Celebrating this past year in secondary school sport, a strong contingent of girls have excelled in their sports, both in individual sports and as part of teams and achieving higher honours. Below is a selection of these athletes from a wide variety of sports
Erica Fairweather (Kavanagh College)
Last year Fairweather was the youngest athlete at the Youth Olympic Games. In June she qualified for the Women’s 400m Freestyle for the 2019 FINA World Championships in South Korea at the end of July, setting a new NZ 15 Years Age Record. At the same meet she placed first in the Women’s 200m Freestyle with a time of 1:59.37 seconds, another NZ 15 Years Age Record. The youngest competitor, Fairweather came 19th overall in the 200m freestyle in South Korea, and then teamed up with Carina Doyle, Chelsey Edwards and Eve Thomas to make up the NZ 200m freestyle relay team that qualified for the Olympics next year. In August, she won gold in the Final of the same event at the 2019 FINA World Junior Championships with a new PB of 1:57.96 seconds.
Charlisse Leger-Walker (St Peter’s School, Cambridge)
A busy end to the year for the St Peter’s School Cambridge head girl. First she led her school to its defence of the NZSS Secondary Schools National title and followed that with a Secondary Schools Netball National Championship the following week. That all came after a hectic three-week schedule which saw Leger-Walker rush back from the Tall Ferns Asia Cup campaign, held in India in late September. Most recently, she was in the Tall Ferns squad for their Olympic Qualifying series in Auckland. In February she attended the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in the USA. Then it was off to Europe where St Peter’s School came fifth at the ISF World Schools Championship at Crete. Leger-Walker was named to the Tournament All-Star Team. Next stop was another World event and again Leger-Walker was selected in the Tournament Team. New Zealand won silver at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup in Mongolia. Come July it was Tall Ferns duty next for Leger-Walker as the New Zealand team headed to Japan for a pair of internationals followed by the William Jones Cup in Taiwan.
Patricia Maliepo (Southern Cross Campus)
A large contingent of schoolgirls were playing National Provincial Championship women’s rugby again this year, including Patricia Maliepo who was first five-eighth and goal-kicker for a young Auckland Storm side that reached the Farah Palmer Cup final. Maliepo played a full season for the Storm in her debut season, scoring 78 points in eight matches. The 16-year-old quickly found her feet at this level with a series of strong, mature performances. Also played a full season for her Marist club side that won the Auckland club title. Won the Most Promising Player award at the Auckland Rugby awards in October. Special mention to two players who played in the Top 4 tournament in September. Jorja Miller (Christchurch Girls’ High School) was our Player of the Tournament at the Top 4 tournament, despite being on the losing team in the final and lock Veisinia Fakalelu who scored three tries in the final for Hamilton Girls’ High School. Both players are returning to school in 2020.
Sammie Maxwell (Tauhara College)
A strong contingent of schoolgirls are excelling on two wheels - on the road, the track and off road. For this list, we have chosen Sammie Maxwell, who, as a role model for her community, was recently named the Taupo Sportswomen of the Year for 2019. The head girl of her school and the recently confirmed DUX of her school - could be excused for not being in class much this year. The New Zealand U19 cross country mountain biking champion spent several weeks travelling and competing in Europe, with success, and in August was 14th at the UCI World Junior cross country mountain biking championships in Canada.
Grace Nweke (Avondale College)
Crowned the top secondary schools player of 2019 at the NZ Netball Awards at the end of October. Started the season as a Mystics development player, playing in the Beko League for the Northern Marvels. This was soon upgraded to a fulltime contract with the Northern Mystics in April after being elevated to play for them in several ANZ Premiership Games and playing with distinction – including shooting 27 from 33 as a second half substitute on debut . International netball beckons for the 1.93m shooter, who has also competed in high jump in athletics.
Tamara Otene (Westlake Girls’ High School)
Player of the Tournament at the North Island Secondary School Volleyball tournament and a leading player in the Westlake Girls’ High School team that defended their national title in Palmerston North in April. In May, she was selected in the Senior New Zealand team (along with school teammate Kaila Ru) that played – and beat – Australia in a three-test series in Wellington. Won the College Sport Auckland Volleyball accolade earlier this month. Also in the New Zealand U23 Women's Volleyball team and runner-up in the NZSS Beach Volleyball Championships. In Westlake's Premier netball team too, finishing third at the netball nationals.
Sporting All-Rounder of the Year – Tamara Ote
Kirstie Rae (Wellington East Girls’ College)
Won the Senior Girls NZSS cross country race in Timaru in June by 40 seconds. Helped her school also win both the three and six-person teams races. Followed that up by crossing the Tasman and winning the Australian U20 Women’s Cross Country Championships race. Earlier in the year, she competed at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Denmark – finishing 17th (Africans filling the first 13 places). On the track last March, Rae won the Senior Girls 3000m in a new record time of 9.38.69 and breaking the 12-year record by 15 seconds at the Wellington Regional Championships.
Alice Robinson (Whakatipu High School)
In March, at the season ending ending senior elite ski racing [FIS Alpine] World Cup Finals in Andorra, Alice finished second in the giant slalom and on the podium with current Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffren and current world champion Petra Vlhova. She was the youngest competitor in the field. This was New Zealand’s first World Cup medal in 17 years. This followed her win in the Junior World Championships. Last month she started her new season in emphatic style – beating Shiffren and winning the World Cup season-opening giant slalom.
Phoebe Trolove (Craighead Diocesan School)
2019 U18 Single Sculls Maadi Cup champion and a member of the New Zealand women's quad that won gold at the 2019 Junior World Rowing Championships in Tokyo in August, with teammates, Southland Girls' High School's Shakira Mirfin, Bayfield High School's Eva Hofmans, and St Peter's School Cambridge’s Rebecca Leigh. Trolove won the South Island U18 single sculls title, before winning the gold medal at Maadi on Lake Karapiro with Hofmans second and Leigh third (and Mirfin winning the U17 race). Trolove also won silver in the girl’s U18 coxed quad with schoolmates Niki Clemens, Isabelle Bartlett, Emma Jarvie and Zoliekah Judd. At the start of this month, Trolove won the Aoraki Secondary Schools' female sportsperson of the year award for her achievements.
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