Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

More young athletes stay in Bay

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Athletics New Zealand sprints and relay coordinator Kerry Hill is impressed with the standard of young athletic talent in the Western Bay of Plenty.

Hill mentors some of New Zealand's top young talent in the region along with other Tauranga-based coaches Kevin Hoare, Todd Blythe and Regan Standing.

"Talent is everywhere but, where you've got coaching and facilities, then you can make progress. Western Bay has got all that but we really need to upgrade the (Domain) track in order to maintain the standards," Hill said.

"It will also prevent a few injuries and that will also help keep people around and attract others. Athletics has come a long way in the last few years in the Western Bay and there is a lot of hard work done by the administrators here. They are providing the opportunity for the talent that is there."

Long jumper Mariah Ririnui
Long jumper Mariah Ririnui

Hill is encouraged by the number of top young athletes deciding to stay in Tauranga to study.

"Some of our talent is staying here now because they are getting scholarships out of Bay of Plenty Polytech and the AUT courses there, which is fairly critical.

"The city really needs to get a boarding hostel at one of the schools and then we could actively recruit people like others do and have conferences here."

Three Tauranga athletes have made New Zealand teams that will contest the IAAF World U20 Championships in Poland in July.

Hill says they are the top performers among a stellar group.

"The ones that have made the world juniors (Jake Hurley, Brooke Somerfield and Ethan Holman) are getting themselves into a position where they can challenge strongly for a place at the (2018) Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

NZ under-20 rep Brooke Somerfield
NZ under-20 rep Brooke Somerfield

"The junior girls including Brooke have achieved times which are the five fastest 200 metres times in the country this year, seniors or juniors, and they have two more years' development for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

"Ethan is in a position where at 17 he is knocking 19-year-olds out of the 100m relay group that has run 10.8 (seconds) last year. If he had got some tail winds this year, he would have been in that area.

"Give him another two years and, if he can improve two-tenths, he is in a good position to challenge for the men's relay team. He has come along very, very well since he broke his leg playing rugby which mucked up his season two years ago.

"Jake Hurley is a really hard trainer and does more than half his sessions on his own. That's a good sign. He is in the same situation as Ethan. For half the season he was beating Ethan then towards the end Ethan got the jump on him."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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