The Taranaki Daily News Sportsperson of the Year awards will be held in New Plymouth on Friday, November 23. Today, we feature the nominees for the senior sportsman, junior sportsman, coach, and game official awards. The guest speaker for this year's awards night at the Plymouth International Hotel is former New Zealand representative hockey player Barry Maister.
Matthew Baxter (athletics)
Matthew was first in the Australian secondary schools' cross-country in Adelaide and fourth overall in the under-20 age group. He was captain of the New Zealand team at the champs. He has gained initial selection in the squad to represent New Zealand in the junior men's division at the world cross-country in Poland in March. Matthew won numerous club, provincial and national titles and has been invited to join the Rio 2016 squad as a gold member of the 2012-13 season. He has the fastest time for a m19 runner in New Zealand this season. He won both the m19 races at the national cross-country and road race champs.
Lachlan Boshier (rugby)
Openside flanker Lachlan gained selection in the New Zealand secondary schools' rugby side to play games against Samoa and Australia in Auckland. Lachlan was one of the standout players in the New Plymouth Boys' High School first XV this year, captaining the side. He made the Taranaki under-18 rep side and the 2012 Hurricanes schools' side. He was the first loose forward from Boys' High to make the national side since Zarhn Commerer in 2005.
Ben Crombie (basketball)
Ben was a member of the New Zealand under-18 men's basketball team which competed at the Australian State championships. He was the top points scorer at the tournament. Ben, from New Plymouth Boys' High School, was also captained the Taranaki under-19 side which competed at the national tournament. This year was his fourth in the Boys' High first V basketball team.
Ryan Dingle (triathlon)
Ryan is an accomplished sportsperson, with triathlon and duathlon his two specialist sports. He finished 13th in the 16-19 men's race at the ITU world triathlon champs in Auckland. At the New Zealand secondary schools' champs, he finished eighth after winning Taranaki race. He won the Taranaki secondary schools' duathlon title and placed eighth at the national secondary schools' champs. He also won the senior boys' swimming and cross-country titles at Spotswood College. Ryan also won the senior boys' title at the Taranaki secondary schools' cycling champs.
Haimona Hiroti (rugby league)
Haimona is a talented rugby league player and has already attracted the attention of the NRL clubs attending training camps with the Melbourne Storm, Manly Sea Eagles and South Sydney Rabbitohs. He's heading to another trial at Souths later this month. Haimona captained the Central Vipers in the under-17 competition and made the Central Districts under-17 team. In September, he played for the 2012 New Zealand residents 16s team. He played for both the Taranaki under-17 team and the Taranaki Maori under-17 team.
Tai Juneau (skiing)
Tai was in the New Zealand ski team competing at the Western FIS giant slalom race in Wyoming in the United States finishing 32nd overall in the giant slalom and 14th in the J2 (15-16 years). In the slalom, he was 34th in the open and 14th in the J2. In the New Zealand champs at Coronet Peak, Tai finished 51st overall in the giant slalom - the fifth New Zealand junior and seventh New Zealander. In the slalom, he was 46th overall - fifth New Zealand junior and seventh New Zealander. He finished second in the senior boys' giant slalom at the New Zealand secondary schools' champs.
Sean Kettle (surfing)
Sean had an outstanding year riding the waves. He won numerous club and Taranaki competition, with his biggest achievement winning the under-20 division at the New Zealand Pro Series. Sean is renowned for his aerial surfing and radical, progressive style which makes him stand out from the opposition in competitions around the country. He works hard and is always looking at ways of perfecting his surfing manoeuvres.
Sanjay Modgill (golf)
Sanjay is a member of the New Zealand junior golf academy, one of seven players from around the country. He finished third at the New Zealand under-19 champs. He has represented Taranaki at senior level, but this year choose to concentrate on other tournaments and programmes. He captained the New Plymouth Boys' High School team, winning his games at No 1 against Auckland Grammar and Hamilton Boys' High. At the Taranaki secondary schools' champs, he finished second.
Reuben O'Neill (rugby)
Reuben, a prop, gained selection in the New Zealand secondary schools' rugby side to play games against Samoa and Australia in Auckland. Reuben burst on to the scene this year after missing all of 2011 following an operation to remove a bone cyst on his left foot. later that year, he was diagnosed with diabetes. He overcame both setbacks playing strongly for the Boys' High first XV this year and made the Taranaki under-18 side. A keen gym worker, Reuben has bulked up and now weighs 110kg. He was the first prop from Boys' High to make the national side since former All Black and Taranaki front rower Gordon Slater.
Liam Paterson (orienteering)
Liam was one of six boys selected in the New Zealand team for the world junior orienteering championships in Slovakia and was also named in the New Zealand secondary schools' side to compete against the State teams in Australia. Liam also made the elite team (three men and three women) to compete against Australia. At the New Zealand champs, he won the men's 18 grade, while at the Australian schools' champs, he finished eighth in the boys' individual race. He was also in the combined New Plymouth Boys' High-Girls' High Hillary Challenge team which finished second behind Opunake High School.
Matthew Podjursky (karting)
The New Plymouth karter was won several titles over the last year. Matthew won the New Zealand CIK junior Yamaha title and was first home in the Taranaki club champs and the Taranaki winter series in the same class. Matthew finished second in the Taranaki enduro junior Yamaha class and was third at the New Zealand schools' teams' race in the intermediate division. At the New Zealand schools' champs, he finished fifth in the junior Yamaha and was sixth at the New Zealand champs.
Ajeet Rai (tennis)
The talented Taranaki tennis player is is at the Bollettieri Academy in Florida and has just won his first USTA tournament after being asked to return to the States for three months. He won the New Plymouth Boys' High School tennis champs and earlier this year was a semifinalist in the Nick Bollettieri Invitational Discovery tournament. He was a member of the New Zealand World Youth Cup which played in Malaysia. Ajeet holds both the Taranaki under-14 and under-16 singles titles and played for the Taranaki senior team in the Christie Cup.
Ricky Riccitelli (cricket/rugby)
Ricky excelled at both cricket and rugby, making the Taranaki men's Chapple Cup cricket team as well as the Taranaki under-18 cricket team and the central Districts under-19 squad. He has played 54 games for Francis Douglas Memorial College in the Taranaki premier grade competition scoring two centuries and one 50 in the 2011-2012 season. He was the top runscorer for the school with 633 runs. He also played first XV rugby for the school and was a member of the Taranaki under-18 side. He was also a member of the Taranaki Rugby Union's pre-academy squad.
Pun Thepkunhanimit (badminton)
Pun has had a very successful year, the highlight winning the New Zealand under-17 badminton tile. He was younger than most of his opponents and was seeded fifth to eighth at the champs, He beat the No 2 seed in the semifinals, then beat the top seed in the final. He also made it through to the semifinals in the under-17 mixed doubles. Pun also won the Taranaki under-17 competition which was part of the Badminton New Zealand circuit winning against top Auckland players. His winning record this year in singles is 31 from 32 games, 13 from 19 in doubles and 23 from 28 in mixed doubles.
Kyle Van der Merwe (athletics)
At the New Zealand athletic championships, Kyle won the discus, shot put and javelin competing in the men's 17 grade. On Athletics New Zealand's performance ranking list, Kyle is first in the men's 17 discus, shot put and javelin. He is a member of Athletics New Zealand's gold level 2020 performance development squad for 2012-13. Kyle is the current North Island secondary schools' discus and javelin champion and was second in the shot put, breaking the senior boys' record in the discus. He will compete at the national secondary schools' champs next month.
Julian Weir (swimming)
Julian won bronze in the under-16 100m backstroke at the Australian championships. In the transtasman tri-series, he represented New Zealand finishing third in the 100m backstroke and was a member of the team which set a record when winning the freestyle relay. At the Victorian age group champs, he won two golds, a silver and two bronzes. Julian won five golds at the New Zealand short-course champs in his age group and was placed in the top 10 in six open finals. He has qualified for January's Australian Youth Olympics. At the New Zealand age group champs, Julian won three golds and two silvers and set a record in the 5om backstroke.
Des Wilcox (eight-ball)
The highlight of the year for Des was winning the New Zealand junior eight-ball championships in Nelson. The talented pool player won four titles at the New Plymouth Club - the open singles, the open pairs, the closed singles and the closed pairs. On the larger snooker table, Des won he New Plymouth Club's A grade title and the club's open title. He is also a low handicap golfer, winning the 2011 Steve Williams New Zealand mixed age group classic at the Inglewood course.
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