Sheridan leads top Nelson performances at NZ Schools Cross Country

Kalani  Sheridan’s silver medal performance at Saturday’s New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Cross Country Championships in Dunedin launched a firestorm of top performances from Nelson area runners.
Sheridan, a year 11 student at Nayland College, carved through the junior men’s field and the muddy and hilly course at the Gladfield Golf Club.  He worked his way up from 12th place at the kilometre mark of the two-lap, 4km course and moved into second up the final hill.  He pulled away from third-place finisher  Samuel Tanner of Bethlehem College over the final 400m and gained rapidly on Hamilton Boys High School’s Isaiah Priddey, coming up just five seconds short in 13min52sec.
Sheridan improved 46 spots on his finish from last year.
Max Meffan finished 12th in 14min18sec and led Nelson College to the bronze medal in the three-person and six-person team races.  Wellington College won both team races and Hamilton was second.
Nelson College’s Nick Matthews finished 15th place and was followed by Sam Mead in 26th, Jordan Newsome in  52nd, Ben Allan in 56th, and Cody Beaumont in 63rd.
Jared Lautenslager of Garin College and Sam Mackay-Wright of Nelson College cracked the top 10 in the senior boys 6km race. Lautenslager and Mackay-Wright ran in the second pack for much of the first half of the race that had 218 entrants before surging away and passing several runners.
Lautenslager and Mackay-Wright worked and battled with each other until Lautenslager pulled away in the final 500m to a fifth-place finish in  20min46sec. It was the best-ever placing by a Garin student in the senior race and the best-ever placing by a Year 12 student from the National Academy of Distance Running.
Mackay-Wright’s sixth-place effort in 20min52sec culminated from an early season goal of qualifying for the New Zealand team for the Australia Cross Country Championships.  The top 12 finishers in the senior boys and girls races stamped their ticket to Melbourne.
Mackay-Wright achieved his goal despite falling twice, including 500m from the finish, on the muddy turns and then collapsing in the finish chute.
Conal Wilson of Auckland Grammar won the senior boys race in 20min10sec.  His brothers Declan and Finn were also past winners of the senior boys race.
Nelson College finished  ninth in the three-person and seventh in the six-person senior boys teams competition.  William Wallace placed 44th, Luke Kelly 77th , Angus Wemyss 86th, Thomas Littleworth 98th, and Oceon Grady 103rd.
Bridie Edwards of Waimea College finished 10th in her first-ever senior girls race, covering the 4km course in 16min15sec. Her teammate Sami Jordan finished only 14 seconds behind in 17th place.
Beth Versey of Nelson College for Girls placed 22nd and her teammate Sophie Smith was 24th.  Smith had surgery to fix a broken bone in her foot in early March and missed eight weeks of running. Still, she improved 20 places on last year.
Charlotte Tucker led Nelson College with a 19th place finish in 12min48sec over the 3km Year 9 girls race.  Her teammate Breena Gibbons placed 35th.
Fletcher Pickworth of Motueka High School finished 19th in the Year 9 boys 3km race in 11min30sec. Ben Baker and Kaleb Knight placed 48th and 49th, respectively.