Being the youngest competitors did not stop Geraldine High School pupils winning the title at a fencing competition this month.

Three out of four Geraldine High School teams of two placed first, second and third at the Aorangi Regional Young Farmer fencing competition, during the Winchester show on March 3.

Competitors, who had to be under the age of 31 to enter, included Mitchell Sowden (16), Patrick Foley-Smith (16), Ben Chambers (16), Jakob Stachurski (15), Olly Dowding (16), Oakley Murphy (16), Blake Roberts (16) and Jacob Price (16).

Olly Dowding (left) and Oakley Murphy compete in the Aorangi Regional Young Farmer fencing competition at the Winchester Show earlier this month.
Olly Dowding (left) and Oakley Murphy compete in the Aorangi Regional Young Farmer fencing competition at the Winchester Show earlier this month.

They worked in teams of two. Mitchell and Patrick took first place to secure a place in the finals, while Ben and Jakob followed, one point behind, to secure second place.

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Olly and Oakley were placed third.

Their efforts have impressed local fencing contractor Al Johnston - a former Geraldine High School pupil - who passed his skills on to the boys in preparation for the competition, along with Cody Clarke-Wills and Ed Body.

However, the boys' success was not surprising, he said.

''They were doing pretty well, they were good students.

''I was pleased for them that they did as good as they did.''

Mr Johnston said there were no particular elements to fencing they excelled in more than others, but for their age and the quality of work, he was impressed.

''It was just good to see kids of that age coming through in the industry, because the industry has an issue at the moment finding staff.''

The boys were taught various components of fencing throughout the term, but never had a chance to build an entire fence before the competition.

Patrick put their success down to the support they had in preparation.

''We were well prepared because we had contractors that came in and showed us what to do.''

Geraldine High School head of primary industries Sarah Foley-Smith also credited the contractors for helping youngsters succeed.

''They basically lived here and they were basically working till midnight in their own jobs to make up for the time they helped us.''

Mitchell and Patrick will go on to compete in the grand final in July, during the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest in Invercargill.

Seven teams will compete.
''So now our training really starts,'' Mrs Foley-Smith said.
''It will be a tough competition because some of them will do fencing for a living.''
Mr Johnston and Mr Clarke-Wills will continue working with the pupils to help them prepare.
-By Alexia Johnston
Central Rural Life