ORANGE will have at least two representatives in the New South Wales All Schools state triathlon team to compete at Nationals in April.
Seniors star Luke Chalker and junior girls gun Lauren Kerwick both placed sixth in their respective categories at last week’s NSW All Schools triathlon at Penrith’s International Regatta Centre, qualifying both for nationals.
Connor Whiteley is first reserve for the junior boys state team after finishing seventh at Penrith, one spot outside automatic selection.
All three shone bright from a large Orange contingent which included athletes in the Melissa Ashton-Garard trained HyPER Hy Performance Endurance Racing team as well as a large contingent representing Kinross.
Ashton-Garard, a former professional, was blown away with the efforts of her squad, particularly those who blitzed it to make nationals.
Ashton-Garard said Kerwick overcame a crash in the bike-run transition to finish sixth, while Chalker struggled with the transition from the swim to the bike, with a troublesome helmet taking a chunk of time out of the senior’s race.
Whitelely was also impressive in his run, making up the necessary time to impress after a slow start in the swim.
The HyPER coach praised her athletes’ performance when faced with adversity.
“I was pretty impressed with (Kerwick), it’s only her third or fourth triathlon. She’s going to keep improving,” Ashton-Garard said, adding a foot injury restricted the swim star’s preparation.
“For her to hold on after her preparation and crash, it was remarkable.”
Ashton-Garard said Chalker’s sixth-place finish in the 750m swim, 20km bike leg and 5km run senior triathlon was based on a “terrific” swim.
“It was the best swim I’ve seen Luke complete,” she said.
“And Connor Whitelely, he had his work cut out for him after the swim but he stuck strong mentally and the rest of his race was clinical. His run is always very impressive.”
Ashton-Garard extended a special mention to both HyPER members Kyle Ostini and Tom Kotzur.
Following a disappointing triathlon, Ostini showed great encouragement for the team’s other representatives while Kotzur, suffering from illness and unable to compete in the individual races on day one, assisted juniors throughout transition.
“That’s what it’s all about,” she said.
“They both showed tremendous sportsmanship.”
For Kinross, the school’s triathlon teams dominated the Combined Independent Schools leg of the Penrith-based all schools carnival.
Steph Coates, Sophie Hay-Mackenzie and Kelsey Gray finished third in the junior girls division, Whiteley, Jack Bilton and Josh Jones placed second in the junior boys while senior boys Chris Henderson-Matushka, Tom Kotzur and Luke Chalker finished third.