Strong contenders in schools champs

New Zealand's best secondary school athletes will be in action at Porritt Stadium this weekend including a number of Waikato frontrunners.

The 39th New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships are being held in Hamilton today and tomorrow in conjunction with the New Zealand Youth Games.

A total of 1470 athletes from 225 schools have entered with competition starting at 9am both days.

Ariana Lord (St Peters) is favourite going into the senior girls' 1500m in a classy lineup of middle distance runners.

They include classy Cantabrian Rosa Flanagan who should dominate the 2000m steeplechase having twice this season broken the national under-18 record, reducing it to 6 minutes 33.97 seconds.

Flanagan will also defend her 3000m title, having already run two seconds under the schools record this year, and will be up against world youth rep Audrey Gregan.

World youth championship representative Shannon Gearey will go head to head with defending champion from Cambridge High School, Talia Horgan, in the 400m while Waikato Diocesan's Tarryn Davey, who also ran in the championship in Ukraine, will face Lucy Jacobs and Holly Manning in the 800m.

Other leading Waikato contenders include Jacob Priddey (Hamilton Boys' High) in the senior boys' 1500m/3000m double where he will face challenges from Ben Musson in the 1500m and Geordie Beamish and Mike Lowe in the 3000m.

Schoolmate Theunis Peters will be  up against a strong field in the senior boys' 800m, while James Hunt (St Paul's Collegiate) will challenge world youth champs competitor James Sandilands in the senior boys' 110m hurdles and Quin Hartley in the 300m hurdles.

Matthew Bloxham of Orewa College will need all of the inner grassed area at Porritt Stadium this weekend where he will be seeking an 80 metre toss in the hammer throw.

The 17-year-old blasted his New Zealand under-18 record out to 79.74m on the North Shore last Saturday and he will be throwing the same weighted hammer of 5kg where his schools' record is 73.47m. Bloxham will be defending his senior boys hammer title as well as the shot put title he won last year in Dunedin.

While the hammer title is a forgone conclusion Bloxham will face a strong challenge in the shot put from world youth championships representatives Benedict Chong Wong, Sam Ulufonua and Charlie Gamble. Chong Wong will also compete in the hammer, discus and javelin throws. Andrew Jackson and Ben Power, in both the shot and discus, should add to making field events a feature of the championships.

Ofa Hakeai is the leading thrower in the senior girls' shot and discus throw, while Lauren Bruce looks set to dominate the hammer and discus throws. Laura Overton is the leading competitor in the senior javelin throw. Montaya Wharehinga, ntsGisnte entered in all four throwing events, should medal in the hammer.

Dalton Coppins should sign out his school days by retaining his 200m title. The Sacred Heart pupil from Auckland will be chasing the record of 21.39. Jacob Matson, junior boys' champion last year and William Smart should be up for podium places in both the 100m and 200m. Austen Heuvel will contest the 100m.

The senior boys' 400m should produce a spectacular finish with Robert Jopp, Bailey Stewart, defending champion Tom Smith, Matthew Connolly and Josh Ledger all having run under 49 seconds this year.

Waikato Times