"A breeze will always blow in the direction that it wishes to go". - Anthony T. Hincks.
Wind has certainly not blown in favour of athletes on each of the three club nights of the new season and for the third consecutive week athletes have faced difficult spring windy conditions.
Liam Back is clearly back to his best form and despite a suicidal fast early pace set by Joseph Sinclair in the 1500m Back went on to win with a good season opener.
The pace slowed over the next lap to go through 800m in a smidgeon over a four-minute schedule. A solid last lap brought Back home in 3:59.42.
It is not the first time that Back has run under four minutes for the distance but in the conditions and the fast early pace it was an outstanding effort. Back broke another schoolboy barrier a week earlier with a sub two-minute 800m.
Andres Hernandez is concentrating on 3000m and 5000m events so should be pleased with his 4:04.81 clocking for second in the shorter race that doubled as the Collegiate Championship.
Back went on to win the 400m less than an hour later in 52.52 from Connor Munro (High School 52.72). Rebecca Baker ran for 1000m in Back's 1500m race and went through 800m in 2:26 suggesting that he is coming into good form for December's New Zealand Schools Championships.
Sarah Lambert's pacemaker was three seconds down in the opening lap and in the conditions it was hard for Lambert to pick up the pace to put her into personal best territory. Her time of 4:52.52, although not startling, was a good season opener for an athlete that prefers cross country and longer track events.
Ashleigh Alabaster closed the gap over the final 200m and was rewarded with a personal best in second position (4:55.86).
Many of the younger athletes in the big field were dragged through to personal best or close to personal best times including Josephine Perkins, Lucy Monckton and Louise Brabyn who should be encouraged by their early season efforts.
It was a pity that Tayla Brunger is still on the injured list and was unable to provide competition for New Zealand Schools and under-18 400m champion Emma Osborne.
Osborne, under the circumstances, should be pleased with her 58.49. Sophie Redmayne, who the evening before had been at A&E with broken fingers ran heavily bandaged to take third over the one lap with a typically gutsy effort.
Genna Maples did not enjoy the cold strong headwind in the 100m which was not conducive to slick performances. She won in 12.63 from the promising Kyra Engel (High School German exchange student in 13.03). Engel is clearly going to add to the depth of Whanganui sprinting.
Maples also won the long jump consolidating her overall Collegiate championship but only took one jump after an annoying ankle injury at take off following a football injury.
Travis Bayler and Jonathan Maples traded sprint wins. Maples taking the 100m into the strong wind in 11.80 with Bayler taking the 300m in an encouraging 36.28. It is healthy close competition of this nature that helps raise standards. Connor Munro, second to Back over 400m, adds to the sprinting mix.
The promising Jack Dai, still a junior for New Zealand Schools, won the long jump 5.69m and had the best triple in an Invitation Handicap event jumping 11.70m, but had to settle for second behind team-mate Jonty Tripe on handicap by 4cm.
There were encouraging wins in B grades from Rebecca Phillips (100m — 14.10), Jett Rumble (100m 12.96) and Maysin Katane (100m 12.91) with Kyra Engel taking the 300m in 43.85 from High School teammate Charlotte Baker (44.55 — PB).
The Whanganui team is a little depleted for the opening League Meeting in Inglewood with a clash with Whanganui Collegiate Senior prizegiving.
The club will, however, be represented by about 30 athletes but there will be gaps left by Collegiate senior prize winners. Inglewood is the first of three regional meets leading into New Zealand Secondary Schools in Wellington in early December.