Chris Brake's win in the senior boys' high jump, the first event of the weekend's New Zealand secondary schools athletics championships, was not a shock. The Motueka junior girls 4 x 400 metre relay team's triumph in the final event was.
Their performances and Jonas Kale's silver medal in the junior boys' 100m led the Nelson area to a collection of eight medals at Dunedin's Caledonian Ground.
Tapawera's Brake cleared every height on the first attempt through to his winning clearance of 1.94m in Saturday's high jump competition. His biggest battle was with a cool wind.
"It was quite gusty, which made for quite difficult jumping conditions," said Brake, a year 12 student. "I was lucky to get over the bar."
His first attempt clearance at 1.94m was the difference over Dilworth's Jordan Peters, who cleared the same height but had more misses. Brake almost cleared 1.97m, clipping his heel on the bar on his final attempt.
Brake went on to win a full set of medals. He won silver in the triple jump later in the day. His longest leap of 13.83m was a centimetre shy of the winning mark by Palmerston North's Liam Carr.
Brake took bronze with his 6.75m effort in yesterday's long jump, which was won by St Bede's Jesse Bryant with a meet record-equalling 7.36m.
Motueka High School coach Tony Aikenhead had low expectations for his relay team.
"We got creamed in the event last year, and one of our girls had never run a 400m before," Aikenhead said.
Still, Livia Strub put Motueka in contention with a 67-second opening leg. Irene Post put the team in the lead for good with her 64-second second leg. Georgia Teakle followed with a 67-second third leg and Amanda Fitisemanu cruised to a 64-second finale to give the team the win by five seconds over runnerup St Andrew's College in 4min 22.84sec.
"I can't believe we won the gold medal," said one of the runners.
Kale's first national sprint medal was redemption after not making the finals last year. The Nayland track star finished in 11.27sec and just behind Roncalli College's Jacob Matson, who won in 11.00sec.
"I got a really good start but I couldn't hold him off," Kale said. "Still, I'm really happy with the medal."
Nayland's other finalist was Thomas Andersen, who finished 13th in the senior boys 1500m in 4min 19.16sec.
Motueka's Fitisemanu also finished sixth in the junior women's 400m final in 60.94sec. Her team-mates Tess Haunch placed 11th in the junior girls triple jump with 10.26m, Morgan Clark took 13th in the senior girls triple jump with 10.07m, and Kirsten Walker was 12th in the junior girls 1500m final in 5min 09.08sec. In the junior boys javelin Motueka's Ari Cumming finished 10th with 35.14m and Culainn Stringer was 11th with 35.11m.
Rosie Taylor-Richmond, of Golden Bay High School, finished equal eighth in the junior girls' high jump with 1.50m, ninth in the triple jump with 10.30m, and 10th in the long jump with 4.98m.
Nelson College's Mike Lowe and Cam Murdoch contended for senior medals into the final homestretch, with Lowe finishing fourth in the 3000m in 8min 49.47sec and Murdoch taking fifth in the 1500m in 4min 4.22sec.
Josh Barry placed 12th in the 1500m in 4min 16.91sec.
Sam MacKay sliced 17 seconds off his personal best in running 9min 31.90sec in the junior boys' 3000m. Jamie Shaw took fifth place in the boys open 3000m racewalk with 16min 10.79sec.
Jess Martin and Pip Dalley, of Nelson College for Girls, ran personal bests in their senior girls' middle distance events.
Martin finished fifth in the 1500m in 4min 44.66sec, and Dalley was eighth in the 3000m in 10min 28.90sec.
Jeff Lautenslager, of Garin College, equalled Dalley's placing in the senior boys 3000m with his time of 9min 22.83sec. His brother, Jared, a year 9 student, improved his 1500m best by 10 seconds at the weekend and finished 12th in the junior boys 1500m final in 4min 29.26sec.
Waimea College's Sami Jordan rebounded from a non-qualifying effort in Saturday's junior girls 1500m to place ninth in the 4km road race in 16min 0sec.
- The Nelson Mail