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Friday, June 1, 2018

2018 Wellington Secondary Schools XC Races Harcourt Park Upper Hutt Wed 30 May

Matthew Sutcliffe stole the thunder in the Senior Boys Race


For the second year in a row this event has been held at the scenic Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt. 

The format and distances for the six non AWD races is the same as for the Secondary Schools XC races except the local names for the 3 grades seems to differ from how they are described by NZSSA for the national event, which this year will be in Taupo. 

To make life easier this is how it looks

Year 9 (basically 3rd formers under 14)
Junior (the intermediate grade for year 10 and 11 (4th and 5th formers) under 16)
Senior (Senior grade for year 12 and 13 (6th and 7th formers) under 19)

The course layout was the same as last year and included a mix of grass and sealed surfaces. 

A full lap is 3km made up of a 2km circuit and a 1km loop which repeats part of the 2km lap. There were a number of sharp climbs and sharp turns. 

The start is a bit constrained by its narrowness which is probably why it probably was deemed unsuitable as this year’s ANZ National XC course. Although there is no reason why the start could not be on the big sports paddock which is part of the overall park complex

Given all the rain earlier in the week it was not surprising that it was a heavy track as they say in the horse racing industry.   While not swamp boggy (I didn’t inspect the whole course) slippery bits on some of the climbs became more evident due as the day progressed. 

The big upset of the day was in the Senior Boys race when Matthew Sutcliffe (Wellington College) took over the lead from Max Karamanolis with about half of the last lap to go. 

Matthew told me later that he made his move about half way through the last lap when it appeared as if Max was tiring.  

I suspect the fast pace at the start and over the course of the race took its toll on the last lap especially some of those who made up the early leaders.  

The results show the final positions but what would be interesting are the individual positions on lap 1 and 2 compared against the end result to see how the race seesawed.  In other words a video would have been nice. 

The other individual who came though was Toby Gualter (Tawa College) who picked up second.  

One thing I did hear but which can’t verify was that Max K though the race was comprised of two laps and not three.  

The other explanation is that the early pace was too hard and the gnarly bits took its toll.  

Taupo will be interesting.

The other race that turned into a mighty battle was the Year 9 Girls 3km race. 

Sixty three kids finished this race but the winner in a sprint finish was the slightly built Katelyn Sceats (Chilton).  She was 4 seconds ahead of the 2nd place getter with 3rd another 3 seconds back. 

I was surprised a little by Katelyn’s win but when you think about it I really shouldn’t be. Katelyn is very competitive and she is not to be messed with when it comes to running.  

Although only slightly built her power to weight ratio allows her to excel against her competition.  

In many ways she reminds me of Phoebe McKnight who has a single minded determination to succeed. Katelyn is coached by Steve Plowman who thinks she is now starting to "emerge from the shadows" 

In the Year 9 Boys 3km race Jonah Seeds (HIBS) was untouchable.  

In the biggest field of the day with 100 finishers Jonah took the lead right from the gun and basically never looked back.  

His winning margin was 24 seconds over the 2nd runner with the 3rd guy a further five seconds back.  

I think it will be interesting to see how young Mr Seeds goes at Taupo in a couple of weeks time against what is expected to be a huge school national’s field.

In the 3rd race of the day for Junior Girls and the last one over 3km the lead was quickly forged by Maali Kyle-Ford (Wellington East) with Jessica Hughes (Wellington Girls) in 2nd place and potentially within striking distance. 

The procession of runners making up the rest of the field followed.  

On lap 2 some gaps looked like they had closed but the order of the first three lead runners did not change and that is how it finished.  

Wellington East captured the 3 person team title as it did with the Year 9 race which will please Anne Hare no end.

The favourites for the 4km Junior Boys race would have been Will Anthony (Scots College) and Finn Seeds (HIBS).  Both are champion age grade runners with their eyes currently set on Taupo.  

Alastair Leslie (a former national athletics champion in his own right) who coaches Will and several other talented runners said that Will had recently had a touch of the flu and was under instructions not to push it if he didn’t feel up to it.  

Well he must have been up to it because he was well out in front a minute or two after the start and position he never relinquished for the entire race.  

I may be mistaken but I thought Finn didn’t quite look his usual sharp self and the gap between Will and himself and the end of the race was 27 seconds even though at one stage Finn had caught up with Will.  It may just be my imagination though.   

The Senior Girls 4km race had 36 finishers and included a number of familiar names from local centre races.  

By the last lap and near the finish Kirstie Rae (Wellington East), another athlete trained by Alastair Leslie, had a comfortable lead being chased by Lucy Hegan (Wellington Girls) who in turned was being pursued by Jayne Maxwell (HVHS).  

That basically was the finishing order but which has set the scene for a rematch at Taupo next month.

Photos Year 9 Girls

Photos Year 9 Boys

Photos Junior Girls

Photos Junior Boys

Photos Senior Girls

Photos Senior Boys

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