Classy all round Whanganui athlete Rebecca Baker has just added more impressive results to her CV.
The 16-year-old Whanganui High School student finished an outstanding fourth at the Australian Cross Country Championships raced on the Malmeny Golf Course on the Queensland Sunshine Coast.
Baker ran the race of her life finishing 4th in a very strong under 18 field The race was won by Queenslander Nikita Moore who stopped the clock at 14 minutes 40 seconds from Keely Small (ACT) in 14:55. Both athletes have strong track and cross country credentials.
Kirstie Rae, who earlier in the month won the New Zealand under 18 title, was the first New Zealander home in third position only 4 seconds behind Small, with the Greg Fromont-coached Baker only four seconds in arrears for fourth and 20.04 seconds from the winner.
The New Zealand team took the team title with Aimee Fergusson finishing in 7th and the New Zealand Schools champion Hannah O'Connor in 8th. Two days later Baker ran with them again in the winning New Zealand under 18 relay team (5x2km legs).
Baker showed good form in her lead up to the Australian championships when finishing second in the in the Under 18 women's grade of the New Zealand Cross Country Champs in Wellington two weeks ago.
The talented all round sporting star is also a nationally recognised hockey player and was one of two WHS students selected for national duty earlier this month.
She was selected for the New Zealand Under 18 women's development camp to be held December 15-21, while school mate Jordan Cohen was selected for the men's camp. Last season Baker was in the strong Central Hockey U18 women's side that won the age group national title.
She is now preparing to represent her school again in the girls hockey 1st X1 to play Tournament Week competition in Pukekohe next week, but is also in training for the national cross country championships in Dunedin in December. Fortunately, the hockey camp and national cross country dates do not clash.
"I really didn't know what to expect in Australia because it was my first international event - I would have been happy to finish in the top 30," Baker said on Wednesday.
"Greg (croach Fromont) didn't really know what to expect either and just told me to go out there and have fun, enjoy it, so that's what I did and I couldn't believe it when I came home fourth. I felt really good during the run and thoroughly enjoyed it."
While she is a class act in athletics, Baker much prefers hockey and her ultimate goal is to become a Black Stick.
Unlike many other sports, hockey and track and field or even cross country probably complement each other rather than hinder.
"They probably go hand-in-hand with running giving me strength and stamina for hockey. I'm happy to do both while they don't clash, but hockey is definitely my preferred sport - I'd love to become a Black Stick," Baker said.