Top results for Desmond Reddy (Rongotai College) and Wellington athletes at NZSS Cross Country Championships

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

He has only been running competitively for a year, but Rongotai College’s Desmond Reddy drew on his recent experiences of winning two similar big races, in winning the New Zealand Secondary Schools Year 9 Boys Cross Country race in Nelson on Saturday.

Last September Desmond won the Inter-Regional Primary & Intermediate Schools Cross-Country Championships Year 8 race in Timaru, helping Wellington to the teams title in that same event.

Last month at Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt, he won the College Sport Wellington Regional Year 9 Boys race.

Heading into his first NZSS race it was understandable that he was a little nervous but competing in these previous races meant he was aware of the quality of the runners around him on the starting line of the 3,000m distance event.

“I wasn’t expecting to win, but was hoping to come inside the top three, so was really happy with how I went on Saturday,” said Desmond.

The wins on Saturday in the NZSS race and last month in Upper Hutt in the College Sport Wellington Regional race were similar, except he was feeling fitter and healthier for this one.

“For the Wellington race at Harcourt Park I wasn’t at my best because I was sick and I got injured at football that week, but I managed to pull out the win.”

On Saturday he led from start to finish, although that wasn’t necessarily his plan.

“At the start I was just trying to let someone get in front of me so I could draft in behind them and see if I was potentially going up against anyone potentially stronger than me.”

But no one was.

In both the Wellington Regional and NZSS races, he held off a group of runners from Wellington College.

Three Wellington College runners were in the top 10 in Nelson on Saturday.

“I am good mates with all of them. George Gray, who finished second in both races, is a really good athlete and he tends to push you on those last 200-300m.

“So, it was not until I got around that final bend and was heading down the straight that I knew I had won.”

Desmond won on Saturday in a time of 10:12, ahead of George Gray in 10:17 and Cooper Ferguson of New Plymouth Boys’ High School in third in 10:25. Wellington College’s Liam Galt was fourth in 10:28 and Wellington College’s Logan Hopfler was eighth in 10:33.

On Sunday, Desmond and four of the Wellington College runners teamed up to win the 5 x 2km Regional Boys 9 race (representing Wellington, not their schools).

Desmond is a member of the Olympic Harrier Club in Johnsonville.

He trains under coach John Cope on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was Cope that introduced him to serious running earlier last year whilst Desmond was a student at Newlands Intermediate and Cope was a teacher aide.

“I wasn’t running seriously; I was more just running in the school cross country. We had this group at Newlands Intermediate called the ‘Running Club’ and my coach used to run that. It was him that encouraged me to do more training and join the club running scene.

“I was just focusing on football and cricket and running was for my fitness for both.”

He plays as a centre midfielder and wing in football and is a fast-bowling all-rounder in cricket.”

He has some more big races coming up over the remainder of the club season, plus the North Island Championships.

He started doing athletics last year. He won the 800m and the 1500m races in his age group at the Wellington Championships towards the end of last year’s track season.

Despite there being no McEvedy Shield for the past two years, he is aware of the McEvedy event and something he would be keen to participate in when it resumes.

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There were other top individual and teams results for Wellington athletes in the individual races on Saturday.

Toby Ireland of Hutt Valley High School won the Junior Boys 2km Para Athlete race in 9:39.

Juju Moorhead (Wellington Girls’ College) was fourth in the Year 9 Girls, Poppy Healy (Wellington Girls’ College) was sixth in the Junior Girls and Ava Sutherland (Wellington Girls’ College) was seventh in the Senior Girls.

Wellington Girls’ College won the year 9 Girls 3-person teams event, was second in the Junior Girls 3-person and 6-person teams and won both the 3 and 6-person Senior Girls teams titles.

Wellington College won the year 9 Boys 3-person teams event, was second in both the Year 9 and Junior Boys 6-person teams, third in the Junior Boys 3-person team, fifth in the Senior Boys 3-person teams and fourth in the Senior Boys 6-person teams.

In the relays on Sunday, the Wellington regional team won the Year 9 and Senior Boys races.