Baxter leads from front for Boys' High
The New Plymouth Boys' High School cross-country running team returned triumphant from Palmerston North on Monday.
The Boys' High team lifted the coveted Super 8 shield in a dominant display with their best ever score and a comfortable margin over their closest rivals.
NPBHS team captain Matt Baxter won the senior race over 6km for an unprecedented third title at this level. Baxter finished with a 43-second winning margin to keep his unbeaten record in secondary school cross-country events intact, with the national championships a month away and his major goal for the season.
Team-mate Rhys Bishop finished fifth in the senior race, with year 11 pupil Tom Spencer a creditable eighth.
New Plymouth won the senior teams race, amassing 14 points from Hamilton Boys' (15 points) and Tauranga Boys' (31 points).
The under-16 years race was run over 4000m around the fields and hills of the Massey rugby campus.
NPBHS's Ross Stembridge was in fine form to finish second, 6sec behind Napier Boys' best- performed long-distance runner.
Chris Kelly was seventh and Matt Chadwick 11th, leaving the three-strong under-16 team third with 20 points, behind Napier (16) and Tauranga (19).
In the year 9 race over 3000m, New Plymouth were clear winners in the teams event with Angus White first home to maintain his unbeaten run this season. Team-mates Riley Rigden (fifth) and Drew Farnsworth (sixth) combined to score 12 points with Napier BHS second on 23 points and Tauranga next with 24 points.
The Super 8 shield is determined by combining the team scores in the three competing age- groups. New Plymouth totalled 46 points, Tauranga Boys' 74 and Napier Boys 94.
NPBHS coach Paul Dominikovich was thrilled with the team's success, describing it as emphatic.
"Tauranga have lifted the standard in recent years winning four of the last five events so to take the shield off them is very satisfying."
Dominikovich pointed out that the win was a total team effort, the event being scored on a team's first six runners home. "It was depth they were looking for across the different age-groups."
He said having seven runners from the school compete at the world championships in Malta last March had helped lift the standards of the team's senior runners.
The NPBHS cross-country team competes at the Taranaki secondary schools championships next Thursday before the national championships in Auckland on June 16.