Four Whanganui athletes have a rare opportunity to feed off each other and lift their already regonsied ntional performances.

By the end of 2018 year's end, Whanganui had three of the top four (Tayla Brunger at 1, Genna Maples at 2 and 14-year-old Sophie Williams at 4) in under-18 100m. And over 400m we have Emma Osborne at 2 and Brunger at 4.

The Wanganui Collegiate School students are ranked among the top under-18 sprinters in New Zealand and have the rare advantage of being in the same training group on Athletics Wanganui club nights.

Coach Alec McNab said it was rare, but not unusual, to have this number of New Zealand's best age group athletes in the same club and in the same town even.


"It is well documented that groups of athetes that are close can feed off each other to lift individual performance, rather than fear each other or look over shouders at competition time,"McNab said.

He was alluding, of course, to the likes of Kiwi runners Rod Dixon, the late Dick Quax and JohnWalker, British milers Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, Steve Cram and even Peter Elliot, all of whom remained competitive yet still good mates.

"Because they were all from the same place, they managed to lift overall performance by feeding off each other."

New Zealand rankings are recorded from performances during a calendar year and new kid on the block Sohpie Williams (14) set the new benchmark at the Colgate Games in Hamilton just last weekend when clocking 12.11 seconds for 100m.

"This was faster than all legal times run in 2018 and sets the tone for this year," McNab said.

Brunger (16) had last year's fastest time clocking 12.23s in under-16 company, while Maples (15) was second with 12.29s. Until last weekend's Colgate Games Williams was fourth fastest with 12.36s.

"At New Zealand Schools under-16 in December last year Genna was first and Sophie second, then Genna went on to finish fourth at the Australian All Schools. At the New Zealand Schools Genna relished the role of mentor to Sophie helping her through all disciplines and the demanding rounds of competition. In fact, they are all good mates. Competition is healthy, but it's just as important that they all get on.

"They will all meet again over 100m at the CooksClassic next Tuesday for the first time since the Palmerston North Regional Championship in early November where they will be joined by Aria Carroll fromCanterbury ranked 8th in New Zealand under-18 and Abby Fisher from Otago ranked 12th.

"That field at the Cooks Classic will feature six of the top 12 under-18 sprinters in the country - it doesn't get any better than that and it's a race I am really looking forward to watching," McNab said.