They’ve taken on the best in the state and now Tamworth’s Emma Klasen and Mitchell Henderson, and Quirindi’s Lacie Quigley are ready to race the best in the country.
The trio flew out on Thursday bound for Adelaide where they will be representing NSW at the School Sport Australia Track and Field Championships.
Klasen and Quigley are no strangers to competing at the national level, nor the nationals podium for that matter with both regularly finishing among the medals.
For Henderson though it is a new experience.
The Farrer student earned his place on the NSW team by claiming silver in the 14yrs 200m hurdles at the NSW All Schools Championships back in October.
Still fine-tuning the hurdling craft, Henderson is grateful for the assistance and expertise of Klasen’s mum Colleen, who has been helping him with his training since the All Schools.
“I’ve been working on my speed and stamina,” he said.
“Getting faster and holding it for longer.”
He was “blowing out” a bit towards the end of his races.
Being his first time competing at the national event and the fact that he will be racing up an age, Henderson doesn’t have too many expectations.
He just wants to “take it all in” and just “run as fast as I can”.
Klasen will lace up the spikes for the 100m and 200m and is “feeling pretty fast” and “ready to go” as she looks to reclaim her standing as the top sprinter for her age in the country.
After missing the corresponding championships last year with a back injury, she also lost her 200m national (club) title earlier in the year.
But fresh from winning gold in the 100m and silver in the 200m at the state titles shes is back to her best and hoping to make the final for both sprint events.
The Calrossy student also has her eyes on a bigger prize.
“I want to run another qualifier for the 200m for the Youth Olympics and get one for the 100m,” she said.
She will be top age for the under 16s but knows it is going to be tough to medal.
“Usually there’s about eight girls in the final and we’re all running the same times,” she said.
To try and give her the edge she has been really working hard on her technique, and starts, with her coach Michael Dooley, who she trains with via correspondence.
“My starts are probably the weakest spot in my race,” Klasen admitted.
Not ideal for a sprinter but Dooley has helped her a lot with that, she said.
Third at the nationals last year, Quigley goes in as the top-ranked NSW runner after winning the 14yrs 1500m All Schools title, and is pretty happy with her preparation.
“I’ve been getting stronger since All Schools. I’ve had some pretty strong times in training,” the Quirindi High student said.
She is hoping that will yield a new personal best.
“I’d like to break from the 40’s into the 30s,” she said.
The nationals have already been a successful one for the region’s athletes with Armidale’s Chiyo Brown eclipsing her personal best time by eight seconds to finish third in the 11yrs girls 1500m. Shae-Leigh Vale also picked up a bronze medal in the 10yrs mutli-class discus.