My last year of secondary school was 2006. Arriving at the sprint race this year at NZSS orienteering in Hawkes Bay had me feeling the years. Jourdan and I made the trip down this year as Grassy Knoll Outdoor to showcase Trimtex gear to the runners. It was also a great chance to keep an eye on how schools racing is going these days.
I like to think I have managed to stay up to date with the juniors on the Auckland scene. It’s always exciting to see the battles they have at club events, plus it pays to keep half an eye on who’s coming up through the ranks. It was awesome to be able to see three days racing where Kiwi juniors showcased some of the depth that’s developing from around the country. I helped Duncan with some of the commentary. Each day when we were looking down start lists all of the grades showed some stacked fields. There were a few highlights for me spectating over the weekend.
Danielle Goodall crushing junior girls.
Danielle has been a regular on the orienteering circuit for a couple of years now. She follows in the footsteps of her big brother Matt. Both have shown that you don’t have to have maps close to home to excel in orienteering. They hail from Thames and have a solid trip to reach any sort of terrain map. Danielle’s race in the long was outstanding. Looking at winsplits she was fastest split on 11/15 legs, 2nd on 3/15 and 3rd on 1/15. She took the win by 5 minutes and 58 seconds, even more impressive when the winning time was 24 minutes!
A little known fact is that Danielle ran first leg on a composite team of Counties runners that put over 5 minutes into Dio and Napier Girls in the relay. Her time on that leg was second fastest, behind Kayla Fairbairn, the senior girls champion, no less.
Nick Smith – speed from the South Island
Nick took the senior boys title in the long. He is no stranger to the podium, doing well at a club level all year. His performance in the NZSS long was impressive for the field he saw off. Consistency reflects in his splits from the long; he avoided mistakes and saw off some more experienced competition. He will be one to watch over in Australia later this year.
Alice Tilley vs Briana Massey
No NZSS is complete without a close race. The senior girls relay delivered. Alice and Briana had a finish chute sprint that was certainly the highlight of the relays. Steve Oram described the battle well over on his blog:
“Briana entered the finish chute a metre or two ahead of Alice and the noise from the spectators, which had been loud to begin with, rose to such a volume that the sheep in the next paddock stampeded and half Hawkes Bay ground to a halt in amazement. Alice tried to take Briana on the right but was unable to get between her and the tape. She dropped back, tried again on the left but seemed unwilling to trust the underfoot conditions. Finally, in the last ten or fifteen metres she eventually found a gap, darted past Briana and reached the finish banner perhaps half a pace ahead.”
The race was reported as a dead heat in the results. Courtesy of the final times given on the sportident punch. According to winsplits Alice pulled 2 seconds back in the finish chute. The battle showed both girls fighting hard and not giving up. It was great to see two competitors give their all to fight for the win.
Westlake Boys winning Boys Premier School
As a Westlake old boy I was stoked to see Westlake take on of the premier schools teams awards. There may have only been a small team from, Westlake, but they were quality. Between Cam Tier and Ryan Williams they grabbed a few individual podiums, enough to see of the challenges of other schools in a competition that rewards top individual results across a number of grades.
There were many other impressive runs over the weekend (Kayla Fairbairn grabbing sprint and long titles in senior while still an intermediate springs to mind). Aside from the performances it was great to see such a good turnout of runners from Whangarei to Dunedin making the trip to Hawkes Bay. The key will be retaining these keen schools orienteers at local club events.