Kirstie Rae And WEGC In Good Cross Country Form

Wellington East Girls’ College duo Kirstie Rae and Maali Kyle-Ford warmed up for the upcoming New Zealand Secondary School Cross Country Championships in Taupo in a fortnight by winning the respective U19 and U16 titles at the Wellington Regional Championships last week.

Held at Harcourt Park, Kirstie won the 4km Senior Girls race by a healthy 29 seconds to second-placed Lucy Hegan from Wellington Girls’ College, with Jayme Maxwell from Hutt Valley High School just behind her in third.

Maali won a tighter U16 Intermediate Girls race over 3km, coming in nine seconds ahead of Jessica Hughes and Maia Holbert, both of Wellington Girls’ College.

In the 3km Year 9 Girls, WEGC schoolmate Anna Basset was second to winner Katelyn Screats of Chilton St James School, with  Edie Kozyniak of St Catherine’s College second and another WEGC runner, Maia Wilkinson, in fourth.

WEGC won the Year 9 three-person teams event and finished second in both the three-person Intermediate and Senior teams races.

Senior Girls winner and year 12 athlete Kirstie Rae was pleased with her race.

“I just wanted to have a good hit-out before nationals, so it was a good race for me,” she said. “Lots of the girls in my race I will also be competing against in Taupo so it was good to see where I am at – practising on a muddy course with lots of people!”

The 4km course was the same distance as Nationals. How did the race pan out? “For about the first kilometre I think we were all quite close. There was a group of about four or five of us, and soon after I broke away and held on.”

Kirstie’s WEGC teammate and year 13 runner Tessa Hunt wasn’t competing as an injury precaution measure but should be good to go in Taupo.

Last December at the NZSS Track and Field Championships in Hastings, Tessa won the Senior Girls 800m and 1500m titles and Kirstie finished fifth and third respectively. Both finals on Sunday were barely an hour apart.

Kirstie said WEGC will be well represented at the cross country nationals. “I think we have got about 16 people going, and I think about seven senior girls so that is exciting.”

Three years ago, WEGC runner Kelsey Foreman finished second in the Senior Girls race at nationals, so Kirstie and Tessa and the team will be out to emulate her achievement.

Kirstie didn’t compete at cross country nationals last year, but two years ago finished third in the Junior Girls. Tessa finished fifth in her first year as a senior in 2016 and fourth last year.

Kirstie carried on her

good form on the track Following the Secondary School Track & Field Championships in December.

“I won the Wellington 1500m Championships and got second in the 1500m and fifth in the 800m in the National Track & Field Championships in March.”

Does she have a preference for what she competes in? “I quite like all of them, I like the variety from cross country and how each race is different but I also like the track as well.”

Who are some of the other runners to look out at nationals in Taupo? “I think that Hannah O’Connor [Sacred Heart, New Plymouth] and Aimee Ferguson [Rototuna High School], who have just come fourth and fifth at the World Secondary School Cross Country, will definitely be ones to look out for and will deliver a good race. Tessa Webb [Feilding High School] as well, she is very strong on the hills and since Taupo is really hilly she will be fast on that course.

Kirstie has raced on the Taupo once before. “I did it in year 9 for the North Island Cross Country Championships. I remember there was a really hard hill not far from the finish line.”

This coming weekend Kirstie will continue her preparations for the NZSS Cross Country Nationals with the Wellington regional harrier Dawn Cup race, competing for her Wellington Harriers club. “That will be quite a tough one and will be my last major work-out.”