The Whanganui High School 1st X1 boys hockey team has bounced back to top-tier level after an emphatic unbeaten season on turf.
The side went through the Manawatu Secondary School Championship without loss to claim the division one title, then asserted themselves during Tournament Week in Palmerston North last week to remain unbeaten and take home the Founders Cup. WHS beat Hutt International 2-1 in the final.
Team manager Darrell Hoskin said the lads were intent on performing well during Tournament Week after dropping down from tier one and the Rankin Cup/India Shield competition when they finished in the bottom six last season.
This year WHS claimed the scalps of Wanganui Collegiate 3-0, then drew 1-all with Hutt International before beating Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ruamata from Rotorua 3-0. They then demolished Rangitoto College 7-1 on the way to the final.
"The aim was always to bounce back into tier one and Rankin Cup company for Tournament Week in Christchurch next year," Hoskin said.
"This season has been especially satisfying. Under coach Andrew Spence they have gone through the winter and now Tournament Week unbeaten. They have played 23 games, won 21 and drawn two, scoring 123 goals and had just 12 scored against them.
"That's pretty special and I don't think too many teams can match that. Andrew has done an excellent job, although the boys themselves have produced an amazing all-round team effort."
The side involves two players in the Central U18 team in Patrick Madder and Jordan Cohen, who has also been named in the New Zealand Under-18 men's development camp.
"Yes, we have ours stars, Jordan and Paddy, but I could probably name another half dozen at least who are destined for bigger things. We have a few younger players in this team, including a Year 9 boy and we have been up against some good teams who are also littered with Central players," Hoskin said.
Meanwhile, the WHS girls 1st X1 hockey side finished sixth of 16 teams at their Chica Gilmer Trophy tournament in Pukekohe, the boys 1st X1 football team placed third in their Tournament Week competition, while the girls 1st X1 footballers ended up seventh of 24 teams.