NZ juniors on fire as New Zealand Pinestars win last round and the Test Match against the Australian Bushrangers.
The New Zealand Pinestars edged out the Australian Bushrangers by the narrowest of margins today– just one point apiece for the men and women.
Steep hills, lower visibility forest and 3-minute start intervals gave the race a different flavour, with more individual running and a tougher physical challenge than seen on the first two days of racing.
Winning the individual challenge was Auckland junior Toby Scott who gave the top elites of both New Zealand and Australia something to think about for the second time in three days.
Scott was one of several NZ Juniors on fire over the weekend, taking the scalp of Australian champion David Shepherd by 9 seconds, with Oceania champion Simon Uppill in third.
Fellow NZ junior Jourdan Harvey took 4th place ahead of past and present NZ Champions Darren Ashmore and Ross Morrison; another impressive effort from our juniors, alongside Matt Ogdens two third places and Angela Simpson’s win on day 1.
“It’s great to see!” said Morrison, who will be coaching the Junior Worlds team of which Scott and Harvey are part.
“This Junior Worlds team is hitting top form at just the right time. They’re going to do really well in Denmark; the sandhill terrain there is a lot like Woodhill” added Morrison.
Scott’s kilometre rates on the weekend were not just better than the top elites competing; they were faster even than those of former World Champion Carsten Joergensen when he won the 2009 Nationals in the same area.
With Scott not part of the official New Zealand Pinestars team taking on the Australian Bushrangers it was up to the minor placing Kiwis to pick up enough points to counter the 2nd and 3rd placed Shepherd and Uppill.
It was a close call but with solid runs by Ashmore, Morrison and James Bradshaw the men just pipped the Aussies by one point, 28 to 27.
After the close sprinting finish and 2 second loss of the previous day, NZ and Oceania champion Lizzie Ingham was navigating clean and mistake-free to beat Aussie Kathryn Ewels by 42 seconds.
“This time I was more definite with my route planning and execution” commented Ingham.
“I’m pleased to be up there with Kathryn before we head to Europe!” she added.
Both Ewels and Ingham are known for their ability to perform at their best in big races, but with Ewels picking up a 5th in a World Champs at elite level in 2009 and Ingham only racing in her first World Champs in August this year, it’s hoped that the World Champs may be fruitful for both the elite and the junior elite New Zealand orienteers.
The Junior World Championships are to be held in Aalborg, Denmark from July 4 and the World Orienteering Championships will be in Trondheim, Norway from August 7.
With Aislinn Prendergast (Bushrangers) in third and teammate Laurina Neumann in 4th, it was a close fought team challenge between the two countries.
The Pinestar women eventually edged out the Bushrangers by just1 point, (28:27) giving New Zealand the win for the day of 56 to 54 points and an overall win in the Test Match of 189 points to 141.
Results – Australia New Zealand Test Match Round 3
New Zealanders unless noted otherwise
1 Lizzie Ingham (NZ Pinestars) 57:59, 2 Kathryn Ewels (Australian Bushrangers) 58:41, 3 51:12, 3 Aislinn Prendergast (Australian Bushrangers) 62:49, 4 Laurina Neumann (Australian Bushrangers), 5 Angela Simpson, 6 Penny Kane (NZ Pinestars).
1 Toby Scott 60:48, David Shepherd (Australian Bushrangers) 60:57, 3 Simon Uppill (Australian Bushrangers) 61:09, 4 Jourdan Harvey 63:41, 5 Darren Ashmore (NZ Pinestars), 6 James Bradshaw (NZ Pinestars), 7 Ross Morrison (NZ Pinestars).
Test match points, Round 3 NZ Pinestars men win 28 points to 27, NZ Pinestars women win by 28 points to 27. Overall NZ wins Round 2 56 to 54.
Total: New Zealand Pinestars 189, Australian Bushrangers 141.