Calrossy speedsters head west

While the year might be slowing down for most students, it's about to get very fast for two teenagers from Calrossy Anglican School who are running in the Australian All Schools Championships in Perth today.

Today, (Friday December 8) Cooper Wilson and Ben Kelly will pull on the spikes and take to the track up against the best young track and field athletes from across Australia.

It’s the pinnacle event for school-aged athletes and is where some of Australia’s top talent have earned their stripes at the Championships, including Olympic gold medallists, Cathy Freeman and Steve Hooker.

15-year-old Cooper Wilson will run in the under 16’s, 100 and 200 metres, as well as the NSW 4 X 100 metre relay (U16’s). While 17-year-old Ben Kelly is in the under 18 100 metre and NSW 4 X 100m relay (U18’s). Kelly is a boarder from Barraba, who has been juggling studies and training all year, he has just started Year 12 at Calrossy.

We caught up with Kelly as he was on way to Perth.

“I’m feeling really excited to compete at such a high level against such high-quality sprinters,” says Kelly.

His selection time for the 100 metres was 10.96 seconds into a strong headwind for a third place finish at NSW All Schools in September.

Training is a minimum of three times a week, complemented by gym sessions and other general fitness sessions, with a constant focus on Nationals.

“Training has been focusing on little improvements to my race such as my start to ensure better performance,” says Kelly.

“It takes a substantial period of time to build to such a high level through hard work. Meaning that I can't slack of doing other things that could affect performance.”

While he clearly has talent, Kelly says he believes his performances are more the result of hard work.

With his heats, finals and relays all set down for today, he’ll be hoping to get right back into his training as soon as his feet hit the tarmac out west. The 17-year-old knows it will come down to just a fraction of a second. But he is also looking beyond this competition.

“Good execution of race will lead to a good performance in Perth. I’d like to do track at uni afterschool possibly trying to make Oceania and World teams,” explains Kelly.

The younger sprinter Cooper Wilson goes into the Nationals in top form for both the 100 and 200 metres.

Wilson clocked the fastest 200 metres for a 15-year-old in Australia in October and Won both events at the CIS Secondary Athletics Championships and the NSW All Schools Championships. At CIS he ran a personal best time of 11 seconds in the 100m and 22.11 seconds in the 200m final was a PB and a meet record by more than half a second. At All Schools he clocked 11.14 seconds into a headwind the 100m and then clocked 21.86 seconds in the 200 m.

“I’m feeling good going into it, I trust that my training has gotten me into a good shape and ready for it,” he says.

In August he tore ankle ligaments in a friendly game of netball but he has worked hard to get back on track. Just like his school mate, he knows every little bit of time he can shave off his performance will count.

“Training leading up to it has been long and tough. I have got to get the most out of every training session, so you can run that little bit faster,” says Wilson.

His blistering selection times means that the young athlete is putting some pressure on himself.

“The hardest part is probably the expectations put on me and having to deal with this before I run, as well as all the other stress that is already there,’ he says.

“My goal at this comp, is to exceed expectations and surprise a lot of people.”

Wilson who is going into Year 11 still has plenty of time to smash some more school-aged records… on his way hopefully to the Youth Commonwealth Games in Dakar 2026.

“My future goal is to get faster and get to the next level again,” Wilson says.

Kelly and Wilson have both been training with former Armidale Athletics Coach, Jay Stone, who is now based in Tamworth. They’ve been under his wing for two years and both agree he has them soaring.

“He has helped me get to what I and do things I never thought I could do,” Wilson says.