Athletics: Burke after podium

Mount Aspiring College runner Samantha Burke will be looking to improve on last year's top-five placing and claim a podium finish at the national secondary schools cross-country championships in Rotorua tomorrow.

The 16-year-old came fifth in last year's national event in Dunedin, completing the 4km course in 15min 52sec.

She finished as the top New Zealander and came 10th overall in the Australian secondary schools cross-country championships in Melbourne in August, and came second in the 3000m at the national secondary school athletics championships in December.

Coach Val Burke said the athlete was eyeing a top-three finish in the senior girls' section in Rotorua.

Janus Staufenberg (17) and Gregor Findlay (15) have also had success of late and were hoping for strong performances in the 6km senior boys' race.

Staufenberg came 10th in the national club cross-country championships in Christchurch in August and fourth in the national secondary schools triathlon championships in Queenstown in April.

Findlay, who will be running his first national cross-country race in the senior boys' section, finished second in both the 1500m and 3000m at the South Island secondary school championships in Timaru in April.

He also came seventh in under-16 national cross country championships last year.

St Hilda's Collegiate is sending a six-strong team of Kate Higham, Georgia Mitchell, Suzie White, Olivia Gold, Cecilia Crooks and Sophie Sinclair to compete in the senior girls section.

Cameron Gardiner, Daniel Dicks and Zachary Mason will compete for King's High School in the senior boys section.

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