Angie Petty will open her 2016 campaign at the Potts Classic meeting in Hastings on Saturday.
The four times national champion will be going for her seventh straight win in the prestigious women’s 800m. The 24 year old who has a best of 1:59.06 in winning the World University Games title in Korea last July holds the Pott’s Classic record of 2:03.72 set in 2014. Given ideal conditions at the Regional Sports Park a further Rio Olympic Games qualifying time of 2:01.00 would be an ideal start to the season.
Also starting will be the national schools champion Lucy Jacobs, Katherine Marshall third in last season’s national championships, 2012 national youth champion Ariana Harper, North Island champion Alison Andrews-Paul who ran 2:10.17 in Palmerston North last month, Jenny Hauke and Australian 15 year old Heidi Demeo who won the Australian junior U/15 title in 2:11.49.
Nick Willis starts his down under campaign with an 800m. Willis with a best of 1:45.54 will be up against Australian sub-four minute miler Craig Huffer who has run 1:47.73. Also in the field is Hamish Carson, four times New Zealand champion Brad Mathas and New Zealand secondary schools champion James Preston. Kenyan Emmanuel Biwott has entered along with 1:55.00 800m runner Jack Rayner from Melbourne.
Georgia Hulls will be up against Lucy Sheat, Zoe Hobbs, and Australian Christine Wearne who has a best of 11.71 in the 100m. Andrew Carew Australian 200m silver medallist who has a best 400m of 46.63 will feature in the 400m. The women’s 400m has a strong line-up of four times and current national champion Louise Jones, secondary schools champion Jessica Hood, Sarah Pearce, Brooke Cull and Australian Kendra Hubbard.
Jacko Gill will highlight the field events, making his first appearance this season in the shot put. The world junior record holder with a best of 20.75m with the senior shot will be aiming to nail a 20.50m qualifier for the Rio Olympic Games. National youth and secondary Schools champion and world youth championships representative 17 year old Ryan Ballantyne will be competing. In winning the schools title he was out to 19.53m with the 5kg shot.
Te Rina Keenan who is knocking on the door of achieving a discus throw qualifier for Rio will compete. Six times national senior champion Marshall Hall will also be taking part in the discus throw. Montaya Wharehinga should win the women’s hammer throw as should twice national champion Mariah Ririnui in the long jump. Competition in the men’s long jump will be close with current national champion Jordan Peters, twice national champion Matthew Wyatt and Hamish Gill all entered. Gill is also down for the 100m along with Michael Goldie, Nick Smith, Terry Collins-Hawkins and Australian Jackson Miller-Gage.
The meeting, in memory of Allan and Sylvia Potts, incorporates the New Zealand junior 3000m championships for men and women.
James Uhlenberg of Auckland who ran a personal best of 8:31.99 to win the New Zealand secondary schools title in Timaru last month will be wanting to repeat that performance in his quest to win the New Zealand junior title. The 16 year old sprang to prominence last May when in Cairns he won the Oceania 800m and 1500m titles and was runner up in the 3000m. Chasing Uhlenberg for the title will be the Canterbury pair of Cameron Avery and Sean Eustace. Avery is the national junior championships silver medallist in the 3000m steeplechase and the 5000m and at last weekend’s Lovelock Classic in Timaru ran a personal best 8:35.86.
Eustace who has a best of 8:37.82 was the 2014 youth 3000m champion and was seventh in the junior championship last year. Michael Voss of Rotorua the national junior road champion who has run 8:39.82 will be wanting to improve on his fourth placing last year. Also in the hunt for a medal will be junior steeplechase champion Jack Beaumont (8:43.61), Jared Lautenslager (8:45.45), bronze medallist in the youth and sixth in the junior last year, Isaiah Priddey with a best of 8:46.36 in winning the New Zealand secondary schools junior boys title, Christian Condor a best of 8:52.22 and ninth last year and Harry Ewing who has a string of national championships silver medals with a best of 8:53.58 and who was tenth last year in Wanganui.
Fourteen year old Hannah O’Connor from Taranaki has every chance of winning the junior women’s 3000m title. At the New Zealand secondary schools championships last month she swept all aside in winning the junior girls’ 1500m and 3000m titles. O’Connor has by far the fastest time of the 16 entered of 9:41.92 achieved in a mixed race at the Central League meeting in Masterton in October. Vying for a podium placing will be secondary schools senior champion Sophie Rees, national youth 5000m champion Emerson Deverell who was fourth last year, Deborah Paine who ran 10:10.13 on New Year’s day in Tauranga, Manawatu schools champion Tessa Webb, Phoebe McKnight who has a time of 10:03.28 to her credit, Alisha Gilchrist, third last year, Harriet Bush second in last year’s youth championship and Charlotte Blair secondary schools 1500m champion.
Meeting organiser Richard Potts is delighted with the number of entries received, well up on previous years at 170, with over 30 entered in the men’s 800m.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent