Photos: Simon Dawson Photography

By Kent Gray/ in Mount Maunganui
Hayley Cornwall and Finnley Oliver were the determined seekers and delighted finders of Bay Radiology New Zealand Schools Triathlon Championships redemption on Thursday.

Mount Maunganui College’s Oliver and Palmerston North Girls’ High School’s Cornwall won the premier U19 titles on a picture postcard day in Mount Maunganui after previous close calls in the senior races.

Fuelled by recent Oceania U19 Championship medals at last month’s World Triathlon Cup weekend in Napier – silver for Oliver and bronze for Cornwall – it was a sweet way for the year 13 students to sign off their final schools nationals.

It was also a great signal to the Tri NZ selectors that both desperately want a spot on the New Zealand team for the World Junior (U19) Championships in Malaga this October

After placing 2nd two years ago before bypassing last year’s schools nationals in Wanaka, winning on home surf and turf was particularly sweet for Oliver who completed the sprint in 56:35. He was just under a minute clear of reigning senior boys champion Coen Anderson (St Kentigern College/57:24) with Auckland Grammar School’s Caleb Wegener rounding out the podium in 58:26.

“I qualified for the Worlds last year and I should qualify this year based on the Oceania results I guess but that doesn’t come out till April so it was my last chance to get a actual national title. I knew I was capable of it, and I just really had to push to do it,” Oliver told

“I knew I was going to be at the front in the swim, my swimming’s been going really well at the moment. I usually am better without a wetsuit, but I saw Coen up at that first buoy and I knew we were going to swim together so I sort of sat with him.

“We ran into transition together, so I was like, okay, we’re going to have to send this bike and make sure we stay away in case anyone one behind is going to run us down but we definitely did that.”

Oliver, coached by Hayden Wilde’s coach, Craig Kirkwood, then ran 16:34 for the 5km to Anderson’s 16:42 to claim gold. He still found a humble tribute to his vanquished rival afterwards despite the personal joy.

“Coen’s a great swimmer, a great cyclist, a great athlete. He’s sort of had issues with his feet recently, so it almost takes a little away from the win, to beat him in a way because he’s only just come back to running. He’s a great athlete and I’m sure he’ll be back racing harder sooner or later.”

Oliver is also determined to come back stronger if he does get selected for Malaga after finishing 46th in his debut World Triathlon Championships in Hamburg last July.

“Last year my world champs race wasn’t as good as I’d have liked so this year, assuming I go, I’d love to be around that top 10 area if I could, that would be really exciting if I could do that.”

Cornwall has won lower age group titles at the NZ Schools Triathlon Championships twice previously but withdrew from last year’s senior race in Glendhu Bay with wicked stomach pain. That made her doubly determined to win in Mount Maunganui.

“Wanaka wasn’t the best so I wanted to …kind of like redemption so it made me more hungry I guess,” she said. “It’s my last year so it’s like, I want to take it out one more time,” said Cornwall who is coached by New Plymouth-based Tri NZ Women and Girls Lead, Tamara Reed.

Cornwall is hopeful of Malaga selection and did all she could to impress the Tri NZ selectors with victory in 1:06:07. Woodford House’s Sophie Webber was second in 1:06:34 with Charlotte Chiles of Rangi Ruru Girls’ School securing the bronze medal in 1:07:51.

“In our warm-up [swim], it was pretty bumpy so I was like, I’ll try and catch a wave but as soon as we started racing it was pretty flat. I had quite a bad start, dived in…it was too shallow but that was okay. Swam with two other girls and we came out and then we worked together on the bike.

“I wanted to get out on the run first, get in a good mindset, I guess. So, then I just took it hard from the front as soon as the run started. I had my watch, I was looking at the splits and I was like, I’ve just got to keep consistent.”

U16 Boys.
U16 Girls.

Alex Bishop (St Kentigern College), Sam Ruthe (Tauranga Boys’ College) and Jyde Low (St John’s College/Hastings) made up the U16 boys podium with Bishop nearly winning by a full minute.

Sophie Lampe (St Andrews College) won the U16 girls title in 44:18 from Indie Williams (Diocesan School For Girls) and Dorothy Anderson (St Kentigern College).

U14 Boys.
U14 Girls.

The U14 titles went to William Moulder (St Peters College) from James Trimboy (Christchurch Boys’ High School) and Burnside High Schools’ Ben Lough, and St Kent’s Sophie Archer from Queen’s High Schools’ Eve Kelleher and Mingrui Zhang (Wentworth College).

U12/U13 Boys.
U12/U13 Girls.

Hugo Skerman from Huntley School won the U12/13 boys’ title ahead of Jai Parris (Palmerston North Boys’ High School) and Brock Smith of Southland Boys.

Maggie Lintott (Halcombe), Elza Harrington (The Cathedral Grammar School) and Abigail Junge (Cashmere Primary School made up the U12/13 girls podium.

Full results from the Bay Radiology New Zealand Schools Triathlon Championships can be found HERE.

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