The Whanganui High School netball girls have made history and won the opportunity to stamp their class on the national stage after finishing third at the annual Lower North Island Winter Tournament Week Championships in Wellington.
Each year 64 teams are split into A and B grades where 32 sides battled it out for top honours. The top five from A grade go through to the national tournament.
The Phillips Electrical-sponsored WHS girls were in the A grade where they were ranked ninth after last season's tournament, but this year's third means they are off to Nelson to compete against 15 other teams at the Nationals on October 8-11.
WHS played nine games at Tournament Week losing just two, including their semifinal against Manukura, a side they had beaten to win this year's Manawatu Secondary Schools Championship.
"We had beaten Samuel Marsden College to get to the top four semifinal," coach Lisa Murphy said.
"After getting beaten by Manukura in the semi we played St Mary's Napier and won by one point in the playoff for third and fourth, but we had already achieved our goal of making the top five and a place at the nationals. This is the first time any WHS team has made the nationals, the best we have done previously was in 2013 when we were in the playoff for fifth and sixth against Palmerston North Girls' High and lost by one point.
"The only team from here to make the nationals was Whanganui Collegiate School in 1999 when Jolene Henry (Silver Fern) played for them.
"What we have achieved is sensational and so well-deserved. The girls have played extremely well all season. It started with us winning the U18 section of the International Netball Festival on the Gold Coast in April when we beat Fiji for the title.
"Then we finished runners-up in the Netball Whanganui Premier A1 championships to Kaierau and of course winning the Manawatu open A Grade Secondary Schools competition where we beat Manukura by one and also took out the highest goal average trophy for Secondary Schools in Manawatu."
Murphy said with only four weeks until the nationals her girls were out in the community fundraising for the trip to Nelson.
"There's a bit of expense involved in getting all of to Nelson for the nationals, so we are busy fundraising, so please support us if you happen to see us out there. Or even better if there is a very generous sponsor out there we would welcome them with open arms. We certainly couldn't have achieved what we have without the support of Jeff Phillips and Phillips Electrical - he has been absolutely brilliant," Murphy said.
+ Other WHS Tournament Week results
Boys 1st XI Hockey - 3rd India Shield part of Rankin Cup
Girls 1st XI Hockey - 10th Jenny Hair Tournament
Boys Football - 5th Trident Tournament
Girls Football - 9th Plate final winners - Grant Jarvis Tournament
Badminton - 12th Division 1
1st XV Rugby - 2nd in Central 6 Tournament