It was a long and demanding season for Whanganui athletes.
The end of a season not only brings a rest and transition but also a chance to reflect and to plan for the future learning from the experiences of the summer season just ended.
I am writing this in the café at the Millennium Institute of sport where I have been with Liam Back who has been undergoing some tests and analysis. Included in this has been a close analysis of the causes of the injury that effected the early part of his successful season. The tests will produce some important data that will influence the direction of his training as he goes into his last six months as a school athlete.
He, along with other distance athletes, is heading into the winter season and it comes as a bit of a shock that there are only nine weeks to the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships to be held in Timaru on June 15.
For Back and many others this will be midway through the winter and will be an important mid-season peak. For many however, who do other winter sports the NZ Schools Cross Country will be a shorter term goal and when combined with their own School Cross Country and Whanganui Secondary Schools will provide its own short season and with it a good aerobic base for their main winter code.
For three young Whanganui athletes reported in last week's Chronicle the season is not yet over as they enjoy all what California has to offer not only as athletic tourists but in terms of the outstanding competition in great conditions.
The tour started in San Diego at the Triton Invitational at the University of San Diego. Tayla Brunger had an outstanding start to the tour building on her success a week earlier in New Zealand at the North Island Schools in Tauranga. In the 200 metres she stopped the clock with a legal best performance of 25.07.
In Tauranga she has dipped just below 25 seconds but had the advantage of a strong assisting wind. It was probably unfortunate that Brunger had been wrongly seeded in a slow heat which she won convincingly. This is unlikely to happen the remaining two meetings. She was correctly seeded in the 400 metres and produced another top performance and added to a series of sub 57 second performances (56.62). It is from consistency like this that big personal best performances come. Watch this space.
Jonathan Maples also demonstrated good early tour form. His best 100 metres being a hand timed 11.3 with a good tail wind at Cooks Gardens. His 11.39 electronic time was significantly better, and his 200 metres only an hour later was also close to his best (only .01 outside his best). Again, with good conditions and some technical work on transitions within the race he is set for further progress that could come as soon as the weekend at the Beach Invitational in Long Beach.
The third athlete Andres Hernandez has clearly not fully overcome his viral infection that kept him out of the 1500 metre finals in Christchurch in early March. Although still producing a sound performance over 1500 metres he felt leg tired as he did a week earlier in Tauranga where he took first and third in the respective 2000 metre Steeplechase and 3000 metres races.
The focus of the tour has changed and he is relooking closely at the tour competition programme and at his training in California where he is looking at longer term goals including the forthcoming Cross-Country season.
He will probably miss the Beach Invitational at the weekend leaving his final effort for Irvine in the last week of the tour.
Next week I will undertake the same exercise as the athletes in both reviewing the season past and looking ahead to both the winter and the exciting 2019-2020 track and field season.
Whanganui athletes feature in the current rankings which cover performances since the start of the calendar year. I will continue to follow our three athletes in Californian in the final few days of their exciting tour. I am certainly envious of their experience.