By JENNI RUTHERFORD
Auckland Diocesan School for Girls have expectations weighing heavily on their shoulders as they head for the North Island secondary school rowing championships on Friday.
Last year's over-achievers under coach Greg Reid, the school now has to live up to its billing as a medal prospect for the Lake Karapiro regatta.
Waikato Diocesan, unbeaten in the under-19 eights in seven outings this season, have singled-out the Auckland girls as the danger crew.
The crews have met twice this year and Waikato have been victors both times, by three seconds at the Head of Harbour regatta at Lake Pupuke and by just half-a-length over the same 1000m distance at the Te Awamutu regatta.
Auckland Diocesan's hopes also rest with the under-19 pair of Annaleisa Wright and Elizabeth Davies, who have had a busy few days at the North Island championships because they are also members of the under-19 four and the under-19 eights.
In the boys division, St Pauls Collegiate are expected to challenge the Auckland big four of St Kentigern College, King's College, Westlake Boys High School and Auckland Grammar.
St Pauls looked impressive in winning the under-21 and under-19 eights at the national club championships.
They also qualified for the senior and premier men's eights final, but coach Ian Wright scratched them, after deciding they needed to rest for their feature races.
At the Head of Harbour regatta at Lake Pupuke last month St Pauls won the boys' division with the most overall points.
The competing schools will be using the championships as a final testing station against some of their northern opposition (last year's Maadi Cup winner Wanganui Collegiate will not be at the regatta), before travelling to Twizel for the New Zealand secondary school championships on March 18.
The qualifiers for the Auckland secondary school championships have been found, with national senior boys champions Hillary College again looking formidable and Avondale College the No 1 seeds in the girls competition.
Last year's ASB Bank boys volleyballer of the year, Massey Satiu, is wearing two hats this year, as the team's coach and as a player.
Westlake Boys High School, winners of the junior North Island title in 2000, are also expected to be feature after finishing second in the Auckland premier boys competition.
Westlake also reached the semifinals in the Australian national tournament before Christmas.
Zone winners Papatoetoe High School, Penrose High School, Avondale College and St Pauls College all won through to the finals, pushing aside premier sides Wesley, Glenfield and Rangitoto College teams in the process.
But St Pauls pulled out yesterday to prepare for the Polynesian Festival. They were replaced by Manurewa's James Cook High School.
In the girls section, Avondale appear head and shoulders above their opposition. Second seeds James Cook High School look likely to be their only challengers.
The top three teams from the girls and boys competitions will qualify for the New Zealand secondary schools division one championships in Palmerston North from March 18-23.
Pukekohe High School emerged top at the Auckland secondary school one-day equestrian event with impressive performances in the cross-country and showjumping.
The team of Natasha Collett, Rowann Sutton, Stacy McKendry and Christa Boardman finished three points ahead of Kings College in the overall competition.
Auckland Diocesan were second in the dressage round behind Pukekohe, but finished third overall with 73.5 points.
New Zealand division one swimming championships, Christchurch, Mar 5-9.
Auckland: Auckland secondary schools boys athletics qualifiers, girls cricket, orienteering.
Auckland: Auckland secondary schools girls athletics qualifiers, Auckland secondary schools volleyball championships, Mar 7-9.
Counties Manukau: equestrian - one day event.
North Harbour secondary schools athletics championships.
North Island secondary schools rowing championships, Lake Karapiro, Mar 8-10.
Auckland: premier and grade cricket, tennis.
Auckland: premier teams golf, champion of champions tennis, senior one day softball tournament.
Auckland: senior touch rugby, champion of champions tennis, athletics.