With only nine days until the New Zealand Championships in Christchurch leading Whanganui athletes are coming to peak form at just the right time.
Last Thursday Whanganui High School held its championships and the two New Zealand-bound athletes Connor Munro and Travis Bayler had close battles over both sprints.
Munro came out narrowly on top and will have gained a boost prior to heading to Christchurch next week to run in the 200m and 400m hurdles. In the latter he will be joined by Jonathan Maples who has been showing good recent form.
Bayler steps up a couple of distances to run in the under 20 800m and the speed workout came at just the right time.
The Collegiate Inter House event was on Saturday. Whereas its team match formula does not always put leading athletes in direct competition their strongest event the competitive nature of the event, and the vociferous support from the full grandstand is conducive to top performances.
Tayla Brunger impressed over both 200m (24.9 hand timed) and eclipsed her own school 300m record by a significant margin stopping the clock at 39.5 seconds.
Her Manawatu/Whanganui and Collegiate team mate Emma Osborne ran in the 800m and in the 100m. In the latter she set a personal best behind Genna Maples who ran 12.2 into a stiff headwind. Maples also won the long jump with a good 5.48 metre effort.
Osborne and Brunger met in Palmerston North on Tuesday in the 400m Manawatu Whanganui Championships with Osborne narrowly winning in a slick 57.06. Osborne ran a very strong anchor 400m leg for her House bringing them from 4th to 2nd while Brunger teamed with Genna Maples, Jessica Johnstone and Keela Cashmore to win the 4 x 100 breaking the House record by a second with a nationally fast time of 51.0 seconds. Brunger and Osborne head south peaking when it matters.
In the Junior grades Sophie Williams won the 100m 200m double the former with a fast 12.0 hand timed from the photo finish camera. Williams, who is still 14, will only be running 100m and relays at under 18 level at the championships is showing growing maturity and can feature highly in her 100m in Christchurch.
Another young athlete who turned 15 a week ago is William's team mate Ana Brabyn who starts in the 800m in Christchurch. She easily won her 800m at the Collegiate House Match and at the same meeting ran a personal best over 300m.
After a slow start on Tuesday over 400m she ran a great home straight closing on the nationally ranked Osborne and Brunger to be rewarded with a great personal best of 58.09. Brabyn could cause something of an upset at the NZ Championships in the 800m.
New Zealand Schools 800m silver medal winner Joseph Sinclair impressed over 800m as did his Harvey House and MWA team mate Zach Bellamy. Both ran under 2 minutes with Bellamy a personal best. Bellamy set another best in finishing 5th in the strong 1500m at Tuesday's Centre Championships finishing in a smart 4:05.65.
Bellamy is clearly coming into form at the right time and is showing improved speed every time, he steps onto the track. He runs in both 800m and 1500m at under 18 level.
Whanganui middle distance runners have had an outstanding week. Sarah Lambert ran a personal best on Saturday and improved further on Tuesday recording 4:45.77 which should see her among the leading under 20 runners in Christchurch while young Ashleigh Alabaster who starts in steeples and 3000m at under 18 level dipped under 5 minutes for only the second time.
On Saturday, at the Collegiate House event, Liam Back ran an apparently effortless 1500m in a smidgeon over 4 minutes with Hernandez not far in arrears. Hernandez had earlier won the 3000m and was just outside of two minutes chasing Sinclair and Bellamy.
On Tuesday in Palmerston Joseph Sinclair set the pace hotly followed by Back, Ben Wall and Noah McDermid (Manawatu). Back struck for home, perhaps slightly early, but managed to find an inside berth with 190m remaining to record 3:56.83 only 3/100ths outside his personal best — a timely performance as he comes back into form after injury.
Hernandez finished second with his first sub 4-minute performance 3:58.85. This provides confirmation that speed has improved as he moves to 3000m and 5000m in his home city of Christchurch.
The final hit out for these leading young athletes is at the Sir Peter Snell meeting at Cooks Gardens on Saturday evening.