Stephen Lett keen to add National title to North Island title

Wednesday 20 July 2011, 9:45PM

By Athletics New Zealand



Stephen Lett will have a good omen on his side as he lines up for the New Zealand cross country championship race at Halswell Quarry in Christchuch on Saturday.

For the last three years the winner of the North Island cross country championship has gone on a month later and won the national title.

Ben Ruthe won in 2008, Andrew Davidson in 2009 and last year Alex Parlane.
Lett has won all but two races this season, beaten by Aaron Pulford in the Huntly half marathon and by Declan Wilson in the North Harbour cross country. But the 26 year old Aucklander won the one that counted the North Island title in Taupo three weeks ago.

So it will be interesting to see if Lett can carry on and claim the New Zealand title over 12km.
Hard on his heels will be Otago’s Dougal Thorburn and Daniel Balchin, Wellington’s Evan Cooper, Stefan Smith and James Coubrough, Matt Harris, Andrew Davidson and Simon Gannaway of Canterbury and fellow Auckland runners Alex Parlane and Jonathan Jackson.

Last year Parlane won with Thorburn third, Coubrough fourth and Smith fifth.

Danielle Trevis of Auckland should follow up her W19 title last year with the senior women’s title over 8km. Trevis in her only cross country outing this season blitzed the field to win the North Island senior title. Nicki McFadzien of Canterbury, second in the W19 last year will be in the hunt for a major placing along with Auckland champion Alice Mason who was second to Rowan Baird in 2008, Wellington’s trio of Caroline Mellsop, Tina Harris and Sarah Drought and Auckland’s Robyn Young and Rachael Kingstone.

The M19 is shaping up as a close and interesting encounter between secondary schools champion Declan Wilson and Cameron Graves who was second last year to Aaron Pulford. The Auckland pair should dominate the 8km journey ahead of a strong Tasman contingent headed by Tom Stringer, Alex Gorrie of Canterbury and Wellington’s Kieron McDonald and Ryan McAlister.

Grace McConnochie of Hawkes Bay Gisborne, W16 winner last year moves up to the W19 6km and takes on W16 runner up Ashleigh Williams of Auckland again. Mikayla Nielson of Waikato Bay of Plenty, third in the W19 last year comes into the race with strong claims for the title. Also likely to feature in the podium placings are Annika Pfitzinger of Auckland, Flora Brocherie, Lydia Marshall and Margot Gibson of Canterbury, Shauna Pali of Otago and Nicole Mitchell of Wellington

Kara Macdermid of Manawatu Wanganui and Susannah Lynch of Wellington should dispute the W16 title while Jacob Priddey of Waikato Bay of Plenty, Mike Lowe of Tasman, Finn Wilson of Auckland and Nicholas Pointon should battle out the M16 6km title.

Phil Costley six times New Zealand cross country champion should lead in the masters men ahead of Rees Buck and Stephen Day. Gabrielle O’Rourke, Stephanie MacKenzie and Tracy Crossley are the leading runners in the masters women.

The masters men are the first race of the day at 11.00am, with the senior men concluding a 13 event programme at 3.25pm.

The championships are being held in conjunction with the annual conference and annual general meeting of Athletics New Zealand over the weekend.