It has been a great week for Whanganui middle-distance running, both in New Zealand and in USA, with an impressive group of performances.
Former Whanganui Collegiate New Zealand Champion Geordie Beamish followed his first sub-four-minute mile in New York with an outstanding 3000 metres in the Dave Hemery Invitation Indoor Meet in Boston, clocking an outstanding 7:44.67 over the weekend to top the New Zealand 2020 rankings. His result is also sixth on the New Zealand All-time rankings.
Two other more recent Collegiate old boys recorded personal best times and third places on the Porritt Classic podium. William Sinclair impressed in the Permit 1500m, finishing third in the race won by Nick Willis. Sinclair's time was a huge personal best of 3:49.65 for his first sub 3-minute 50-second effort, taking the 19-year-old to 5th in the New Zealand Senior rankings.
Liam Back, who earlier in the afternoon ran in the 400 metres, set a personal best for 800 metres in 1:53.08. Back almost missed the start on Saturday but made sure of being punctual at the MWA Championships three days later in Palmerston North, where he set a personal best 3:55.63 to win the Centre Championships.
A major feature of the Porritt Classic is the schools 1500 metre team races which attracted the usual large fields. The boys field had 30 starters and although Collegiate narrowly lost the team title to Westlake Boys High School all six team members set personal bests.
Zach Bellamy became the 10th Collegiate athlete to go under four minutes stopping the clock at 3:59.85. Bellamy, who featured in last week's Whanganui Chronicle, chased Back home on Tuesday to take more than two seconds off his Porritt time to record 3:57.55 to move up to 7th on the Collegiate All-time rankings. Notable among the six personal bests at the weekend was 14-year-old Daniel Sinclair (4:21.90) to become the school's fastest ever for a 14-year-old.
The girls team also finished second, with Mackenzie Morgan setting a personal best of 4:53.94 in 5th place. Josephine Perkins was the next team member home, taking more than 8 seconds off her best to record 5:02.75. The Collegiate Willis Relay Team (300m, 400m, 400m and 400m) of Genna Maples, Mackenzie Morgan, Ana Brabyn and Emma Osborne retained their title.
Consistency in performance is often an indicator of imminent improvement but it can also be frustrating for athletes. High jumper Harvey Meyer jumped 1.82m in Hawera in January, 1.81m at Cooks Gardens a week ago and 1.84m in Hamilton, narrowly failing at 1.88 metres to finish 5th in the men's field.
He is chasing Scott Newman's junior record of 1.85 metres, set back in 1985. Meyer was introduced to Newman, who was watching the action in Hamilton.
Travis Bayler is another athlete who twice in a week has run a smidgen over 1 minute 56 for the 800 metres. On Saturday he ran well for 7th finishing in 1:56.18. That first sub 1:55 is surely very close.
Tayla Brunger, in finishing fourth in the Permit 400 metres, ran a personal best and Collegiate record of 55.38 to head the New Zealand under 20 rankings. The race was won by Australian Annaliese Rubie ahead of her team-mate Caitlin Jones followed by Te Aroha's Annalies Kalma (54.98) who heads the under 18 rankings.
Brunger and Kama are among a strong group of one lap girls who are chasing the demanding 4 x 400 relay qualifying time.
Maggie Jones, who next month crosses the Tasman for her international debut, should be pleased with her first effort over 400 metre hurdles to finish 6th in the women's field in a promising 1:05.95 for her first run over the longer distance. Jones also had to move up from 80 metre hurdles to 100 metre hurdles and again she should be pleased with her 14.92 effort.
In Palmerston North on Tuesday, Jonty Tripe came so close to jumping 12 metres for the first time but had to be satisfied with a personal best 11.94 metres to win the Manawatū/ Whanganui Centre title.
Ariana Drabble, recently arrived from Southland, set a personal best of 9.54 metres for third place, while Emma Osborne demonstrated that she is on the road to recovery with her 57.5 run over 400 metres.
The school championship season starts this week in what will be a busy time at Cooks Gardens. Whanganui High School sets the ball rolling on Thursday with the annual Whanganui Collegiate Inter House event on Saturday evening.
The series which includes all our secondary schools and the Viard Shield ends with the Whanganui Secondary Schools Championships on Wednesday, March 18.