The Wanganui Amateur Roller Skate Club skaters had an excellent week at the 2018 NZ Speed Skating Nationals, held in Timaru from January 3-7.

Despite the distance travelled by the group, the Wanganui club pushed hosts South Canterbury, who fielded twice their number, all the way in the quest for the United Cup for most combined points overall.

Wanganui won 35 titles over the course of the five days of competition.

Spokesman Ken Smith said Andrew Jones brought home Wanganui's first ever Senior Men's titles with brilliant wins in the road 20km, 10km points race and the marathon, as well as taking out the prestigious George Hales Memorial 10km Indoors.


"The indoor win was a spectacular race which saw a photo finish with Mark McCormack of Dunedin."

The outdoor sprint races were dominated by current World Sprint champion Simon Albrecht of Germany, who was holidaying in New Zealand at the time and persuaded to make a last minute surprise entry.

"Albrecht had too much class for the locals and shattered the 17.146s national 200m TT record with a time of 16.389s," said Smith.

Timaru skater and Wanganui Rivercity Tour Champion Dale Christofferson was second, with Jones third.

In the Juvenile Boys grade, Drew Brennan was the star of nationals – winning all his class races and breaking four national records on his way to the overall title.

Brennan was also awarded the Jo Bright Trophy for the most outstanding male skater at the Championships.

With clubmates Chase Morpeth and Josh Valentine, Brennan also won the Junior Boys road relay and with Lucas Hodgson, who was substituting for Valentine, he won the indoor Junior Relay.

"Valentine was a quiet achiever at the championships. He finished a close second to Brennan in all the races he contested," said Smith.

"In several events where Brennan set new records Valentine was also well under the old record."

Valentine also did very well in the Under 15 21km half marathon, as at 10-years-old he finished a strong second to the much older Kaylum McAuley (South Canterbury), with Morpeth third.

Renee Teers sweeped all the road races in the Intermediate Women's grade, while she picked up a close bronze to Timaru's Leah MacDonald and Rivercity Tour champion Ariana Snook in the Open 20km.

Teers then outsprinted MacDonald – often called New Zealand's fastest woman – to come second in the 42km marathon behind Snook.

"Indoors, Teers won the 800m Intermediate title but had a fight on her hands in the other races, sometimes being the lone challenger in a field packed with South Canterbury talent," said Smith.

Wanganui's Monique Cleeve won a string of bronze medals in the Senior Ladies, including scoring a great third in the Intermediate/Senior 10km points race.

Cleeve also came fourth in the 20km and Marathon.

The Senior Ladies team of Teers, Cleeve and Krystine Davies was a strong second place in the Senior Road Relay.

Morpeth also entered his first year of Junior Boys events and was outstanding, Smith said.

"Against considerably older boys he won the Indoor 300m TT and the 800m.

"He also scored a strong second in the 5000m Points on the Road as well as a string of other podium finishes."

However, the highlight was his sixth placing in the Open 10km George Hailes Memorial, where he raced adults and finished just shy of the leaders while ahead of several senior skaters.

The veteran Davies, 42km world champion, again dominated the Masters Ladies class – winning all the races with ease and breaking several of her own records.

Debra Smith showed great form in her nationals debut, with a string of silver medals behind Davies while being involved in a close podium battle overall with Nelson's Sarah Stack.

Wanganui's other stand out performer was Gabriella (Gabby) Valentine, who was overall Primary Girls champion by winning all her races and setting several new records in the process.

Mickey Zhang scored podiums in all the Primary Boys races and finally took the gold in the 200m Indoor race to nail another national title.

In the Juvenile Girls, Keira Hodgson had a string of bronze medals finishes, behind Blenheim's Erin Green and Nelson's Mikaela MacDonald.

Smith said Keira Brennan was strong on her first year in Juvenile and debutante Tazia Parker was outstanding in that huge age grade field by always threatening the podium.

"Avalee Laird, who has come a long way in a very short time in the sport, showed she has real potential and Victoria Smith battled all the way through the championships."

Xander Laird improved with every race on debut and will be a prospect when he has some more miles under his skates.

Nicole Valentine achieved a personal best performance for sixth in the incredibly strong Junior Girls 200TT field and picked up a relay gold in the Indoor 1500m mixed team relay.