Early season form will give a contingent of Nelson sprinters plenty of confidence ahead of this weekend’s New Zealand Secondary School Track & Field Championship in Dunedin.
The six sprinters, all coached by Nayland College teacher Dennis Kale, will be expected to qualify deep into the final rounds of the competition, with Jonas Kale a realistic chance at claiming a gold medal in the junior boys’ 100m event.
Jonas ran a personal best 11.39 seconds at the recent Tasman Championship, following that up with a wind assisted time of 11.24 seconds just days later. Historical results suggest Jonas will have to run a personal best to be guaranteed first place, but the weather conditions in Dunedin could dictate exactly how quick each finalist will run. Dennis says the eight finalists should run under 11.5 seconds.
“The winner could run 11.25 seconds or something, so they’re likely to all be within five meters of each other,” he says. “It’s a fast track but it can be quite wind affected both ways. We do a lot of hard work on the track so I don’t want him to go there and run just one good race, he has to progress through the rounds.”
The group’s second best shot at reaching a final will come from Adam Pauling, who will race in the senior boys’ 200m grade for the first time. Dennis believes he could make the top eight, having ran a personal best of 23.09 seconds recently.
Jonas and Adam will link up with Mitchell Chandler, who will be entered in the senior boys 100m and 200m, and middle distance runner Thomas Anderson for the 4x400m relay.
The three girls in the group; Hannah Shepherd, Madisen Stanley and Bonita Morrissey-Smith are realistic chances of making the top 16. Hannah has dropped more than one second off her 200m PB and goes into the national event with personal bests of 13.14 seconds for the 100m and 26.94 seconds for the 200m. Madisen will be entered in the senior girls’ 400m and has ran a personal best time of 62.8 seconds. Bonita will compete in the longer 800m event, and has a personal best of 2 minutes 30.2 seconds.
The six athletes have been training together for the past 18 weeks, preparing themselves for the biggest event of the high school track season.
The main club national championship is in March, meaning school students need to peak four months earlier than the seniors athletes. “They’ve done really well so far. I think they’re hungry for it, but it’s hard to tell if they’re excited or not because they’re pretty laid back.”