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Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Wairarapa athletes in title hunt

There may only be a small representation from Wairarapa at the Athletics New Zealand road racing championships in Masterton on Saturday but they should still make their presence felt in a big way.
Making it to the podium in their Masters age groups is certainly not beyond the capabilities of Tony Price (men’s 60yrs) Andrea Harris (women’s 45yrs) and David Farlow (men’s 70yrs) and strong showings are also anticipated from Max Spencer and Hugh O’Donoghue in the men’s under-18 grade, Bianca Green in the women’s under-18 event and Mana Stevens in the girls under-13 grade.
Meanwhile, Jono Jackson (Auckland) is expected to continue his dream run back home this winter by taking out the senior men’s 10km event. The 25-year-old has swept all aside in the North Island and won the coveted national cross-country crown in early August.
Jackson won’t be any absolute certainty though.Up against him will be Daniel Balchin (Canterbury) who took him right to the wire at the cross-country championships where Jackson’s winning margin was just 7secs.
Both Jackson and Balchin have featured in previous road championships, Jackson winning the 2009 junior title and placing second in the 2011 senior championship. He finished fifth among the seniors in 2013 and again last year. Balchin was third senior man home in 2013 and second in 2014.
Laura Nagel (Hawke’s Bay-Gisborne) and Lydia O’Donnell (Auckland) should battle it out for the senior women’s title. Nagel was impressive at the North Island cross-country championships and again in winning the New Zealand title on the Auckland Domain. She has since won the Hawke’s Bay-Gisborne road title by five minutes in 35.04.
O’Donnell won the national 10,000m track title in January in 34.32.80 and was third in the national half marathon championship in June.
Sally Gibbs (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) has entered the Masters women 5km as well as the senior 10km. She should win the Masters women title outright and the fastest of the Masters men last year, Steve Rees-Jones (Hamilton), will be expected to call the tune for that title again.
Hannah O’Connor (Taranaki) and Tessa Webb (Manawatu-Wanganui) are the leading two in the youth women’s 5km while Kelsey Forman (Wellington), the 2015 youth cross-country champion is the sole entrant in the junior women’s championship.
Isaiah Priddey (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) should add the youth 6km road title to the national cross-country title he won last month. Back for another tilt in this grade is last year’s runner up James Uhlenberg (Auckland).
Michael Voss (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) will be defending his junior title over 8km and Finlay Seeds (Trentham) and Charli Miller (Hamilton) should follow up their cross-country victories with wins on the road in the under-15 3km. Seventeen have entered the combined boys and girls under-13 2km. Jonathon Lord (South Canterbury) and Laura Langley (Hastings) should win their divisions of the 10km race walk.
The championships, which are being hosted by Wairarapa Track and Field, start at 9am with the race walks and the senior 10km is the last event at 2pm. All races will be run over a spectator-friendly 1km circuit taking in Cole Street, Coradine Street, Perry Street and Miller Place, all of which will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7.30am to 3.30pm.

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