Auckland Girls Grammar sixth-former Kayla Cullen will leave for Australia with her New Zealand secondary school netball teammates next week free of the financial worries which threatened to scupper her trip.
Cullen, 16, was yesterday handed a cheque for $500 by Anthony Ford who, after learning of Cullen's plight from an item in last week's Herald, made the welcome donation.
Cullen, from a large single-parent family, was grateful for Ford's generous donation.
"It's great. It certainly has taken a load off my mind," she said.
AGGS director of sport Christo Peters added his thanks to Ford saying: "For many it sounds so small, but to Kayla and her mother it is huge and allows Kayla to do something she might not have been able to do.
"The school is absolutely thrilled. It is wonderful to know there are people out there who are prepared to help out in instances like this."
The fields for next month's Auckland secondary school cross country championships will be made up after a series of zonal races next week.
On Tuesday, North Harbour and West Auckland schools will race at Moire Park, Massey. The following day attention will centre on the Counties-Manukau schools who will line-up for competition at Wesley College. The series will be completed on Thursday with the central and eastern zone races being held for the first time at Lloyd Elsmore Park.
The top performers in all grades from the zone meets will contest the championships proper at St Kentigern College.
North Harbour schools hit the court running with four-from-four wins on the opening night of the new premier season.
In boy's action, Rangitoto, led by MVP/top points scorer Marko Alexander, scored a round-high 95 points in beating KBHS 95-77 in a keenly fought match. Christoph Fahrensohn top-scored for Kelston.
WBHS almost matched their neighbours in beating Northcote 93-42 with Luka Kablar their MVP/top scorer. Etham Tammler claimed both honours for Northcote.
In the most closely-contested game of the round, AGS, led by their MVP Patrice Bolstead, who was also their leading scorer, beat MAGS 59-58.
There were only four points in it as Dilworth beat Papakura 83-79. Papakura dominated for periods but Dilworth, on the back of a strong fourth quarter, sneaked home with Miah Maka leading their scoring with 35 points and Jeremiah Makavili named their MVP. Dennis Tawhiti top-scored for Papakura with 24 while Hiwai was their MVP.
Rangitoto were pressed all the way before getting home 89-86 in the feature girl's match against Massey.
Losing three key players in the last two minutes cost Massey - well-led by MVP/top scorer Stevee Theyers (22 points) - dearly as Rangitoto got up on the back of good shooting from Milke Nathan who scored 15. Niki Dukes was their MVP.
In another hard-fought encounter, Northcote, inspired by the play of Aroha Lawrence, shaded Manurewa 65-61.
AGGS, led by Tyla Tariau, were too strong for Avondale winning 76-44. Teesha Lavea and Jackie Petelo (named MVP), led the Avondale scoring.
With Aleesha Coulter their standout player, EGGS scored a comfortable 59-44 win over St Kentigern despite the best efforts of Jordan Hunter who led the St Kentigern scoring and took their MVP award.
More than 100 teams will go to the start line early on Sunday morning for the first of seven rounds in the popular and keenly-contested Auckland secondary schools team trials.
AGS and Diocesan will defend their senior titles with St Kentigern and WBHS expected to again be serious challengers in the boy's title chase while St Cuthbert's and EGGS, prominent last year, should again be in the hunt. The senior races are contested by teams of five with the first four to count while the juniors have four-strong teams with three to count. All races are over a 16km course to and from Teal Park on Auckland's waterfront. GOLF More than 100 of Auckland's many talented and low-handicap young golfers will be on the tee at the Grange early on Monday for the annual secondary schools strokeplay championship.
Heading the 84-strong field, with their handicaps ranging from plus-three to 7-2, are Todd Baek (Orewa College), Seve Ha (MRGS) and defending champion Scott McAlpine (St Kentigern).
The 24 girls are led by Rica Tse (Kristin), on a plus-1.5 and Larissa Eruera (St Cuthbert's) at plus-one.
It was far from plain sailing but MAGS kicked-off the defence of their senior A1 title with a 1-0 win over KBHS.
While the strong MAGS back four of Hayden Porter, making his debut, captain Jonathan Raj, towering man-of-the-match Adam Cowen and impressive Skye Parmenter were rarely threatened, the home side found the Kelston defence just as hard to breach.
Goalkeeper Max Tommy had a dream game stopping almost everything thrown at him.
The only goal came in the 39th minute when a long Porter cross picked out Mark Withers at the far post from where he chested the ball down before snapping a right-foot volley home.
Coaches, Kevin Fallon (MAGS) and Michael Caine were happy with what they saw and both paid credit to referee Mark Pieters. AGS too managed just the one goal in opening their account with a 1-0 home win over near neighbours St Peter's who held their place in the top grade following their promotion-relegation series with Pakuranga College who started their A2 campaign with a 2-0 away win over Howick.
King's made the most of home advantage to beat Macleans 2-0 while in the goalfest, WBHS made it four-from-four for the home teams with their 4-3 win over Rangitoto.
Only four schools have entered the premier girl's grade competition this year but numbers have held up in the boy's championship with 11 teams ready for action which begins this week.
Play in all grades is scheduled to start at 4pm at various venues - schools and squash clubs - on Friday.
The first upset of the senior 1A championship came when St Kentigern, spurred by a large home crowd, beat Kings 26-21 in a thriller.
It was the first time since the 2001 final that St Kentigern had prevailed over their long-time rivals.
Showing the benefit of four good pre-season games - all won - St Kentigern, making good use of the wind, dominated the first half with Stephen van Gruting kicking three penalties for an early 9-0 lead.
They then profited from two Kings errors which led to tries for captain Taylor Mosen and then their player of the day Jordan Clark and a handy halftime 26-0 lead. The visitors stormed back in the second spell with two early converted tries closing the gap to 26-14. Another late seven-pointer got them to within five at the finish.
St Kentigern are away to the champion Mt Albert Grammar XV this week while King's too face a tough test in playing De La Salle.
In a repeat of last season's final, MAGS had to battle all the way before edging De La Salle 22-21. De La Salle opened the scoring but the home side hit back with a try scored by newcomer Jordan Puletua for 5-5.
Steven Luatua dotted down a second MAGS try. Carl Perry added the conversion for a 12-5 lead which was cut back to 12-10 before halftime when De La Salle grabbed a second try.
Two long-range penalties early in the second half had the visitors out to a 16-12 lead before a Glen Potoi try from a quick tap put MAGS a point ahead. De La Salle again hit back to score a try for a 21-17 lead which they held until the last minute when MAGS won a penalty and were able to cross for a try, scored by Perry, with just seconds remaining.
Tamaki College stunned AGS with an early George Moala try. The home side hit back quickly with Omar Slaimankhel scoring the first of his two tries. After missing one, Alister Hitchcock kicked two penalties for an 11-7 halftime lead. Tries to Kara Pryor and Slaimankhel helped AGS take a 27-7 lead which was reduced to 27-14 with a second converted Tamaki try.
Tangaroa kicked their season off with a 30-15 win over St Peter's in a game which was closer than the score might suggest.
An early Jimmy Futi try, converted by Etuati Tongiatomai, gave the home side the lead but St Peter's hit back strongly with second-five Frances Saili outstanding in midfield. This domination led to a try in the corner. The visitors continued to press and were rewarded with a second unconverted try. Sparked into action, Tangaroa clawed their way back with Futi grabbing a good ball from loose-head prop Sione Sione to race clear and score against the run of play.
A third try, scored by James Aiese and converted by Tongiatomai took the hosts to 21-10 at halftime. Tongiatomai then booted three second half penalties for 30-10 before St Peter's grabbed a deserved late try.