Perfect conditions and the special magic of middle distance running at Cooks Gardens contributed to an outstanding 1500 metres at the first night of the Manawatu/Wanganui Championships on Tuesday evening.
On Saturday, William Sinclair who has joined Wanganui Collegiate in year 13, returned to his home Porritt track in Hamilton to win the Dick Quax Schools 1500 metres in a then personal best of 4:00.99.
This helped Wanganui Collegiate win the Dick Quax Shield for the 1500 metres team event for the first time since 2009. He was closely followed by Liam Back 4:03.22, who only 80 minutes earlier had run a personal best 400 metre leg of 52 seconds in bringing his Collegiate team within 0.3 seconds of victory in the Willis Relay. Zach Bellamy (also from the Waikato) was the third scorer in a personal best 4:17.44.
The conditions in Hamilton were less than perfect and it was clear that Tuesday's Centre Championships would provide the opportunity to capitalize on their good form. Team mate and 800 metre runner Jack Gay offered to do the pace taking them though the first two laps in an almost perfect 3 minutes 9 seconds.
Back made his break 250 metres from home and despite Sinclair's fast finish was able stop the clock at 3:56.80 with Sinclair recording 3:56.99. Visiting athlete from
Wellington Isaac Murphy was third 4:04.77 with a whole raft of personal bests in the 22 strong field including triathlete Ethan Gillespie and young George Lambert setting his second personal best in four days.
Five minutes later Rebecca Baker took the women's race with an impressive 4:42.92 to head off national ranked Tessa Webb. Sarah Lambert was third with young Ashleigh Alabaster breaking the 5 minute mark for the second time in 4 days with a personal best 4:59.09. Baker should be encouraged by her performance and it will be interesting to see her in the 800 metres next week.
Track and Field is at its best when there are good head to head battles. At New Zealand Schools in December Emma Osborne took the under 16 NZ Schools 400 metre title from team mate Tayla Brunger. This was reversed a week later with Brunger finishing 5th and Osborne 6th in the Australian Championships. They met for the first time in 2018 on Tuesday.
Brunger who started inside Osborne set a furious early pace eating up the stagger within the first 120 metres. Osborne responded with a powerful run off the final bend to record a 2018 best of 57.29 with Brunger perhaps paying the penalty of her fast start finishing in 58.02. This puts them second and third respectively in the NZ under 18 rankings. Mia Treadwell- Burke was third in an encouraging 1:00.91.
Former New Zealand international Scott Burch of Palmerston North made a welcome return to the track winning the men's 400 metres in 49.68 heading off Palmerston North team mate Zac Topping who later in the evening won the 100 metres.
In the 400 metres Travis Bayler in 5th should be encouraged with his early term 51.90 performance.
Fourteen-year-old Genna Maples took the 100 metre title with a respectable 12.59 into a slight head wind with Year 9 Collegiate athlete Sophie Williams in second 12.97. Maples also won the long jump.
Sophie Andrews impressed in the shot to win her division with a personal best 11.96 metres with the 3kg shot and 36.90m effort in the hammer. The men's long jump was won by Reuben Brown of Palmerston North with a good legal 6 .63 metres after struggling in the early rounds.
Ethan Cox should be pleased with his progress in the event with a 5.54 metre effort for second while in club events Jonathan Maples won his 100 metres with 12.27 suggesting that faster performances are not far away.
At the Porritt Classic former Whanganui sprinter Harry Symes, who had run impressively at last week's club night, showed once again that he is capable of winning medals at next month's New Zealand Championships with sharp performances over 100 metres and 200 metres finishing second in the latter to NZ international Joseph Millar in 22.31 into a head wind.
In finishing second he finished in front of last year's senior silver medal winner and fellow Collegiate old boy Will Smart. Symes, who worked for a time in Hawkes Bay, will be running for Hawkes Bay at next month's Championships. We will watch his progress with interest.