DEFENDING champions Queen's College maintained their status as a powerhouse of Eastern Cape schools athletics when they won the Hirsch Shield for the 11th consecutive year in Grahamstown at the weekend.
Hosted by St Andrew's, the province's premier schools team event again produced some fine performances with Queen's also winning the u-16 SF Edwards Shield and Grey High taking the u-14 Sam Gunn Shield.
Morning showers and a cold wind which swept through Grahamstown on Saturday did not affect the fierce athletics competition that took place between 10 top Eastern Cape schools.
Queen's have been Hirsch Shield champions since they won the title in 2002 and on Saturday they took the title ahead of St Andrew's and Grey High.
The SF Edward Shield for u-16s was a far tighter contest with Queen's, Grey and Kingswood all finishing within three points of one another at the end of the competition.
Queen's finally took the title by one point, ahead of Grey.
In the u-14 Sam Gunn Shield, Grey managed to hold off Selborne to take the title, with St Andrew's in third place.
No records were broken on the day, but there was much excitement when Timothy Bloem, of St Andrew's, equalled the u-14 100m record with a time of 11.3sec and Grey sprint star Sergeal Petersen matched the u-19 100m record with a time of 10.8sec.
There was strong support for the participating athletes throughout the day, despite the bad weather.
The history of the Hirsch Shield goes back nearly 100 years, with the competition being held for the first time in Port Elizabeth in 1917, organised by the late Mr S Panther, a leading athletics administrator of that time.
The late Clifford Harris, of Gill College, was one of the founder members and when a general secretary was appointed, he was a natural selection for the post.
In the early days, minutes were kept by the organising secretary.
This proved to be frustrating as the secretaries changed so often that the minutes of early meetings were lost. Since 1931, however, a full record of all meetings has been kept.
The early competition was limited to u-19 athletes of any high school in Eastern Province and Border. A handsome shield was presented by the late JG Hirsch, who was a keen sportsman and played rugby for South Africa.
In the beginning, the events included the 100 yards (91m), 220 yards (201m), 440 yards (402m), one mile (1.6km), 120 yards (110m) hurdles, high jump, long jump and cricket ball throwing. The half-mile (805m) was introduced in 1920 and in 1930 the shot put took the place of cricket ball throwing.
Since then many events were added to bring the meeting to full championship standard.
Buffer events were held to fill up the programme, but these were later changed to include u-16 events only.
It was not until 1953, however, that the u-16 competition was finally accepted.
In 1996, it was accepted that an u-14 competition, named after Sammy Gunn, who for many years served as secretary, would be introduced in 1997.
The awards to the various teams were:
Hirsch Shield winners: Queen's
YMCA Cup, runners-up: St Andrew's College
Mosenthal Cup for sprints: St Andrew's
Rogaly Cup for middle-distance: Queen's
Badcock Cup for field events: Queen's
O'Hare Cup for jumps: Queen's
Oliver Cup for throws: Queen's
u-16 SF Edwards Shield: Queen's
Breytenbach Cup for runners-up: Grey
Howard Kirby Cup for sprints: Grey
Doug Couglan Cup for middle-distance: Hudson Park
Joe Truter Cup for field events: Selborne
u-14 Sam Gunn Shield winners: Grey
YMCA Cup for runners-up: Selborne
Mike Bandey Cup for sprints: St Andrew's
Leon Jacobs Cup for middle-distance: Selborne
Louis du Plessis Cup for field events: Grey