Southland has a proud record in the triple jump at the New Zealand secondary schools track and field championships.
Last year Southland girls took the senior and junior titles, Greer Alsop the senior and Emma Hopcroft the junior.
Will the trend continue at this year's championships in Hamilton on Saturday and Sunday? Quite possibly.
Atipa Mabonga (Central Southland College) leads the junior rankings by a big margin and in fact, her best would make her a contender for a medal in the senior event.
Southland is well represented in the seniors, with Rebecca Peterson (James Hargest College) and Jade Graham (Gore High School) both are well up in the national rankings, although Graham's training has been restricted over winter by injury.
In the boys' triple jump expect to see Sean Pay (Gore High School) and Jared (James Hargest College) among the finalists. Sean is the New Zealand under-18 champion but is up against Chris Brake from Nelson who has been jumping superbly this season.
In the junior triple, Regan Wilson (Central Southland College) has the ability to win a medal. Wilson is also entered in the long jump and should be well up in that event.
Emma Hopcroft (Southland Girls' High School), last year's junior winner, is not contesting the triple jump but is a medal prospect in the long jump and the short sprints.
Last year Laura Overton (Southland Girls' High School) brought home the silver medal in the senior girls' javelin with Tori Peeters taking the gold, giving Southland the double. With Peeters having now left school, it leaves Overton the best of the field by some 7 metres.
In the junior javelin, Yvonne van Baarle (Blue Mountain College) is a young athlete who should feature and quite possibly could better her silver medal in the event from last year.
Hinewai Collins (Southland Girls' High School) peaked perfectly by breaking the Southland under-18 hammer record a week out from the championships. Her 38.42 ranks her second in the junior girls' field. In the senior boys' hammer, Ashley Craig has the ranking and form to go one better than his silver medal from the last New Zealand Track and Field Championships.
Patrick Taberner (Fiordland College) goes into the junior high jump with the best height of the entrants and if he holds his form and technique, should be vying for the title. He also has a good chance in the 100m hurdles.
Last year Jordan Rackham (Southland Boys' High School) took 22 seconds off his steeplechase personal best (PB) to take the bronze medal and run himself into the New Zealand team to the AYOF.
This year he is concentrating on the 1500m and will have to make a proportionally similar improvement to feature in the medals but has the ability, form and temperament to do it. The senior boys' 1500m final should be the race of the meeting, with all contenders ranked within a few seconds of each other.
Southland will be represented in the steeplechase by Jack Beaumont (Northern Southland College). Beaumont was fifth in the 3000m at last year's secondary schools championships, and although relatively inexperienced in the steeple, was under-18 bronze medallist at the New Zealand track and field championships last March.
Southland's best prospects in the girl's middle distance lies with Hannah Miller (Southland Girls High School) in the 1500m and Ffion Muhl (James Hargest College) in the girls' steeplechase. Miller has improved her PB just about every outing so far this season and while Muhl placed a close fourth at the secondary schools championships last year, her build up has been hampered by injury.
Jack Welsh (Southland Boys' High School) and Emma Ryan (James Hargest College) are throwers who could feature, with both showing good form thanks to the coaching guidance of Chris Knight. Welsh's best prospect is the senior boys discus and Ryan is entered in all junior girl's throwing events with shot put her strongest.
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