Above: Nick Smith taking out the senior boys 100m at the NZ Sec Schools Champs. Photo by Temposhot.
Nick Smith pulled off an eye-catching sprint double in the senior boys 100m and 200m and Lucy Sheat achieved the same feat in the women’s equivalent as the pair provided two of the high spots on an exhilarating final day of action at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Track, Field and Road Race Championships.
Smith may have had his path to victory eased following the withdrawal of the fastest qualifier from the semi-finals James Guthrie-Croft (St Peters). Nonetheless, the diminutive 17-year-old would still have taken all the beating slicing 0.13 from his lifetime best to record 10.71 in the 100m taking gold by a massive margin 0.31 from Yasheek Rosario (St Patricks College).
The Hutt Valley High student then followed this up by winning the 200m in similarly dominant fashion recording 21.91 – within 0.01 of his lifetime best – ahead of Harry Symes (Wanganui Collegiate) 22.40.
“Without James there, it definitely took the pressure off,” says Smith of his wonderful sprint double. “But I knew I would run well. Last year I picked up a strained hamstring one week ahead of the New Zealand Secondary Schools and it hampered my season but I’ve got over the injury and started a proper weights programme over the winter.”
Sheat was similarly impressive as the 2016 World Junior 100m representative ran out a comfortable winner in both finals. The Marlborough College student triumphed in the senior girls 100m final in 11.89 – 0.16 clear of Georgia Hulls (Havelock North) and Jade Henley-Smith of St Paul’s Collegiate (12.25).
It was the same 1-2-3 in the 200m as the long striding Sheat stopped the clock in 23.97 – just 0.06 off the 14-year-old championship best held by April Brough.
“I’m absolutely stoked,” said Sheat of her championship performance. “I had a month’s break after World Juniors and because the weather hasn’t been that great, it has made life difficult, so I wasn’t too sure where I stood. I didn’t perform as I wanted at World Juniors, but it was a real eye opener for me just being over there was a great learning experience.”
The indefatigable Hannah O’Connor secured a memorable triple gold at Waitakere with a crushing victory by more than 12 seconds in the junior girls’ 1500m final. The Sacred Heart Girls’ College student recorded 4:34.01 to sit alongside her victories in the 3000m final yesterday and the 4km Road Race earlier today.
Coached by Karen Gilhum-Green, O’Connor said: “The secondary schools champs is one of my favourite meets of the year. The 3km is my main event, so to win that yesterday was great and it was amazing to come out the next day and win the 1500m and road race.”
Oliver Miller defied running with a fibreglass cast on his arm after fracturing his scaphoid bone five weeks ago to romp to an emphatic victory in the final of the boys 300m hurdles final. The 1.94m tall St Peter’s College student has had a far from ideal preparation after picking up the injury tripping over a hurdle in a race but the Joe Hunter-coached athlete was delighted “to get the job done” recording 37.27 – within 0.36 of the championship record.