By PAUL CHAMBERS
TWO talented local girls have achieved outstanding success at the recent Combined Catholic Schools Cross Country Championships.
John Paul College students Tina Sherratt, 16, and Bonnie Hancock, 15, travelled to Sydney earlier this month to participate in the State Championships at Eastern Creek Raceway.
For both girls the long trip was made worthwhile as the standard of their runs enabled them to both win medals in their respective events.
Sherratt won the gold medal in the girls' 16 and under race and Hancock won her medal in the girls' 15 and under race, with both races being run over the same four-kilometre course.
To qualify for the State Championships the girls first had to participate in the regional championships, which this year were held at Port Macquarie and win through to the team of six which represented the diocese in Sydney.
Having performed so well in Sydney they now qualify for the All Schools Cross Country Championships to be held in Gosford this year on July 22.
Despite running so well at Eastern Creek the girls have mixed feelings about taking that next step up to all schools level, mainly because success has come as a bit of a surprise to them as cross country is not their major sport.
Sherratt is an athlete who mainly competes over 800 and 1500 metre distances, while Hancock's forte is surf life saving. While running is a major part of both of those sports it is not the same as running four kilometres against other athletes who properly train to run the exact distance of the race.
Added to that , winter is both girls off-season, so running at the moment is really a bit of a variety to their training rather than the main focus, although they do train every day for up to two hours.
Tina is a more experienced runner at this level, having run several times before at state level.
"I have competed at state every year since the start of primary and ran in year seven, eight, 10 and 11," Sherratt said.
"I have usually done really well at state level but it is different at all schols because there are heaps of tough competitors there. "I haven't usually done very well at all schools because there are always 10 or so good cross country runners in your age group and its a lot harder competition."
Hancock was similar in her thoughts going into the event.
"I am training really hard at the moment and mixing it up a bit, but I know all schools will be a lot harder and the competition a lot tougher," Hancock said.
"All we can do is try and enjoy it, do our best and see how we go."