Northland's athletes have announced themselves on the national stage, taking home 15 medals from 21 events at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Christchurch last weekend.
In wet and windy conditions, Northland's top athletic prospects went down for the competition's first day on Friday and over the next two days, the nine athletes finished in the top three 15 times, including six gold medals.
Whangārei Boys' High School talent Nik Kini was the most successful at the national event, earning three gold medals in the under-18 shot put, discus and hammer. He also competed in the under-20 discus and shot put where he took home two silvers.
Pompallier Catholic College student Daniel Meyer continued his good form from 2018 by winning the para under-17 discus and shot put with throws of 31.62m and 9.76m respectively.
Not to be outdone, four female athletes finished in the top three for their respective events.
Whangārei Girls' High School student Gemma Brock was equal first in the under-18 pole vault while schoolmate Mateja Matijevich-Wiki took home silver in the under-18 hammer with a throw of 45.66m.
Fourteen-year-old WGHS student Amy Alderton made waves in two of her events, collecting bronze medals in under-18 long jump and triple jump.
As one of the youngest in the age-group, Alderton's results were clearly impressive.
"I was really happy with how well I did, I didn't expect it at all," she said.
"It's really just down to the training and the help and support I get from people which has helped me get to events and know what events to do."
Alderton, a member of Whangārei Athletics Club, said it was important to get her run-up right in the long jump and triple jump, which was easier said than done in tough conditions.
"When I finally get my run-up right, it's really good because it makes the rest of the jumps come together a lot nicer than when I have an awkward takeoff."
The days leading up to the competition were not easy for Alderton. On her way to Christchurch, her first flight was delayed which meant she and her family had to travel by bus.
After the bus stalled on the Brynderwyn Hills and was stopped in traffic, they missed another flight and after the bus missed its turnoff, the family missed its third consecutive flight to Christchurch.
Fortunately, they were able to catch another flight and arrived at about 5pm, the day before the competition.
"I was freaking out a bit, it definitely wasn't helpful," Alderton said.
For 17-year-old Kini, the national competition was a chance to stamp his authority on the under-18 throwing events before he moved up into the under-20 age group next year.
Kini's athletics season started with a bang as in February when he was ranked No 1 in the world for under-18 discus. After recording three fairly comfortable gold medal throws, Kini was pleased with his performance.
"I was quite stoked with that because it was a good result," he said.
"I didn't really expect it, I was just aiming for personal bests which I got close to."
Due to the rain at the competition, Kini said he had to hold himself back because the surface was so slippery, so much so that he had to compete in sneakers rather than his usual competition shoes.
"The circles were already quite slippery because they were brand new, so when it started raining on that polished concrete, they were really slippery.
"It was quite hard because I've never trained in such a smooth circle before so it was something different, I might start training in the rain now."
Since February, Kini had dropped from his No 1 world under-18 discus ranking to sit
second. Understandably, being the best in the world wasn't an easy thing for Kini to describe.
"I can't really wrap my mind around it, it's quite cool actually.
"I feel proud of myself that I got to the top in the world, so I'll work hard on getting it back."
Due to his dominance in the under-18 grade and his strength in the under-20 grade, Kini was one of the stars in a competition which featured athletes of all ages. When asked about how he felt about all the attention, Kini remained humble.
"I suppose it makes me quite proud of what I achieved and makes it worth doing all the hard work that I put in," he said.
"I just liked seeing all the big boys like Tom Walsh throw, that was pretty cool."
With so many Northland athletes doing well at the competition, Kini said he was glad he could see his friends succeed on the national stage and hoped it would spur them on to win more medals in the future.
Northland's secondary school athletes would be competing in a school's athletics meet today at Trigg Sports Arena in Whangārei.
Northland athletes results
Amy Alderton (WGHS):
3rd U18 Long jump (5.52m)
3rd U18 triple jump (11.16m)
6th U18 100m (12.73)
3rd Open Women's 3000m race walk (16.21.64)
4th 10,000m Open Women's race walk (57.37.72)
Daniel Meyer (Pompallier):
1st Para U17 Discus (31.62m)
1st Para U17 Shot Put (9.76m)
Gemma Brock (WGHS):
=1st U18 Pole Vault (2.76m)
Holly Rule (WGHS):
5th U18 400m (59.26)
Jenna Johnston (WGHS):
8th U18 High jump (1.53m)
Jordyn Hetaraka (WBHS):
2nd U20 Hammer (49.85m)
3rd U18 Discus (42.55m)
2nd U18 Hammer (55.13m)
Mateja Matijevich-Wiki (WGHS):
2nd U18 Hammer (45.66m)
6th U20 Hammer (39.43m)
6th U18 Shot Put (12.09m)
Nik Kini (WBHS):
1st U18 Shot Put (18.10m)
1st U18 Hammer (59.38)
1st U18 Discus (51.94)
2nd U20 Discus (51.96)
2nd U20 Shot Put (16.89)