The leading senior Whanganui teams have swapped positions on the Hockey Manawatu totem pole as the new season begins to ramp up tomorrow down at the Twin Turfs in Palmerston North.
Having cleaned up the Women's Premier Reserve title last year, the Whanganui Women's team has been promoted back up to a new-look Premier grade with five teams.
Meanwhile, after a disappointing 2018 Premier campaign with just two wins and a draw, Tech College Old Boys have been through a major overhaul of their lineup, yet still found themselves relegated to Men's Premier Reserve.
Their campaign got underway at the opening round before the Easter break with a 2-0 win over Marist B at the Twin Turfs, in the new-look six team grade.
Premier also has six teams and TCOB senior player Calum Wilbur said Hockey Manawatu decided arbitrary to move them down a grade in a straight choice between themselves and Palmerston North Boys High School
"The original plan was it was going to be a playoff with us and PNBHS. On whatever the Saturday was [April 6].
"They cancelled it because PNBHS had something else on that weekend, a tournament."
Although disappointed, TCOB's mission now is to be in the top four of the Premier Reserve after two rounds of games, at which point there will be a split into three four-team divisions between the two grades — Top 4, Middle 4 and Bottom 4.
Winning the Middle 4 championship will give them promotion back into Premier for next season.
Of last year's squad, from which attending the weekly training sessions was often an issue, the only regular squad survivors are Wilbur, Tyler Nicoll-Hylton, Matt Forward, Patrick Madder and Craig Ritani.
The talented Lee Moir has opted to play rugby this year, but will fill in when he can.
Wilbur said with Hockey Wanganui chief executive Robbie Matthews doing part time coaching at Whanganui Collegiate, the team has been able to access several of those players, as well as the usual group coming in from the traditional feeder of Whanganui High School.
"They're much better than us obviously [at training]," Wilbur said.
The Whanganui Women's team were able to get the bye in the first round of Premier before Easter, due to several of their players being away on the Collegiate girls hockey tour of Australia.
They will start their campaign today in a three round competition of 12 games, of which the top 4 of the five will then play the semifinals.
"We've got a mixture of young and old in the team," said player/coach Colleen Baylis.
Familiar names returning from last year are the former Black Stick Matthews, Nicky Skedgwell and Kirsty Parsons.
Former Collegians veteran Whetu Hamahona has returned after a few years away from hockey, while Mattie Reid is a Collegiate newcomer.
Tomorrow, TCOB face College B at 12pm, while Whanganui Women take on Palmerston North Girls High at 2pm.