New Zealand’s five representatives at the recent Youth Olympic Games in Argentina are expected to provide the highlights at the New Zealand secondary schools athletic championships to be held at the Caledonian Ground in Dunedin over the weekend.
Connor Bell of Westlake set a New Zealand under 17 and 18 as well as a schools record of 65.63m in winning the senior boys 1.5kg discus throw title at last year’s championship in Hastings. In October in Buenos Aires he won the Youth Olympics gold medal extending his national under 18 record to 66.84m and has since improved the record out to 69.23m in Hamilton two weeks ago. His nearest rival is Nikolas Kini of Whangarei who threw a personal best of 54.84m at the recent Dick Quax memorial meeting at Pakuranga. Kini, on current form, is the favourite for the shot put and hammer throw titles.
Hannah O’Connor of Sacred Heart Girls’ New Plymouth will contest four events the 1500m, 3000m, 2000m steeplechase and the 4km road race. At the Youth Olympics O’Connor ran a personal best 3000m of 9:25.29. Two years ago O’Connor won three junior titles, the 1500m, 3000m and 4km road, but last year she won just one medal a third in the senior 3000m. Competition for O’Connor will come from Rebecca Baker junior 1500m winner last year, Charli Miller junior 3000m and steeplechase winner in Hastings, Tillie Hollyer, Kirstie Rae, Aimee Ferguson and Liliana Braun, senior 3000m and steeplechase winner last year.
Murdoch McIntyre of Westlake who set a New Zealand under 17 2000m steeplechase record of 5:55.07 in Argentina should win the steeplechase and he will also be defending his 6km road title.
Kayla Goodwin of Sacred Heart Girls’ Hamilton is down to compete in the 100m hurdles, javelin throw, triple jump and long jump. Goodwin will be defending her triple jump title. Hinewai Knowles will challenge in the hurdles, Lisa Putt in the long jump and Jessica Senior in the javelin.
Dominic Overend of Auckland Grammar should dominate the senior sprints. In Argentina he ran a personal best 200m of 21.44 and in March in Sydney set a New Zealand under 17 100m record of 10.75. Last year Overend won the junior 100min 10.83. Chasing a medal in the 100m and 200m will be Jacob Stockwell, Isaac Oliver, Flynn Murdoch and Cody Wilson and in the 100m Alex Dawson and in the 200m Matteus Pio.
Michael Graham is the favourite for the 400m, Liam Back will contest the 800m, steeplechase and road race, Joseph Sinclair is in the 800m and road race, Samuel Tanner and Benjamin Wall are in the 1500m, Tanner also down for the 3000m and Wall the road race and Andres Hernandez the 3000m and road race.
Leah Belfield will contest the 100m and 200m. Last year she was third in the 200m. Tayla Brunger, Charlotte Holland and Emma Osborne will battle out the 400m. Lucy Hegan will be all out to add the senior girls 800m title to the junior title she won last year.
Alice Ritchie will be defending her 2000m race walk title while Alex Brown will be up against Lucas Martin, Ryan Jones and Bradyn Popow in his defence of the 3000m race walk title.
Olly Parkinson 110m hurdles champion last year will line up against Daniel Parkes and will be facing Parkes and Pio in the 300m hurdles. In the field events Jayden Gozdz will feature in the javelin throw, Josh Inger in the high jump, Edward Hsing in the pole vault and Sam Colyer in the long and triple jumps. Colyer won the junior titles last year achieving a record of 13.58m in the triple jump.
Tara McNally and Alessandra Macdonald are down to contest the 300m hurdles, Josephine Reeves with a season’s best of 1.80m will defend her high jump title, Imogen Ayris second last year will be looking to go one better in the pole vault, as will Jaidyn Busch who was second in the shot put last year. Kaia Tupu-South should achieve a medal in the shot put and the discus throw. The hammer throw will be a three way contest between Savannah Scheen, Teagan Ashley and Maria Naime.
William Stedman T36 of Middleton Grange School will contest the Para/Athlete 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump. At the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro Stedman won the bronze medal in the 400m and 800m.
Just over 1300 entries from 210 schools have been received along with teams from the Cook Islands and Niue. The largest field is 101 runners entered in the senior boys 6km road race.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent