READY TO RACE: Matthew Rankin is looking forward to the challenge of the state championships.
READY TO RACE: Matthew Rankin is looking forward to the challenge of the state championships. Claudia Williams

Burnett's best take on state

CROSS COUNTRY: When Paige O'Connor and Matthew Rankin line up for the Queensland school sport cross country championships in Maroochydore they will be looking to cross the finish line with a medal around their necks.

The Nanango State High School students won their division at the Wide Bay championships and are determined to secure a place on the Queensland team.

For Paige it was the fourth time she had won the Wide Bay event and she is excited to see how she matches up against her competitors at the Sunshine Coast this weekend.

"I think my training has been going pretty well and I really hope to make the team again since I have been working so hard," she said.

"Usually you can tell when you have improved and I think I have and it will come down to the day to see how I go and I am really looking forward to it."

Paige brought home a gold and bronze medal from the team events at nationals last year which has provided her with the motivation for this season.

"It really inspired me after winning two medals at nationals and it makes you set your goals higher for the next year," she said.

Recent cold weather has not deterred Paige from running 8km three days a week before school as well as working on speed with sprints in the afternoon.

To prepare for the season Paige has been competing in the Queensland running series in Brisbane.

Racing on different courses against the fastest girls in the state will be advantage for Paige ahead of the weekend.

"The more races you do the more confident you get and when you are in an age group with the same girls," she said.

Queensland will host the national championships at Maleny on August 24.

Having already raced on the course Paige will have an advantage over the kids from interstate.

"It's really good once you have run a course before and it will really help me," she said.

Matthew has raced on the Maleny course twice and is excited at the prospect of competing at his first national championships in hi final year at school.

This is the first year Matthew has been specifically training for the event with the assistance of a coach and his is ready to test himself against the best runners in Queensland this weekend.

"I have been training a lot and my goal is to come first and if not hopefully top three," he said.

In the lead up he has been competing at the Sunshine Coast series and his results are continuing to improve.

He is also an avid track runner and is hoping his speed will be advantage in the 6km race.

He recently ran 1500m in four minutes and eight seconds, just two seconds off his personal best a promising sign for the future.

"On the weekend I cruised it and it was pretty comfortable so that tells me that i am training well," he said,

"The shorter distances will hopefully help with pace and the longer ones will help with endurance."