Hot temperatures and gnarly winds greeted athletes for the first big club night of the new school year as numbers competing swelled from the recent quiet holiday club nights.

Forty-six athletes faced the starter in the opening popular 2000 metre Road Race.

Unfortunately, a slight short cut when athletes took the field across the Inspire car park meant that the times will not be considered for rankings as this took about 30 metres off the final distance.

This was sad for the leading runners who on a windy night may well have set personal bests for the distance. Zach Bellamy was first home with training partner George Lambert less than two seconds in arrears. They were followed in close order by Liam Jones, Nat Kirk and Travis Bayler.

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Rebecca Baker, who will unfortunately not be attending the New Zealand Championships because of a clash with a major national hockey event, was the first female home and her hockey coaches must be impressed by her strong aerobic base.

Mackenzie Morgan, who has come from Wellington, showed real promise in her Cooks Gardens debut as the second female home (7:10.79) to finish 12th in the big mixed field.

Morgan later looked good over 300m winning in 46.52. Year 12 Morgan will make her Collegiate debut at the Porritt Classic when she runs in both the Willis Medley 1500m relay and the Dianne Rodger 1500m team race.

The wind eased slightly for the 200 metres to allow the inform Tayla Brunger to record 25.39 with a 1.4 metre headwind for the half lap. Hendrich Joubert won the mixed race in 25.22 seconds giving Brunger ideal competition. Brunger runs in the Porritt Classic at the end of next weekend in a stacked 400 metre field.

Another new athlete made her Whanganui club night debut. Aria Carroll hails from Christchurch finishing 4th at the NZSS 100metres at New Zealand Schools in December.

She won her 150m 19.88 and her 60 metres 8.15 seconds. Both were into strong head winds which she will be used to hailing from Christchurch and is common occurrence on the Nga Puna Wai track.

Emma Osborne was second to Carroll and after a long injury break Osborne looked good in both the short sprint and later over 600 metres where her time of 1:39.06 was not only a personal best but put her to the top of the Whanganui rankings just hundredths ahead of Brunger.

Ten athletes travelled to Palmerston North to take part in the first week of the Manawatu/Whanganui (MWA) Centre Championships where a small group of events were held as an entrée to the two main weeks over the next fortnight.

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Cooks Gardens hosts the first of the two major Championships next week (Tuesday 11th March) when the main events are 200 metres, 800 metres, 3000/5000 metres and sprint hurdles on the track and High Jump in the field.

The balance of the events will be held in Palmerston north a week later. Between the two many athletes will be competing at the major Porritt Classic in Hamilton where there is a mix of top senior events and school team races and relays mentioned earlier in the column.

In Palmerston at the MWA Championships Sophie Andrews won the Hammer with a 36.52 metre effort. Daniel Sinclair still in year 10 took the Steeples with Josephine Perkins the female winner.

Jack Dai and Lucy Brown finished second in their respective Long Jumps (5.53 and 4.70 metres). Brown who has a history of no jumps was delighted to get all six trials recorded.

The 4.70 metres although below her best shows promise.

Nat Kirk, who in December won the NZSS Junior 300 metre hurdles, was 400 metre finalist and a key man in successful Whanganui High School relay teams is clearly an athlete with high potential. He might even consider Decathlon.

He has sprint ability, good middle distance pedigree which includes a North Island medal over 800 metres and on Tuesday night he threw the javelin out to a winning 41.25 metres.

He started the night with a fourth place in the Road Race and then ran second to nationally ranked 400 metre team-mate Travis Bayler over 300 metres recording a slick 39.76 for the distance.

Next week's Centre Championship run in conjunction with the weekly club night starts at 6.45pm. Hurdle athletes are reminded that entries are due no later than 6pm next week.