A wide array of champions here in 2017, poll below.
Connor Bell - (Westlake Boys’ High School) - It’s almost a laughing matter how far ahead of the discus throwing competition Connor Bell is in New Zealand. The National U18 and U20 champion won the intermediate National Secondary Schools title in December 2016 by over 20-metres. The Australian Under-18 champion was a hot favourite to capture a gold medal at the Junior Commonwealth Games in July and duly delivered with a throw of over 60-metres. Bell is ranked in the top five in the world for his age group.
Lewis Clareburt (Scots College) - Clareburt has cleaned up age group swimming in 2017. In March, Clareburt broke the national age record in the 400m individual medley, previously held by Rio Olympian Bradlee Ashby, with a time of 4 minutes 21.69 seconds, and equalled Danyon Loader's near 25-year-old record in the 200m freestyle, clocking in at 1.51.70. Things got even better for Lewis in July when he won more medals than anybody else at the Junior Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas. The Year 13 won three gold and four silver medals in a hectic and outstanding display of class. There were 1034 athletics representing 64 countries. Clareburt was named College Sport Wellington Sportsman of the Year.
Matt Dell (Sacred Heart College) - Sacred Heart enjoyed another all-conquering season in water polo winning the Auckland, North Island and National titles. Dell was integral to Sacred Heart’s success. He was the stingiest goal-keeper in the Auckland league and his shot-blocking helped Sacred Heart overcome their fierce rivals Saint Kentigern College in a penalty shootout in both the Auckland and National finals. Dell was named tournament MVP at Nationals and will most likely venture to the US on scholarship in 2018.
Oscar Guo (Westlake Boys’ High School) - “I like to play an attacking style of Badminton, hit the shuttlecock close to the lines and take risks. Because I am young I have nothing to lose,” Oscar Guo told College Sport Media in February. This audacious approach has paid rich dividends for Guo who is New Zealand’s top ranked singles player. Guo won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles events at the National Under-17 and 19 championships, becoming the first player to win three National Under-17 singles titles on the trot. Additionally, Westlake won the National Secondary Schools title, sweeping Auckland Grammar School 6-0 in the final. In New Caledonia at the Oceania champs in February, Guo claimed both the singles and doubles crowns and in the former event didn’t drop a set. He was named Westlake Boys’ High School Sportsman of the Year.
Cameron Jones (Waimea College) – In February, 16-year-old Waimea College multisport athlete Cameron Jones became the youngest ever winner of the 2-day race in the 34-year history of the famous Coast-to-Coast event across the South Island. He held a 10 minute lead after day one and went on to win the individual two-day race by almost 40 minutes in 12hr 19min 5sec. Of note, the second placed finisher was 16-year-old Oliver Thompson of Trident High School. Later in the year the 2016 NZ cross country U17 Mountain Biking champion competed for NZ in the U19 race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, Australia.
Tom Parker (Christchurch Boys’ High School) - Before this year, Christchurch’s golf team hadn’t made the National tourney since 1999, but in their first appearance in nearly two decades they won the tourney trouncing local rivals and defending champions Burnside High School by eight shots. Christchurch’s efforts were spearheaded by Parker who won the individual crown, finishing three shots ahead of teammate Ben Baker. Parker fired the round of the tournament with a 66, recovering from a slow start. Christchurch also won all four of their interschool exchanges and Parker often competes overseas having travelled to China, Hong Kong and New Caledonia alone this season. In 2018, Parker will shift to the US on a golf scholarship at the University of Oregon. Oregon was second in the National championships this year and won the title in 2016, making it one of the top collegiate programs in the world.
Sam Tanner (Bethlehem College) “I knew there was going to be a heap of guys who were really fast and fit, but I was just preparing myself to push my body to its limit,” said Sam on winning this year’s NZSS Cross Country Championship win in June. “I didn’t have to quite do that, where I hit the wall, but it was a tough race.” The Waikato-Bay of Plenty champion headed a strong field of some 220 runners in the 6km, three-lap Senior Boys race, beating Hamilton Boys’ High School’s Isaiah Priddey by a second in a sprint finish and with local St Bede’s College’s Nick Moulai 10 seconds back in third. Tanner also won the National U18 cross country title and in September, he completed a trifecta of wins in 2017 by winning the National U18 Road Race title.
The Champion of Champion series is not intended to be a definitive list of the ‘best’ athletes in each code, rather it celebrates many of the leading athletes and teams in each that College Sport Media has followed this year. Preference has gone to those individuals/teams that CSM has interviewed and profiled in 2017. Got a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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