U 17 Girls NetballThe Mid Canterbury Under 17 Netball side that finished 28th at the recent Netball NZ Under 17 Championships. Back row: Ella Hurley (from left), Kate Brady, Emma McDowell, Sophie Beveridge, Hannah McDougall and Natasha Drummond. Front row: Samantha Holden, Vicki Pluck, Meg McIntyre and Natasha Waddell. Photo suppliedMid Canterbury’s under 17 netballers have come away from the Netball NZ Under 17 Championships with a sense of déjà vu.

The side finished 28th out of 38 sides at the four day tournament held in Pukekohe, the same position they finished last year.

Coach Sarah Lassen said it was a good solid tournament for the team, with the superior height of the opposition often creating challenges for the team.

“We wanted to finish with the same result if not better and we did that so we achieved our goal,” she said.

“We played very nicely and cleanly and really showed our sportsmanship.”

Mid Canterbury opened pool play against the Hawke’s Bay, falling 59-26.

They looked to get things back on track when they took out a 39-33 win against Rotorua.

However, this would be their only win in the pool stage, with heavy losses against Whangarei and North Harbour 1 coming on day two.

This meant the side dropped in to the second bracket for knockout play, playing against Trust Waikato Hamilton City B, losing 47-27.

In the afternoon of day three, Mid Canterbury picked up their second win of the tournament, this time against Kapi Mana 33-28.

This win guaranteed the side a place somewhere between 25th and 28th, and left them needing to beat Nelson if they were going to take out one of the top two spots.

However, Nelson proved to be too good on the day, winning 49-30.

This left Mid Canterbury facing Gisborne for 27th or 28th.

Eight points separated the sides at the final whistle, with Gisborne taking the win 44-36.

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 20 July 2017

U 17 Mid South Canterbury Basketball TeamThe Mid South Canterbury team that finished 8th at the recent Under 17 National Championships in Wellington last week. Back row: Hayley Tallentire (from left), Roi Makutu, Taryn Douglas, Summer Anderson, Phoebe Trolove and Mark Douglas (coach). Front row: Milly Ford, Grace Adams, Sammy Arnold, Dani McArthur and Tessa Thompson. Photo suppliedThe Mid South Canterbury U 17 girls’ basketball side has returned home after a successful run at the national championships last week.

The side cracked the top eight at the tournament after starting the tournament with a bang.

Facing off against Hutt Valley in their first match, they ran away with the match 86-25.

Waitakere East presented a far tougher challenge in the second match of the day.

Needing the win to have any chance of making the top eight, Mid South were able to hold on in a tense final quarter to take out the win 70-66.

The side faced eventual runners-up Auckland Counties Manakau in their third pool game.

After trailing heavily for most of the game, a big late fourth quarter surge from Mid South closed the gap to 13, with the scoreboard reading 77-64 in favour of Auckland at the final whistle.

In the final pool match, Mid South put the scorers to the test, flying to a 97-74 win against Southland, securing second place in the pool.

In the quarter-finals, it was also going to be a challenge for Mid South coming up against basketballing powerhouses North Harbour.

Undersized but not lacking effort, Mid South were unable to keep up on the scoring charts, losing 97-41.

However, they did take the honour of being the first side to keep North Harbour under 100 points in a match.

In the first tournament crossover match for fifth through eighth, Waikato had too much for Mid South Canterbury to handle.

In the playoff for seventh and eighth, the side fought hard against Manawatu, but it was not enough, losing by six.

Coach Mark Douglas said despite the disappointment of missing out on the top four, the side were still happy to celebrate making the top eight, especially when looking at the size of the catchment areas of the other top eight teams, such as Canterbury, Waikato and Auckland.

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 20 July 2017

taonga mbambo 3Taonga Mbambo (right) leads the pack around the bend. Photos SuppliedDespite only seriously giving running a go in the past six-months, Ashburton’s Taonga Mbambo has his sights set on leaving New Zealand’s best in his wake.

Mbambo, originally from Zambia, moved to New Zealand when he was eight with his family, with Dunedin being their first home in New Zealand.

They made the move north to Ashburton two years ago, with Mbambo enrolling at Ashburton College, where he is currently in Year 12.

An avid Manchester United fan, football is another strong focus for Mbambo, having represented both Otago and Mid Canterbury on the field.

In the past few months however, it has been on the cross country trail where he has hit the national heights.

Mbambo recently placed second at the Canterbury Cross Country Championships, which booked him a place on the six-man Canterbury team that will travel to Auckland later this month for the National Cross Country Championships.

“Hopefully I will finish in the top 20, but to come back with a team medal would be great,” he said.

He showed what he had to offer at the South Island Championships earlier in the year, placing third, while also posting a respectable 43rd out of 225 at the Secondary Schools’ Nationals.

Mbambo said the moment he decided to have a serious go at running was back in March at the Aoraki Secondary Schools’ Athletics, where he broke the 2000m record.

Now, with the help of a coach, he is training six times a week, rain or shine.

The distances he covers varies from day to day, with some being “just 5km” or up to 15 or 16km.

“With the weather it is quite hard to get out sometimes, especially when it is pouring outside,” he said.

With competition tough to come by in Mid Canterbury, the Ashburton College student regularly finds himself making the trip to Christchurch to get as much racing in as possible.

When summer swings around, the focus will switch to the track, with not as many track events being held in the winter.

When it comes to idols, Great Britain’s Olympic running legend Mo Farah tops the list.

As for the future, Mbambo will be heading in to his final year of school next year, with his main sights on a top 20 finish at the national championships, with the ultimate goal of making it in to the New Zealand Cross Country team.

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 20 July 2017