Hawke’s Bay juniors the whizzes of Oz

Category: General  |  Date: Thu 11 Oct 2018  |  Author:

Hawke’s Bay juniors the whizzes of Oz

What do you do if you are not picked for the New Zealand Schools team? For four
Hawke’s Bay Orienteering Club members the answer was obvious . . . go and
compete anyway; see if you measure up.

Tessa Burns, Amy Culham, Ronan Lee and Will Tidswell are just back from South
Australia where last week’s orienteering carnival embraced the Australian national
championships, the South Australian championships, the Heaps Good Triadelaide
Series and the Southern Cross Schools Challenge between the New Zealand
Schools team and the Australian Schools state teams.

This last competition has been won every year since its inception by New Zealand.

Burns, Culham and Lee missed out on selection following trials held in June.
Tidswell (16) was a member of the New Zealand U21 team to Junior World
Championships in Hungary this year and along with the other JWOC team members
was not considered for the Australian Schools gig.

While ‘measuring up’ was not all it was about for the foursome, measure up they did.

Tessa Burns (15) scored no fewer than six wins over the carnival with her biggest
’scalp’ being the W16 long distance title at the Australian championships. Also
satisfying was her win in the South Australian championships W16 middle distance.

And if Burns did have an eye on how she matched up against the selected New
Zealand Schools team then the Australian Schools long distance championships was
her moment. Running the same course as the selected team her run would have
placed her third against all the Australians and ahead of all the New Zealand
selected team. In all, Burns made the podium with seven of her eight runs.

Ronan Lee (16) is another who has won New Zealand secondary school titles but is
yet to catch the selector’s eye for national honours. Lee ran most of his races on this
trip in the M20 Elite grade. His seventh in the Australian championships long was his
best finish and a fine run.

Like Burns, Lee had the chance to run the same courses as the selected school
teams in two events. At the Australian Schools long Lee’s time was worth 8th in their
event and put him ahead of three of the selected Kiwis, while his individual run on
the relay course was better than three of the NZ team.

Amy Culham (16) is the ’new kid on the block’ and a very rapid improver over the last
twelve months or so. Her body of work, running W16, at the Australian
championships was impressive: 5th in the sprint, 8th in the middle, 7th in the long.
And running the same course as the selected teams at the Australian Schools long,
Culham’s run was worth third in the schools’ event and better than two of the
selected New Zealanders.

While Will Tidswell is very much a ‘known quantity’ in New Zealand and Australian
orienteering, Tessa Burns, Ronan Lee and Amy Culham would have been far less
recognised. Their runs in South Australia over the last fortnight will surely have put
them on a lot of people’s radar and we will certainly hear much more of them in the

As a JWOC runner, Will Tidswell had nothing to prove. He picked up the Australian
M16A middle distance title on the trip, and runner up positions in the Australian sprint
and with the NZ Pinestars M20 Elite relay team. Running the same course as the
schools his long and relay runs would have beaten all the NZ selected team.

The Kiwis once again won the Southern Cross Schools Challenge but, as with the
Duke of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo, it was a damned close-run thing.
Orienteering New Zealand may need to revisit their policy of omitting JWOC runners
like Tidswell if New Zealand’s winning run in the Challenge is to continue.

 HB 4 at airport

Photo: Fiona Goff
Will, Tessa, Amy and Ronan arrive back on the Shaky Isles after shaking up the