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Local athletes riding high

Max Spencer of Rathkeale College crossing the line to win the senior boys 800m at the New Zealand Secondary School Athletics Championships. PHOTO/CASWELL IMAGES


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Ten medals, a New Zealand record and 18 top-eight finishes were the highlights of an impressive weekend of sport from the Wairarapa athletes competing at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Athletics Championships in Dunedin.

As is usually the case, Wairarapa punched well above its weight to record a host of spectacular results across the two days of competition at Caledonian Ground in Dunedin.

Three gold medals were won by Wairarapa athletes, with Rathkeale College’s Max Spencer winning the senior 800m in a time of 1.54.06, and the Wairarapa College pair of Ben Taylor and Josh Taylor picking up golds in the senior para discus and senior para 400m respectively.

Spencer’s performance had him named in the New Zealand paper team, which is the equivalent of making a tournament team.

Gold medal winners Josh Taylor, left, and Ben Taylor. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Ben Taylor’s discus throw of 19.97m is yet to be verified as an official New Zealand record, but officials at the event said he had broken the previous mark.

It was an incredibly successful weekend for both Ben Taylor and Josh Taylor, with both picking up multiple top-five finishes.

As well as his gold medal and New Zealand record, Ben Taylor also picked up the silver medal in the senior para javelin, and finished fourth in the senior para shot put.

Josh Taylor won silver medals in the senior para 100m and 200m events, and was third in the senior para long jump.

Athletics Wairarapa coach John Quinn was thrilled with the performances of the Wairarapa athletes.

“It was certainly a great meet and to come out with those results was pretty fantastic.

“It was the big event for a lot of them, and some will go on and do the Athletics New Zealand Track and Field Championships in March.”

The other Wairarapa athletes to win medals were Chanel College’s Jack Lewington [silvers in para junior long jump and para junior 100m] and Rathkeale College’s Joseph Quinn [silver in junior hammer].

John Quinn said some athletes had been targeting this event for some time, while others were identified throughout their various training programmes.

“For some, it’s their fulltime sport and they do it all year round,” he said.

“With others, they’ve shown potential and we’ve identified them and taken them as a progression to be the next wave of Wairarapa elite.”

The other top eight finishes at the event were recorded by Gerard Hickey [sixth in senior high jump], Caedeman Hawkins [sixth in junior shot put], Jayden Webb-Milner [seventh in junior 300m hurdles and eighth in junior 200m], Mikael Starzynski [seventh in 400m], Joseph Quinn [seventh in junior javelin] and the Rathkeale College junior 4x400m relay team, who finished eighth.

John Quinn said some athletes may have been disappointed not to finish higher in their respective events, but that could easily happen when competing against the best in the country.

“If someone on the track comes out with a different strategy than you were expecting, things sometimes just don’t go your way, but we’re thrilled with what we were able to achieve.”

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