Southland’s young athletes outstanding

Southland Girls' High School athlete Kennedy Taylor (navy with red striped top) leads the way in the 4km road race at the New Zealand Secondary School Athletics Association track, field and road race championships held in Tauranga at the weekend.

WHO was Southland’s ‘athlete of the meet’ at the New Zealand Secondary School Athletics Association championships last weekend in Tauranga?

Was it Quinn Hartley, breaking the Southland senior high jump record? Or Trent Hogg breaking his own Southland shot put record? Or Kennedy Taylor who dominated her endurance races and came away with three medals?

Quinn, the junior high jump winner last year, broke Gideon Barnard’s Southland record by 1cm with a clearance of 2.08m on the way to winning the silver medal. Winner Jayden Williamson equalled the long-standing meet record with 2.11m. As a matter of interest, Quinn’s height would have won every competition during the past six years.

The James Hargest College (JHC) pupil also won bronze in the long jump with 6.77m, just 3cm behind silver.

Trent Hogg has made a habit of breaking Southland records, with five in the past few weeks.

Now it is six, with the Southland Boys’ High School (SBHS) 17-year-old’s silver medal-winning shotput throw of 16.75m. The is a new M17 Southland record, demolishing his own record of 16.55m.

Chris Knight, who coaches both Quinn and Trent, said the results showed how hard work paid off not fault the work ethic of both athletes.

Kennedy Taylor started the champs with a very hard-fought silver in the junior girls 3000m.

Hard-fought would be an understatement, as the 15-year-old Southland Girls’ High School pupil battled all the way with Mt Maunganui’s Lulu Johnson with the pair side by side up the front straight.

Lulu edged ahead at the line, winning by just half a second.

Third was 12 seconds further back and the two posted times faster than the winning senior race, showing how dominant they were.

But that was just the entree.

On Sunday morning, Kennedy ran away with the 4k road race, winning by 23 seconds. Then later in the day she lined up for the 2000m steeplechase, a novice event for her.

Not that you would think so, considering the way she dominated the race, opening up a big gap early on and winning by more than 100m.

Her time of 7min 11.36sec was the fourth best W18 time this year and the fastest by a 15-year-old.

However, these were not the only southern medalists. Sammy Fookes, of Wakatipu High School, was brilliant in the junior 800m, winning her heat and semi-dominating the final in 2:15.23sec, a win by nearly 2 seconds. Her tactic was simply catch me if you can could.

Teagan Ashley, of Aparima, took the bronze medal in the senior hammer.

Sixty-nine started out in the junior boys 100m with it whittled down through the heats, quarters and semis to the top eight finalists. William Robertson was one of them. The JHC student’s aim was to make the semis. He did better, winning the bronze medal.

James McLeay (SBHS) took the silver in the Year 9 road race over 3k, getting pipped in a frantic sprint finish. He followed this up with a fourth in the junior steeplechase, an event he is still learning.

While missing out on the medals, Bernice Cullen, (Northern Southland College), in the senior long jump, Jack Stalker (Central Southland College) in the senior 100 and 200m and Rico Fisher (SBHS) in the junior discus all stood out. As did all the Southland athletes.

So who was Southland’s athlete of the meet? Too hard to pick, but the choice of every athlete to represent their school with a championship attitude would be hard to argue against.

These championships have made the Secondary School Sports Awards later this year very interesting difficult.Sports brands30 Teddy Bear Coat Outfits to Brave the Cold in Style