Magic Mounties keep national title

By Kelly Exelby

He should have been toasting a magnificent victory - instead Mount Maunganui surf lifesaving coach John Bryant was left feeling a little hollow yesterday.
Mount destroyed the competition in the overall club standings at the national championships on their home beach, retaining the Alan Gardner Trophy by a massive 46 points.
But Bryant was left seething when his star board paddler Andrew Newton was again left out of the New Zealand squad to prepare for next year's world championships.
"Newts was pretty much the only one taking on and beating the Aussies at the International Surf Challenge and he brought a lot of heart to that team," Bryant said. "I'm just really gutted for him because he showed today what he's capable of."
Newton blitzed the men's board race, winning back the title he last held in 2009 amid one of the strongest fields ever assembled, containing four former champions.
"I struggled after the International Challenge to get myself up for this but I cut back a few other events and I just had so much energy in that race," Newton said. "I thought it was going to be a battle up the beach with a good tight finish but then I thought 'why do that when I can get a wave instead!' It just felt so good."
The Dunedin-born 24-year-old will head to the Australian championships next month hoping to cap a brilliant year.
"Every season I've been here, I've just been stepping up the ladder and this year, racing for New Zealand, was a huge step. By winning this one in a commanding fashion, I guess it shows what I've been capable of for a while. I just haven't believed it until now."
Despite Newton's absence, Mount had three athletes selected in New Zealand squads, with Arna Wright's sprinting and board paddling abilities seeing her in the senior squad and Katrina Madill and Aimee Berridge in the development squad.

Berridge won the ironwoman crown for the first time, holding off a strong charge from defending champion Nikki Cox, and her first act after crossing the line was to ring her disbelieving mum Donna in Queensland.
"I just can't believe it - earlier this season, I actually quit the sport and I've only been back racing for the past six weeks," the 20-year-old Berridge said. "I haven't even done an ironman session since November - I've just been letting my hair down and enjoying myself. Without that break and getting away and putting things in perspective, this wouldn't have happened today."
Kayaker Lisa Carrington also picked up valuable points for Mount Maunganui, winning the women's ski race and helping the women's taplin team win, alongside 15-year-old swimmer Jess Miller and board paddler Wright.
Wright was also part of history on Saturday, helping the Mount women's beach relay win their eighth consecutive title.
Holly Moczydlowski has been in all eight and believes the current lineup of herself, Wright, Chelsea Maples and Tamsyn McGarva is the best ever.
"We've been the team to beat for the last eight years but every year we turn up pretending we've never won it. We always have something to prove and it keeps us sharp," she said.
Mount finished on 129.25 points, with Papamoa on 83.75 and Red Beach on 69.5. Omanu were eighth, with Ashley Cochrane, Max Beattie and Danielle O'Connor shining.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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