Scots pair taking cross-country route to hockey final

TOM CAUGHLEY and James Preston will be rivals on Wednesday and team-mates on Friday.

The versatile Scots College pair will be two of the leading contenders for the senior boys title at Wednesday’s College Sport Wellington cross-country championships at Trentham.

They will then join forces when Scots meet Wairarapa College in the final of the first round of the secondary schools hockey competition on Friday.

 Caughley and Preston both finished in the top 10 at the cross-country championships last year and showed they were in good form again when performing well at the Vosseler Shield last weekend.

Preston was runner-up in the men’s under-20 and Caughley won the under-18 division.

Preston finished 16th at the national secondary schools cross-country championships last year and had a successful track season last summer.

He was fourth in the senior 1500m at the national secondary schools championships, in December, and third in the under-20 800m at the national track and field championships.

He ended the track season with a flourish by recording a personal best of 1:54.52 when winning the 800m at the North Island secondary schools meeting.

 Caughley and Preston also have key roles in the hockey first XI.

Caughley is a striker and a member of the Capital under-18 squad and Preston, who has usually played as a striker or inner, has switched to centre half, as cover for Lachie Paton, who will be out for some time with a hand injury.

Scots have four players in the Capital under-18 side, the others being midfielder and captain Sam Chandler, defender Lothar Krumpen and goalkeeper Matthew Papesch. Paton was also in the squad but will miss the national under-18 tournament.

The premier one grading round suggested that the hockey competition will be particularly tight this year.

Though Scots and Wairarapa got through to the final, both semifinals were decided by a penalty shootout, with Scots eventually beating HIBS and Wairarapa edging out Wellington College.

Scots and Wellington College had drawn their round robin match and the HIBS-Wairarapa clash had also ended in a draw.

“There looks to be very little between the top four or five teams,” Scots coach Stuart Preston said.  “The sharp end of the season might come down to who can keep making those small improvements each week and who can take their chances.”

Scots no longer have talented German striker Niki Weiher but retained the bulk of their 2014 squad.

 Preston has been happy with their progress this year but wants an improvement in the conversion rate in the circle. “We need to do a lot of work on our finishing. We have have had a lot of circle  penetrations but the conversion rates needs to be higher.”

Wairarapa, who won the premier one title last year, no longer have the richly talented Joseph Robertson but have already shown that they will be tough to beat again.

Scots, who equalised late in the match against HIBS, are already assured of being awarded the Dominion Post Trophy, for the top Wellington team in the opening round, but it would mean more if they could also claim Friday’s final.

Wellington College, who have been the premier one winners in four of the past five years, will build their 2015 team around an experienced year 13 group, comprising Logen Stent, Jayan Parbhu, Josh Symonds, Rory McNay and Nick Tweed, while the younger players include Capital under-18 rep Tim Schulpen.

HIBS also have an experienced side, with nine year 13 players, and are led by head boy and centre forward Troy Johnson.