, including defending champion Piera Hudson
Eliza Grigg was the second NZ racer home, finishing in eighth place overall, and Katie Crawford, third
for NZ, 22nd overall.
Whangarei Girls’ High School were thrilled to put their name on a New Zealand Secondary Schools trophy this past weekend, winning their maiden NZSS Squash Championships title in Tauranga.
Whangarei GHS were top seeds heading into the tournament, but they had to be at their best to see off the other leading schools, who included recent champions Palmerston North Girls’ High School (third), Havelock North High School and Westlake Girls’ High School.
Whangarei GHS beat Westlake Girls’ High School in their semi-final tie on Saturday and returned on Sunday to defeat Havelock North Girls’ High School in the final.
It was a team tournament that saw schools play the best of five singles games against each other per tie, with the respective seeded players facing off against each other, i.e. fifth versus fifth and first versus first.
Whangarei captain and the team’s second seed Pippa Saunders said their strength and the key to victory was in their depth of players, having strong players all the way through the squad.
“In past years we have had really strong players, but the depth dropped away a bit at the bottom, but this year we had a team full of B graders so our bottom players won all their games comfortably,” said Pippa.
“It is pretty hard to get a team full of top players, so having that consistency is the key to winning this event,”
The team ranged in age from years 9 to 13, with three year 9 players in the squad including third seed Chelsea Traill who was named in the NZ Junior Girls team after the tournament. Top seed Shea Ferguson is year 11.
Whangarei came second in 2014 and 2015 and finished fifth last year.
Pippa said there was extra expectation on the team heading into the weekend as top seeds.
“We were a bit nervous going into it, being top seeds we were almost supposed to win but we knew it was going to close as the other high ranked schools were really strong as well.”
Whangarei started the tournament with a bye, before beating 17th seeds Papamoa College 5-0, then ninth seeds Tauranga Girls’ College 4-1 before the semi-final and final wins.
“We then won our semi-final 5-0, but we knew our final as going to be really close. Chelsea was up first and we knew that she needed to win because our top player Shea had a tough game and it was going to be hard for her to win. So if Chelsea had lost it would have come down to the last player, who was actually myself.”
Chelsea won her match in three sets against Rakairoa Joyce. Next, Amy Brown won the battle of the fifth seeds 3 sets to 1 to put Whangarei up 2-0. Havelock North’s Jena Gregory beat Shea in three sets to make it 2-1 to Whangarei.
Then the number four players took to the court with the tie still very much alive. Ruby Collins kept to her game plan and won 3-1, sealing the tie for Whangarei Girls’ High School.
The dead rubber match saw Havelock North's Jasmine Roydhouse-Ross beat Pippa 3-0. “I was really relieved when Ruby won her match in four sets – I think I just celebrated a bit too early and lost my focus in my game.”
Pippa said the format of the tournament makes for plenty of excitement. “It is very tense, you are clapping after each point and it is very nerve-wracking at times.”
What happens now? ”We all play in the Northland development squad, and coach Paul Ormsby comes up from Auckland every week. We all play individually in the Northland tournaments but we come together soon for the junior nationals for Northland in individual and team events.”
Pippa said that for herself and Shea, squash is their sole sport but others in the team also play other sports, such as Chelsea who plays both cricket and hockey.
The NZSS Squash Championships attracted some 20 girls schools and 32 boys schools and was played over three days across three different squash clubs in Tauranga.
Mount Albert Grammar School defeated hometown school Tauranga Boys’ College 3-1 in the boys final.
The winning NZSS Whangarei Girls’ High School team was (seeding in brackets):
Shea Ferguson (1), Pippa Saunders (2), Chelsea Traill (3), Ruby Collins (4), Amy Brown (5), Olivia Rhodes (6), Jordyn Chapman (7). Coach: Delwyn Houlihan. Manager: Justine Collins
NZSS squash champions - last 20 years:
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