St Patrick's College athletes have sprinted away with the coveted McEvedy Shield, snatching the prestigious schoolboys' athletics competition late in the day from defender Wellington College.
"For a school our size it's an incredible feat really," St Pat's coach Leigh Lidstone said yesterday. "We've taken on a school twice our size and won."
For most of the day, the shield was within the grasp of both schools. Defending champions Wellington, with 1500 pupils, were strong in the field while St Pat's Town, with 700, dominated on the track through sprint ace and senior captain Yarride Rosario.
But as the haka and chants rang out around Wellington's Newtown Park yesterday afternoon, St Pat's grabbed the victory by 15 points in the final relays. Wellington's challenge fell flat with disqualification in two races because of baton blunders.
Lidstone said St Pat's had set the tone for the Catholic boys' 17th win with a mass in the school chapel before the competition. They were also motivated by a close loss last year, and believed they could do it after lifting the shield in 2008.
While the boys dedicated long hours in training, Lidstone said the support staff's roles were all- consuming too. "For someone like me it's all lunchtimes, Saturday mornings and two times after school each week, so it's very satisfying."
Rosario, St Pat's athletics captain and seventh-form pupil, expected to celebrate into the night.
"School is going to be a challenge tomorrow morning, but it's definitely worth it," he said. "There is nothing like this in the world, and there isn't another school I'd like to run for."
Lidstone said a special assembly was planned at the Kilbirnie school this morning.
The shield was a gift from St Pat's Town old boy Dr P F McEvedy in 1922 and up to 10 schools have competed at various times since then. Teams from St Patrick's Silverstream and Rongotai finished third and fourth yesterday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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