Moulai and O’Connor chasing NZ Schools Cross Country titles
Nick Moulai will be hoping to follow on from a successful track season with a good run in the annual New Zealand secondary schools cross country championship on his home turf at the Ascot Golf Course in Christchurch on Saturday.
Moulai was outstanding at the schools track championships last December with a slashing 3000m which resulted in a New Zealand under 17 record of 8:16.77. He followed this up with victories at the New Zealand championships in the youth men’s 800m and 1500m.
Moulai has come a long way from his 25th placing in Rotorua last year and has produced some good cross country results in Canterbury this winter. His toughest opposition could come from Isaiah Priddey and last year’s junior winner Murdoch McIntyre.
Moulai and Priddey are also training towards competing in the 1500m and 3000m at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas next month.
Chasing hard and keeping the 6km three-lap race honest will be a big group including Jacob Holmes, Joseph Clark, Flynn Palmer, Samuel Tanner, Seamus Kane, James Uhlenberg, Jonathan Ansley, Theo Quax, George Cory-Wright, Connor Melton, Luke Hill, Liam Chesney, Kalani Sheridan, Bradley Cullen, Janus Stanfenberg and Sam and Lochie Montgomerie.
Hannah O’Connor should continue her form over the country making it three years in a row as a winner adding the senior girls’ to the last two years of taking out the junior title. Tessa Webb will be determined to defend her title and Amelia Persson, second last year will be aiming to go one better in the 4km race.
Navajo Prentice, the Canterbury U/20 5000m champion with a time of 17:32.01 and Grace Ritchie, Waikato Bay of Plenty U/20 5000m champion with 17:51.74 should have the stamina to pull through any boggy sections.
Liliana Braun second in the junior girls last year, Phoebe McKnight, Auckland schools winner Kendall Vaughan, Samantha Burke, Tessa Hunt, Bridie Edwards, Mya Graham and Akeira Worthington will also be in the hunt for a medal.
Finn Seeds second in year nine last year will be hard to peg back in the junior boys 4km. But giving him a good run for his money should be Sebastian Wharton and Blair Hill.
It should be a clear cut victory for Charli Miller in the junior girls, as it was last year for her in the year nine race. Briana Irving and Natalya Carter should be up with the early pace.
Strong runs should come from David de Vaal, Zane Powell, Ben Roscoe and Joe Shiozawa in the year nine boys, while Arabella White should account for herself well in the year nine girls along with Joanna Poland.
With over 900 entries from 130 schools, the championships is the biggest cross country event in the country.