Above: Maddison Wesche will be aiming for five consecutive NZ Secondary Schools titles this week in Hastings. Photo by Michael Dawson / Temposhot.
Nick Smith and Lucy Sheat aiming to defend senior sprint titles at NZ Schools Championships
Nick Smith faces some tough opposition in the defence of his senior boys sprint double at the New Zealand secondary schools championships to be held in Hastings this Friday to Sunday.
Smith was second to Jordan Bolland in the 100m in 2015 and came back last year at Waitakere to take the double. He will face tough competition from James Guthrie-Croft, TJ Paea, Mogammad Smith, Sam Diggelmann, Nic Forster and Yasheek Rosario.
Lucy Sheat will also be defending her titles in the senior girls sprints. Sheat also won the 200m in 2015. Georgia Hulls runner up in the 100m and 200m for the last two years will be wanting to go one better this time. Hulls should have the edge in the 400m, ahead of Grace Godfrey, Izzy Neal and Samantha Hardie.
Maddison Wesche has an outstanding record at the championships in the shot put having won the junior title in 2013 and 2014 and in her final year will be going for her third straight title in the senior girls. Last year she set a schools record of 16.75m with the 3kg shot.
The highlight on Sunday will be the hotly contested senior boys 1500m. Last year Theo Quax was narrowly beaten by Matthew Manning for the title. This time there are five runners who are also in with a chance. Sam Tanner, Isaiah Priddey, Nick Moulai, George Cory-Wright and Jacob Holmes. In a recent time trial which saw nearly all of them achieve a personal best time, it was Tanner who prevailed in 3:50.05.
On current form Tanner may well also have the edge in the 3000m. Last year the 3000m was superb with Nick Moulai setting a New Zealand under 17 record of 8:16.77 and dragging a number through to personal bests. The line-up for the 3000m looks equally strong with Moulai, Tanner, Priddey, Holmes, Joseph Clark, Bradley Christison, Connor Melton, Kalani Sheridan and Murdoch McIntyre.
Josh Nairne will be looking to go one better than his second placing last year in the 800m. He has a best of 1:53.58 in finishing second in the national junior men’s 800m in March and has a current best of 1:55.67. Chasing Nairne hard for the medals will be Harrison Porritt, Max Spencer, Liam Turner, Benjamin Prince, Flynn Palmer and Jono Ansley..
Sam Montgomerie, William Sinclair and McIntyre should feature in the medals in the 2000m steeplechase.
Oliver Miller will be out to make it three years in a row in the 300m hurdles. He will be also defending his senior boys 400m title. Olly Parkinson and Matteus Pio will give Miller plenty of competition in the 300m hurdles while Parkinson should show out in the 110m hurdles from Forster. In the 400m competition will come from Michael Graham, Gouverneur and Zinan Bennett.
Matthew Aucamp second in last season’s national youth decathlon championship will be contesting the high jump, pole vault, 110m hurdles and javelin throw while Cameron Miller the youth decathlon champion is down to contest the discus throw as well as the high and long jumps.
Connor Bell is poised to add the senior boys discus throw record to the junior record of 65.00m he set last year with the 1.25kg discus. Chris Mene holds the senior record of 61.76m with the 1.5kg discus set in 1990. Bell set a New Zealand 1.5kg under 17 and 18 record of 63.93m in Australia in March and this season has thrown 61.94m.
Hannah O’Connor winner of three junior events last year, the 1500m, 3000m in a record 9:32.89 and 4km road race will be going for the senior 1500m, 3000m double. In the 1500m O’Connor will face Tessa Hunt and Harriet Bush.
In the 3000m competition will come from Tessa Webb, Liliana Braun and Samantha Burke. Webb and Braun are expected to also feature in the 2000m steeplechase. Bush is also in action in the 800m alongside defending champion Lily Trotter, Georgia Clode, Isobel Hegan, Mya Graham and Hunt.
Olivia McTaggart who equalled Eliza McCartney’s senior girls pole vault record of 4.10m last year, was over the bar this week at 4.20m and will be looking to having the record outright. Hannah Adye who has cleared 3.46m this season will give the junior girls record of 3.10m a nudge.
Alex Brown and Alice Ritchie on current form should win the 3000m race walking open titles.
Hayley Marx will contest the 300m hurdles, javelin throw, long jump, high jump and 100m hurdles while Kayla Goodwin is down for the javelin throw, triple jump, long jump and 100m hurdles.
In the hurdles Goodwin with a time of 14.37 this season, will be favoured over Tegan Duffy.
Caitlin Bonne will be defending her javelin throw title, Mellata Tatola the hammer title and Tatiana Kaumoana the discus title.
Anthony Nobilo heads out into the field and will tackle the senior boys shot put, discus and hammer throws.
Anthony Barmes, on the improve at each outing should medal in the hammer. Commonwealth youth games silver medallist in July Nick Palmer is likely to be way ahead of any other competitor in the shot put having improved his personal best to 20.08m two weeks ago.
In the jumps, Forster has an edge in the long ahead of Miller, Andrew Allan and Reuben Brown. Allan, third last year, should dominate the triple with Adam Norman, Keiran Pere and Cameron Collins not too far behind.
Tom Moloney junior champion last year is in line to step up and take the senior high jump title over Norman.
Duffy, Goodwin and Lauren Henry should battle out the senior girls long, and Lisa Putt, Goodwin, Jamie Speer, Lydia Bamford and Emma McColl are the ones to watch in the triple. Josephine Reeves on her current form will be favoured in the senior girls high jump.
Rio Para-Athlete William Stedman will compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m, shot put and long jump.
The senior boys 6km road race could be a re-run of the national under 18 road championship in September with Sam Tanner and Murdoch McIntyre battling it out again.
Amelia Persson, Samantha Burke, Grace Ritchie and Aimee Ferguson should be amongst the front runners in the senior girls 4km road race.
A total of 1314 athletes have entered from 210 schools. Entries have also been received from Cook Islands, Niue and Fiji.
The championships will be staged at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park, Percival Road, Tomoana starting at 1:00pm Friday 1 December and continuing into the weekend, finishing at 5:00pm on Sunday 3 December.
• This preview was written before the deadline for event scratchings, so some athletes mentioned in this preview may not start in all events they were originally entered in.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent