The opening session of the RaboDirect Age Group Track Championships provided plenty of action as the country's best junior riders opening the four day event in style at Invercargill's Stadium Southland Velodrome today.
Auckland's Paige Paterson lived up to her favourites tag in the Under 19 Women's Sprint after qualifying in top spot with 11.861 seconds for the 200 metres and then winning through to the final comfortably where she will ride Canterbury's Victoria Steel for gold. Southland's Kate Dunlevey and Auckland's Nicola Webster will ride off for bronze.
In the Men's Sprint top qualifier Dylan Kennett also delivered with 10.797 in qualifying to narrowly miss Sam Webster’s Under 19 record by just over a tenth of a second. He will face Auckland's Zac Williams for gold while Chad Ellison (Auckland) and Harrison Perriam (Canterbury) will square off for bronze).
The Under 15 200m Derby provided spectacular racing and the finalists were found after rounds of heats and semi finals this morning. In the girls' competition the medals will be decided between Michaela Drummond (West Coast North Island), Natasha Dickison (Canterbury) and Southlanders Emma Cumming and Aly Doherty. The Boys contest will see West Coast North Island's Campbell Stewart start against three Southlanders - Hayden Strong, Josh Carpenter and Kain Bowles in the final.
A nasty crash two laps from home marred the first heat of the Under 17 Girls Scratch Race. Four riders fell nastily to blow the field to pieces. Finalists for tonight are Byony Botha, Olivia Miller, Shannon Grinter, Olivia Podmore, Julia Tarbotton, Charlotte Hand, Chloe Simpson, Emma Porrit, Kate Stewart, Laura Heywood, Frances Smith, Holly White, Holly Edmondston, Maxyna Cottam, Lydia Rippon and Sophie McMurdo. Kate Stewart looks a good shot at earning another National title - she dominated Heat 2 along with Laura Heywood and the two are good shots at contesting the medals this evening.
Perhaps the most impressive performances came from the top qualifiers in the Under 19 Individual Pursuits. Hayden McCormick was a class above the field in Men's qualifying. He missed Dylan Kennett's blistering national record by just 0.2 seconds, recording 3:20.640 to qualifying for the gold medal ride, over 6 seconds ahead of his opponent Tayla Harrison. Kennett who faced an arduous morning schedule with IP and Sprint qualifying, recorded 3:27.214 to finish third and will ride off against a hugely impressive Liam Aitcheson, whose 3:28 ride may have caught the eye of the Junior Worlds' selectors.
Otago's Alysha Keith went one better in the Women's qualifying, setting a new national record by 0.08 seconds with her time of 2:28.252. She will line up against West Coast North Island's Cassie Cameron for gold in what should be a great battle. Cameron was only 0.4 seconds adrift of Keith in qualifying. Auckland is guaranteed the bronze medal as Racquel Sheath and Georgina Wilson will ride off for third.
And the finalists in the Under 17 Boys Points race were also found this morning with the top 8 from the two morning heats lining up for the title tonight. Jack Ford, Tim Lund, Adam Bull, Luke Mudgway, Regan Gough, Kurt Standen, Jesse Crabb, Quinn Karwowski, Nick Kergozou, Michael Culling, Connor Stead, Charles Michel, Reon Sheath, Cameron Ford, Sam Dobbs and Josh Connor will be in business this evening.
Along with each of these finals, tonight's programme includes Time Trial finals for Under 17 Girls and the three Masters Men's categories along with the M2 and M3 Men Points Races and M1 Men Scratch Race.
Racing starts at 6pm. For full results and live text trackside updates click here.