Northland's Amanda Still continues to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand Olympic 1500m runner Nick Willis.
The 14-year-old Still is being eased into the competitive world by athletics legend Ian Babe after dominating the 1500m race at the Porritt Classic, an event which Willis formerly competed at.
Babe said Still's result on Saturday suggests she is running into fine form and is ready for some keen competition in late February and March at the Auckland and New Zealand Championships.
"It means that she's challenging top positions in that age group nationally," said Babe. "She's a good kid, she's bright, [and] she won't be disgraced at the nationals.
"We're just doing smart training and looking after her, the furthest she's ever run is something like 50 minutes."
Babe said Still, who is a student at Whangarei Girls' High School, ran a well-executed tactical race in windy conditions, kicking away strongly from the leaders as she opened a gap of 30m between her and the 25-strong field.
Earlier this month, Still's fellow Athletics Whangarei member Corrine Smith was the outright winner of the mixed 3km walk at Athletics Auckland Hot Meet in Waitakere.
The 46-year-old Smith clocked a time of 15 minutes and one second to sit third in the national rankings.
At the same competition, Still was a comfortable winner of her 800m race and Ella Harold, 13, made her debut in senior competition, winning the under-15 in the combined women's 3000m race.
Late in January, Smith easily cleaned up the competition in the bathtub race at the Pahi Regatta, winning by a good margin from the otherwise all-male field.