Southern runner scores NZ selection

The Southland/Otago cross-country team which came second at the New Zealand Cross Country championships senior girls' relay in Hawera last weekend.

BEING selected in the New Zealand Secondary School (NZSS) cross-country team does not mean you go anywhere, although selection helps athletes go places.

Kennedy Taylor, of Southland Girls’ High School, was selected to the paper team after an outstanding performance at the NZSS cross-country champs in Hawera last weekend.

Kennedy’s sixth place in the senior girls’ field of 112, earned her the honour of selection and while the team does not compete against anyone or go anywhere, selection means athletes secure travel grants which can be used for internal or international travel to athletic competitions.

With Covid-19 restricting international opportunities, Kennedy has earmarked her grant to assist getting to the NZSS Track and Field Championships in December.

Hawera turned on true cross-country weather. Continual rain meant the surface went from wet, slippery and muddy to very wet, slippery and muddy.

Conditions, not withstanding the large field, started fast with Kennedy sitting in the first group. At halfway she was ninth but in the second half picked up the pace to work her way up to sixth and selection to the national team.

Kennedy was one of only three first-year seniors in the top eight, with the others up to five years older, including the winner, 18-year-old Hannah Gapes.

The following day, Kennedy joined Sienna Mackley, Sammy Fookes (Wakatipu High School), Emily Hay (James Hargest College) and Catherine Lund (Otago Girls’ High School) in a combined Southland/Otago team, to finish a creditable second in the senior girls’ relay.