Newcastle track and field coach Pete Gentz believes the under-13 girls sprints will be among the most hotly contested events at the Hunter regional championships at Glendale on February 11 and 12.
Around 1200 young athletes from across the Hunter will converge on Hunter Sports Centre at Glendale for the two-day regional carnival.
Competition will range from under 10s to under 17s. The first two placings in each event automatically qualify for the state championships, to be held at Homebush next month. But the next best eight performances across the state will also earn selection.
“That under-13 group of girls in the Hunter are the quickest in the 100m and 200m in the state and I expect it will be the only age group in all of the [eight] state venues where possibly five will get through on times,” Gentz said.
“The first two automatically qualify and the rest are determined on time. Hunter has the fastest girls in that age group in the state. Last year we got five through so I’m expecting the same because they are all getting faster.
“I’m pretty confident that the regional record for both the 100m and 200m will be broken.”
Among those will be 13-year-old Paige Worley from Wallsend Little Athletics Club.
Paige has only been doing athletics since under 10s but has already shown plenty of promise.
She will compete in the under-13 girls’ 100m, 200m, 400m, 4 x 100m relay and possibly a hurdles event at the regional titles.
Paige has already been to state three times but for different events each time.
“The first time was for 70m, the second time was for the 100m and last year I went for the 200m, so I don’t really know what my pet event is yet,” she said.
“I’m just hoping to make it to state and to get some PBs [personal best times].”
It will be mate against mate in her age group with five under-13 girls training together under Gentz, who coaches out of Glendale for Tiger Fitness and Training.
Paige trains alongside Tiahna Skelton (Wallsend), Port Stephens pair Grace Hewitt and Jacy Carter, and Millie Moore (Adamstown-New Lambton).
They will find some tough competition in Macquarie Hunter’s Milly Stephenson, who last year was the NSW All Schools 100m and 200m champion and placed third in the 200m at the Australian All Schools championships.
Another young gun to watch for is Singleton’s Regan Champion, who travels to Glendale twice a week for specialist training.
He is in the under-12 boys’ 400m, 1500m, 60m hurdles and high jump and is the defending 1500m regional champion.