It was perhaps fitting on a week in which former Whanganui athlete Geordie Beamish ran his first sub four-minute mile in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millhouse Games in New York, that the middle distance events took centre stage at the Manawatu/Whanganui Championships on Tuesday.
Former Whanganui Collegiate runner Beamish, who in his last runs in Collegiate colours, won the New Zealand Schools 3000 metres and was a member of the winning 4 x 400 team. Beamish went on to Northern Arizona State University where he has carved out an impressive CV that includes NCAA Team Cross Country titles and the Division 1 Indoor Mile title last year.
On Saturday he ran in the Wanamaker Mile in an international field. His time in finishing 6th was 3:56.90 which was his first time under four minutes and places him 15th in the NZ All time rankings. Beamish's last 400 metres was 56.66, outpacing Norwegian middle distance star Filip Ingrebrigtsen.
In perfect conditions on Tuesday Daniel Taylor set exactly the pace asked for as pacemaker in the men's 800 metres MWA Championship, taking the field through in just under 56 seconds.
He was closely followed by Benjamin Wall (Palmerston North) and Whanganui's Travis Bayler and Zach Bellamy and William Sinclair.
Sadly, Liam Back now living in New Plymouth, was unable to race. Sinclair stepped off the track leaving Wall in front to strike for home stopping the clock in a personal best 1:53.96.
Former High School athlete, last year's captain and Whanganui club captain, Travis Bayler, won the Whanganui battle for second from current Collegiate captain Zach Bellamy (1:56.30 and 1:56.30 respectively). Bayler's time was a smidgeon outside his personal best with Bellamy recording a best by a second.
There was no need for a pacemaker in the women's race with Palmerston North athlete Kara MacDermid setting a blistering pace right from the gun. Her winning time was an impressive 2:11.22. There was a close battle between Rebecca Baker and Mackenzie Morgan for second with the experienced Baker prevailing with 2:20.27 to Morgan's 2:21.35.
Ana Brabyn, who is preparing for an International Cross Country in Slovakia in April, was fourth with Angela Jukes and Josephine Perkins in 6th and 7th setting personal bests.
Otago visitor Joshua Baan took the 3000m in 8:25.85 from Noah MacDermid (Palmerston North) with Theo Purdy running the further five laps to lead the 5000m division.
Race walker Lucas Martin was outstanding to record a classy 23:15.59 for the 12.5 lap journey. Martin broke the Whanganui Collegiate record standard (25 minutes) to add the 5000m record to his 3000m and 10,000 metre walk records. Martin competes for New Zealand Schools in Australia next month and will be encouraged by the performance that would have won across the Tasman in 2019.
The 200 metre sprint titles were shared between Palmerston North and Whanganui. Zac Topping (Palmerston North) taking the male race in 22.22 with a gentle tail breeze.
Arai Carroll, who joined Whanganui Collegiate in Year 13 from Christchurch, took the 200 metres in 26.41 from the fast-finishing Monique Gorrie (Palmerston North ) 26.62 and Kyra Engels (Whanganui) 26.95, in one of the closest finishes of the day. It was a pity that Kimberley Walsh (Palmerston North) 26.85, ran in the slower heat.
Maggie Jones, who in March will join Lucas Martin and New Zealand Schools team captain Genna Maples in Sydney as part of the New Zealand Schools team, stepped up from 80m hurdles (the distance run to win the NZSS junior title in December) to 100m hurdles and win the MWA title in 16.14. After a holiday break her times will progress rapidly over the time before departure.
High jump is an event where consistently good performances often translate to a new best and spike performance soon afterwards. Harvey Meyer, who in December was second in the junior grade at New Zealand Schools with 1.83, jumped 1.82m in Hawera last month in "Jumps to Music" and on Tuesday won the MWA title with 1.81m (his best at Cooks Gardens).
Emma Bedford, who holds the Collegiate Junior record of 1.50 metres and matched it twice in the past week, jumped 1.51m for a new under 16 record only days before her 16th birthday.
The championships have their final week in Palmerston North when the programme features 100 metres, 400 metres and 1500 metres with triple jump and shot as the field events, there is transport provided from Whanganui Collegiate at 4.45pm.