ATHLETICS: Wanganui athletes had a highly successful North Island secondary schools athletics championships with no less than 18 podium finishes including five titles. The North Islands are traditionally the last major meeting of the season. With its regionally selected teams, they often contain athletes who are not regular full-timers and appear in representative teams through their success in the local secondary school championships.
In the past the championships have seen athletes such as Jonah Lomu make a successful one-off major athletic appearance.
Often the placement of the meeting, at the tail-end of the season, sees leading athletes who have passed their peak in the decline ,while younger, less-experienced athletes on the rise grasp the opportunity with enthusiasm. What was remarkable was how successful Wanganui athletes performed - there was little evidence of decline and a pleasing number of younger athletes on the rise. I was surprised by the fact that there were no less than 17 personal bests just from my own athletes and many of these from athletes who I had thought were past their peak. ++++++
Daniel Natusch further demonstrated what an outstanding athlete he is. He won the triple jump with a 20-centimetre personal best, finally removing former New Zealand champion's Scott Newman's 18-year-old Collegiate School record.
He had a poor long jump competition to finish second but answered in the best way possible by running away from a strong 200 metre field to win with another Collegiate school record, producing his first sub-22 second half lap performance (21.93sec). He demonstrated the same blistering speed to help his four by 100 metre team across the line first, but the team efforts were negated by an out-of-zone changeover.
Natusch rounded off a busy weekend with a sub-50 400 metre anchor leg to bring his Collegiate quartet ( Scott Goldsbury , William Ridley, Hautahi Kingi) second place in a field consisting of regionally-selected teams.
Keri Hayden( Nga Tawa) was another jumper to show excellent form. She won the Intermediate Triple Jump with a Meeting record and added a third in the long jump and a final berth in a strong 100-metre field to wrap up a busy weekend. ++++
It was a great day for the Van Dalen family. Holly, who had been sick at the time of the New Zealand championships, had an outstanding end to her season. At Easter she had taken the women's B grade 3000 metres at the New Zealand teams championships.
In Hastings she further improved on her personal best to take her first major title in winning the 3000-metre senior girls. The following day she finished second in the 1500 metres behind twin sister Lucy, who too had shown a return to her best form.
Meanwhile younger brother Josh took his first major meeting placing with a second placing in the junior boys 800 metres backed up with 4th in the 1500 metres.
Ricky Bing also had a big weekend with second in the pole vault and a third in the 110-metre hurdles and seventh in the 300 metres hurdles, the last two in personal best times. New Zealand Youth 800 metre athlete Sarah Tatton stepped down a distance to run in the 400 metres. She set a Collegiate School record with an outstanding 57.43sec, bettering her previous best by a second and only lost the title by 2/100 of a second.
Stephanie Collingwood was fourth in the event but put that disappointment behind her the following day with a withering run up the home straight to take second in the intermediate girls' 200 metres. The two combined with Hayley Giddens and Mandy Vine to record third in the 4 x 400 relay. +++++
Ben Osborne did his late bid for selection in the NZ Youth team no harm in setting a personal best over 800 metres to finish second behind the older New Zealand Under 23 representative Lewis Jenkins (North harbour). Osborne also ran a personal best for fourth in the 1500 metres.
It was pleasing to see Phillipa Symes continue Wanganui's excellent record in hurdling with second in the junior girl's 70 metre hurdles in her debut meeting, while Zara Tiimothy (City College) took third in the intermediate javelin throw, ably backed up by Michela Tairoa being fifth in the same event.
Hugo Beamish can look back with considerable satisfaction on a job well done at the weekend. In the last two weeks he has improved his 3000 metre performance by 15sec and on Saturday he broke the 9min barrier for the first time ? and it took a North Island record by Jake Robertson (Waikato/Bay of Plenty) to beat him in the intermediate race. He added a third place with yet another best in the 1500 metres.
Next week I will wrap up the year with a review of the considerable Wanganui successes through the whole athletic season.