WAIRARAPA constantly punches above its weight in sport and you can understand why with even a cursory glance at the finalists for the 2015-16 Wairarapa Times-Age sports awards of the year.
The number of nominations over the 13 categories reached record proportions and the cirriculum vitae of individuals, teams, clubs and schools in the reckoning for the major prizes are exceptional. So impressive, that they are confidently expected to lead to a best-ever response from the public when they are given the opportunity to make their choices through voting forms, the first of them appearing on Saturday.
The category winners will be announced at a function to be held at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park on Wednesday, June 1, and they will all be eligible for the supreme champion award, won last year by world title-winning power lifter Brett Gibbs, who is now resident overseas. Also announced will be the latest recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The finalists are:
SENIOR SPORTS PERSONALITY: Alison Andrews-Paul achieved the qualifying mark for the 800m at the world junior track and field championships to be held in Poland in July. She was sixth in the open women's 800m at the Australian championships and won the junior women's 800m and 1500m titles at the New Zealand championships.
Graeme Butcher represented New Zealand at the world 24-hour championships, was the overall winner of the Triple Peaks 47km endurance running event and placed fifth in his age group at the national cross-country championships. Tim Priest was captain of the Wairarapa-Bush rugby side which made it to the semifinals of the Heartland championship Meads Cup competition and was selected in the New Zealand Heartland squad. Ben van Woerkom was part of the New Zealand under-23 Future Black Sticks hockey team, the Capital team which won the national men's hockey league and the Dalefield side which won the Wellington premier division title.
YOUTH SPORTS PERSONALITY: Vinnie Capes represented New Zealand at the Commonwealth powerlifting championships and came away with three silver and one bronze medals. He beat the NZ record in the squat by 7.5kg. Dylan Drysdale represented New Zealand at the world karting championships and placed 17th in his grade. He is the 2015 national champion in his class, having the title sewn up with two events still to go. Kate Sims is a member of Swimming New Zealand's High Performance programme, a member of the Central Districts girls under-15 cricket team and winner of five events at the Wairarapa intercollegiate athletics meet. Max Spencer qualified to represent New Zealand in the world cross-country series, won gold medals in middle distance events at the Wellington secondary schools and junior track and field champs and was chosen in the New Zealand track team for the 2016 Oceania Games.
JUNIOR SPORTS PERSONALITY: Siena Cockburn was a medallist at the national swimming champs, a Wellington record breaker at athletics and is the North Island high jump title holder in her age group. Jack Hunter was selected in the New Zealand age group athletics track team for a transtasman meet and was placed in the 300m, 1500m and 4 by 400m relay. Jake Jonas finished the rep cricket season with 371 runs at an average of 74.2 and captained the Masterton Intermediate team which won the Wairarapa Milo Cup competition. Kosta Mills won two silver and one bronze medal at the Wellington regional track and field champs and one silver and one bronze at the North Island Colgate Games.
DISABLED SPORTS PERSONALITY: Vanessa Connell has starred in para dressage equestrian events andDon't miss out on voting for awards
SOUGHT AFTER: The trophy they are all after -- the supreme champion award.
competed at the Horse of the Year Show in March. Josh Taylor won his grade at the Wellington regional primary and intermediate schools cross-country championships last year and won two gold medals at the 2016 North Island secondary school championships. Keelan Ward finished fourth in the ambulant grade at the Oceania open track and field championships and was selected to represent NZ at the Asia-Oceania Paralympic champion ships in Dubai. He was a bronze medallist at the national secondary school championships.
ADMINISTRATOR: Kylie Baron, wife of Senior Coach of the Year finalist Bryce, is the vice-president of the World Muaythai Council New Zealand which oversees all aspects of the sport in this country. She also organises the Battle of the Bush fights in Wairarapa. Kath Houliston has worked tirelessly towards building a successful netball programme at Wairarapa College. Her work was recognised nationally when she and her committee won the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council Innovation Award in November. Sam Rossiter-Stead has been heavily involved in the administration of several sports, including Wairarapa Cricket, Heartland Wairarapa football, Masterton Swimming Club, Wairarapa-Bush under-18 rugby and Basketball New Zealand. Jorge Sandoval is a cycle race organiser whose drive and organisational abilities has brought major men's and women's international road cycling events to Wairarapa.
COACH: Bryce Baron is head coach for the Fortitude Thaiboxing Club and has tutored several champions. He coaches youngsters aged 6 upwards and his coaching style is unique in that he likes to train alongside his athletes and lead by example. Grant Brewster and Kerry Hare jointly coached the Wairarapa College boys first XI hockey team to win the Wellington secondary schools premier division title and place seventh in the Rankin Cup. John Quinn coached two powerlifters who made the New Zealand team for the Commonwealth championships and is also a highly-credentialled fields event coach. Willie Schaefer coached the Dalefield senior men's hockey team to their first title success in the Wellington premier division competition.
VOLUNTEER: Michelle Beaver has voluntarily organised and coached sports teams at St Patrick's School for 20-plus years and is also heavily involved in the Marist Rugby Club. Mark Elliott is a life member of the Wairarapa Cricket Association and the Red Star Cricket Club and was voted 2014-15 Central Districts Cricket Umpires Association Umpire of the Year. Farry McLeod has given remarkable service to rugby, marked by being awarded life membership of the Tuhirangi and Greytown clubs and the Wairarapa-Bush union. Patrick Rimene has spent countless hours coaching and administering the sport of Waka Ama and was named Lotto's Sport Maker of the Year.
SENIOR SPORTS TEAM: Dalefield Men's Hockey team made history when they became the first Wairarapa team to win the Wellington premier division men's hockey competition. The Masterton Rifle Club team won all but one of the team shoots they entered at their national championships and also made a major impact in individual events. The Wairarapa-Bush Rugby side made the semifinals of the premier section in the 2015 Heartland championship, the Meads Cup. The Wairarapa United Men's Football side were runners-up in the Central League competition, the highest grade below the national league.
YOUTH SPORTS TEAM: The Rathkeale College First XI Boys Football Team are the Wellington division three champions, earned a top-six finish at their national tourney and eight of their team were selected in the Heartland Wairarapa youth side. The Rathkeale College Colts Rugby Team won their grade in the Manawatu secondary schools competition for the second year running and beat Hutt International, Wanganui Collegiate and Lindisfarne in interschool games. Wairarapa College First XI Boys Hockey team won the Wellington premier division secondary schoolboys hockey title and were seventh at the country's top secondary schools tourney, the Rankin Cup (one to come).
JUNIOR SPORTS TEAM: The Masterton Intermediate Boys First XI Cricket team won the Wairarapa Milo Cup competition and the Super Sport title over Palmerston North and Wanganui schools. The Masterton Intermediate First XV Rugby team had its most successful season ever in 2015, winning eight, drawing one and losing one of their 10 games. The Wairarapa Year 7 Green Development Cricket team had a gruelling schedule of 11 games and had an impressive win-loss record in averaging 178 runs per game as against 118 for their opposition.
SPORTS CLUB: Athletics and Cycling Masterton are heavily involved in the administration of two sports, athletics and cycling. They organise from 50 to 60 events a year which take in about 3000 participants. Athletics Wairarapa runs its own junior academy coaching programme. Competitively their members have achieved outstanding success at regional and national level over the last 12 months. Dalefield Hockey Club is the oldest hockey club in Wairarapa, Last season their premier men's team won the Wellington 7-a-side and 11-a-side competitions, their top women's team won the Wairarapa division one title and the juniors, the Tornados, won their grade. Wairarapa Cricket Umpires Association is a small organisation which has remarkable success. Four of their members are on the Central Districts "A" panel and they umpire cricket on a voluntary basis, a move which keeps down costs for both clubs and Wairarapa Cricket.
SCHOOL OF THE YEAR
SECONDARY: Chanel College, Rathkeale College and Wairarapa College.
INTERMEDIATE AND PRIMARY: Kahutara School, Lakeview School and St Mary's School.