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Fly away . . . Laura Preston wins the senior girls long jump at the St Kevin's College athletic sports last week. PHOTO: ANNA TAYLOR

HAWKE FLIES AWAY
Look, you can’t get too down in the dumps about North Otago missing out on a Hawke Cup cricket challenge this year.

We have been spoiled by this golden era to the point where, sure, it feels like a bit of a failure not to get a chance to win the coveted trophy for a third time.

But challenging for the Hawke Cup is a privilege, not a right. Some very good cricket teams have dipped out in the past, and North Otago can be added to that list.

You certainly can’t blame the bowlers.

In four qualifying games, North Otago dismissed teams for 92, 73, 77, 250, 55, 48, 156 and 122, and North Otago bowlers claimed 80 wickets at an average of 10.91. Astonishing.

Francois Mostert led the way with 40 wickets at 8.35, including an eight-for, a seven-for, a six-for and two five-fors. He really has been a gift to this province.

But – and forgive me for sounding like a broken record – WE NEED MORE RUNS.

North Otago’s team scores were 97, 267 for nine declared, 175, 111 for six, 175, 136 and 118 for nine, and Nathan Smith’s epic unbeaten 133 in the opening game was the only time a batsman passed 50.

CRUNCH TIME
North Otago club cricket is getting to the squeaky-bum part of the season.

Senior games were abandoned due to rain on Saturday, leaving just two rounds to play before the semifinals.

Points are: Albion 45, Union 45, Waitaki Boys’ High School 35, Oamaru-SKC 25, Valley 15.

MAKING A RACQUET

Girl power . . . Cousins Rebecca (15, left) and Sarah Dodd (17) played well for the North Otago junior tennis team in Dunedin at the weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

More good results for the North Otago junior tennis players, who did well at the quadrangular tournament in Dunedin at the weekend.

In the 16s, rock star Mackenzie Phillips won all her games, and she and Keidah Bungard were undefeated in mixed doubles.

The North Otago 14s celebrated a rare win over South Canterbury, and Jake Gilchrist showed his improvement to win four of eight games.

Emma Fox was the stand-out in the 12s team, winning five of her eight games, while Louis Belt, Bruce Kaufana and Joel Wilson showed promise in the 10s competition.

North Otago’s senior representative players are in action this weekend, while the North Otago Open is on March 3-4.

ON YER BIKE
The Mountain Biking North Otago summer series starts this Sunday at the Oamaru Reservoir, catering for riders of all ages and abilities.

Subsequent rounds are on March 11 and March 18.

WHEELY HAPPY
Proud Waitaki Boys’ High School old boy Dylan Kennett will be aiming high on the Gold Coast in April.

Kennett has been selected in the New Zealand cycling squad – in the team pursuit – for the Commonwealth Games.

It will be a second appearance at the Commonwealth Games for the rider, who won bronze in Glasgow in 2014 and a world title a year later, and competed in the omnium at the Rio Olympics.

CHALLENGING TIMES
Oamaru-based multisporter Dougal Allan missed out on a third straight Challenge Wanaka crown, but that was not entirely unexpected given the change to the elite competition.

Allan was gunning for a threepeat at the event but the fly in the ointment was the switch from a full ironman to a half ironman for the professional field to incorporate the Triathlon New Zealand middle-distance championships.

He finished fifth in the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run in a time of 4hr 3.09min, 5min 42sec behind winner Javier Gomez.

“I was a bit gutted when I finished, but with a bit of perspective, I am satisfied,” Allan told the Oamaru Mail in an email.

He is now in Taupo, preparing for the New Zealand Ironman on March 3.

Loads of other North Otago people tackled Challenge Wanaka.

In the full ironman, Benedict Yanzick placed third in the 20-29 age group in 11hr 16 min, Caroline Reid placed second in the women’s 20-29 age group in 12hr 12min 25sec, and Mark Esselink placed 11th in the 50-59 age group in 13hr 21min 40sec.

In the half-ironman, Andrea Ludemann was 11th in the 45-49 age group in 7hr 22min 44sec, and Luke Murdoch was 31st in the 30-34 age group in 6hr 10min 41sec.

Various teams and juniors also competed. A highlight was Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil Jakob Cunningham placing third in the 11-12 years challenge.

HALLELUJAH
What more can you say about the Oamaru Swim Club?

The Narcis Gherca-coached squad shone again at the Makos festival in Dunedin last week, finishing the top junior club in the South Island for a second straight year.

That is a spectacular effort, and the coach, the kids and the parents should be so proud.

A hat tip, too, to the Oamaru rowers who performed well at the national championships.

GOD HELP ME
Did you know Wyatt Crockett has 187 Super Rugby caps?
WYATT CROCKETT.

hayden.meikle@oamarumail.co.nz