Whanganui Collegiate School's Inter House Cross Country run on the golf course provided the final trial for the school team to travel to the New Zealand Secondary Schools in Timaru next weekend.
The in-form Daniel Sinclair, who had been a standout winner in the Year 9 Whanganui Schools Championships a week earlier, was a convincing victor in the Collegiate Junior race over the longer 4000m distance.
His time of 13 minutes 19 seconds was impressive, beating Harvey Meyer by 44 seconds. Sinclair will move up to the Under 16 grade in Timaru.
The Intermediate Boys race was won by George Lambert, who has recovered well from injury.
Lambert impressed with his bold front running and his 12m 12s run over 4000m is an excellent confidence boost, prior to the NZ Schools Championships where he will join a strong Collegiate Senior Boys Team in Timaru.
Lambert won his race by almost a minute, to produce the biggest winning margin of the day.
Ana Brabyn, who in the summer won the NZ Schools 800m Intermediate title and took a brace of silver medals over 400m and 800m at the North Island champs, added the Collegiate Junior title to her Whanganui Schools title won a week earlier.
She headed Timaru-bound team mates Josephine Perkins and Marguerite Hazelhurst with her Year 9 sister Louise Brabyn, winner of the Whanganui Schools Year 9 grade, coming in 4th place.
The younger Brabyn will step up to the junior (Under 16 grade) in Timaru and along with the Brown twins will form a solid team in Timaru.
Whanganui Schools winner and NZ Schools International Sarah Lambert made it a senior double when she added the Collegiate senior title.
Lambert is in excellent form.
Ashleigh Alabaster, last year's Collegiate Junior winner and third in the Seniors at Whanganui Schools, came second to Lambert and ahead of triathlete Maddison Gray and Collegiate Club Captain Marseille Bowie.
As at Tawhero for Whanganui Schools, the three New Zealand Schools Internationals set a hot pace right from the gun.
After 2000m, Liam Back and Andres Hernandez opened a gap on Zach Bellamy.
Like Tawhero, Back proved the stronger over the final stages of the 6000m journey to win by 15 seconds over Hernandez, with Bellamy a further 30 seconds in arrears.
Back's winning time of 18m 9s was the best over the course.
William Sinclair was ahead of his brother Joseph in a reversal of their Tawhero finishing order.
William, who had major knee surgery in January and only started running again in April, has improved with every outing and has a significant role to play in the Collegiate six-to-score team in Timaru.
Bellamy and the Sinclairs helped their Harvey Team to take the Senior Boys crown.
They added the Junior Boys team to the Senior team title.
Harvey retained the Inter House trophy, winning both the standards and the combined teams events.
The Collegiate championships also helped in making decisions of the running order for the Regional Relays, which are being held the day after the New Zealand Schools Championships.
The 5x2 Kilometre relay run in the three grades competing on the previous day for both genders will give athletes who ran for their own school that Saturday the chance to run for their region on the following day.
The relays started three years ago in Rotorua and have proved a popular addition to the weekend.
Timaru provides a challenge as a few contenders for a relay team place will not make the long journey south.
Nevertheless, Whanganui will be a fielding regional teams in all grades except Year 9 Girls.
Whanganui High School, who won the Year 9 Boys convincingly at Tawhero, provides four of the team of five for that race, with Daniel Sinclair the sole Collegiate runner.
George Davey and Heike Reitsma have automatic selections and they will be joined by the best-performed two from the strong WHS Year 9 athletes competing.
The Junior Boys are headed by Nat Kirk (WHS) who will be joined by Hunter Gibson, Elliot Jones, Harvey Meyer and John Bryant (Collegiate).
In the Senior Boys grade, the leading three Collegiate athletes Back, Hernandez and Bellamy are likely to be joined by WHS 800m specialist Karl Loebe and Travis Bayler, with George Lambert (Collegiate) in reserve.
The Junior Girls team brings the Brabyn sisters together and they will be joined by Emma Fergusson (Nga Tawa) and Josephine Perkins and Marguerite Hazelhurst (Collegiate).
In the Seniors, a strong team of Sarah Lambert, Sarah Mathews, Ashleigh Alabaster (Collegiate), Rebecca Baker (WHS) and Adelaide Roper will represent Whanganui.
Next week I will preview the New Zealand Schools Championships.