Whiteley and Kerwick to test the best at national school championships

ORANGE’S Connor Whiteley and Lauren Kerwick are familiar with the School Sport Australia triathlon championships.

The pair will line up at the event this week for their second year in the national schools competition.

They qualified for this year’s championships after their results at the NSW All Schools event, where Kerwick was third in the intermediate girls’ event, and Whiteley was fourth for the intermediate boys.

Their coach, Melissa Ashton-Garard, said this year’s event in Bendigo will be more challenging for the duo than the 2013 competition.

“Lauren and Connor both went to nationals last year,” Ashton-Garard said.

“That time they were juniors, in Years 7 and 8. This year they’re in intermediate, Years 9 and 10. They’re both in the bottom age.

“I’ve said, ‘Let’s just race to your potential’.”

Last year, Kerwick went on to win the junior girls’ national title.

Moving up an age division will be tougher for the Orange High student who has also been battling injury.

The intermediate race includes a 600m swim, 16km ride and 4km run.

Kerwick and Kinross Wolaroi School’s Whiteley have shown good form leading up to the national event, with the teenagers winning the Orange Cycle and Triathlon Club’s 2014 club championships.

Ashton-Garard said they weren’t setting goals for the pair to win.

Instead, she wanted to see them reach their potential.

“I expect them to execute each element as best they can,” she explained.

“It’s just another race. It’s no further than they normally compete. It’s still swim, bike, run.”

The duo are two of the five Western Region Academy of Sport athletes who will line up at the national championships.

Kinross Wolaroi School’s Luke Chalker, who is from Cowra, will compete in the senior boys’ event, Hartley’s Emily Watts, who goes to school in Bathurst, will contest the junior girls’ race, and Young’s Edwina Hobson will line up in the senior girls’ event.

Ashton-Garard is also the WRAS head coach and is thrilled to have five athletes qualify for the Australian Championships.

“I’m rapt to have five kids racing. This region is not a traditional triathlon hot spot, so this is a really great achievement,” she said.

“I’m really pleased with how they’ve been going. All the kids have been very dedicated in all aspects of their training.”

The SSA individual triathlon championships will be held tomorrow in Bendigo, while James  Sheahan’s Jack Parr, Jordan Emerson and Max Stewart will compete in Friday’s relay event.

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