Whanganui athletes had much to celebrate at the 47th New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships on a wet and windy weekend in Wellington.
As reported earlier in the week athletes from Whanganui Collegiate School and Whanganui High School returned with 20 medals — eight golds, nine silver and three bronze medals from the track and field championships which is the highest total achieved by Whanganui schools in the history of the event. Unfortunately, with the cancellation for the first time of Sunday's Road Race there was no opportunity to add to this impressive total.
One major piece of history came when Sophie Williams, with a legal tail wind, broke the oldest record of the championships when she shaved .02 second off the record set by Myra Matkovitch in the inaugural championships of 1973.
Williams' time of 11.86 seconds was set in the quarter final. Williams went on to take the 100 metre for Whanganui Collegiate's fourth successive junior 100 metre title and added the 200m two hours later. Williams also ran in the winning Collegiate 4 x 100 team.
Williams was named Junior Athlete of the Meet and was named in the New Zealand Schools paper team.
Maggie Jones (High School) had an outstanding championship winning both the 80 metre hurdles and 300 metre hurdles in the junior grade. She had High School company in both with Paris Munro winning her first national medals with bronze over both distances.
High School had three athletes in the 300 metre junior girls hurdle final with Cassie Glentworth crossing in fourth. All three, along with Charlotte Baker, were in the High School junior relay teams finishing second in both junior relays.
The High School successful hurdle results did not end with the girls with novice hurdler Nat Kirk impressively winning the junior boys 300 metre hurdles in his national hurdle debut , a young athlete with an exciting future.
There was considerable discussion pre-championship whether Liam Back (Collegiate) would be the first to win the 800 metre, 1500 metre double since Nick Willis in 2000. In the 800m Back chose to make the break just before the 200 metre mark into a strong wind. Back acknowledges his tactical error and had to settle for silver. It clearly made him more determined to win the 1500 metres a couple of hours later.
The 1500 metres proved to be a tight tussle throughout. Former Collegiate athlete William Sinclair made the first break and took Back with him to enter the home straight with four athletes locked together. Back held his form to cross the line with arms raised in relief in overcoming his disappointment in the shorter race. William Sinclair (Correspondence School) took bronze with 3000m champion Zane Powell (Kings College) taking silver, only 2/10 second separated the three-medal winners. Back was selected in the New Zealand Schools Team.
Genna Maples had a troubled preparation with a foot injury to her jumping foot and only had a total of six jumps leading into the competition. Maples competed with maturity and having surrendered her early lead to defending champion Kayla Goodwin in the third round she bounced back to jump a season best of 5.76 metres to win in difficult conditions. Goodwin, who also had an injury affected build-up, went on to win the triple jump and both have been selected for the New Zealand Schools paper team. Maples was also awarded the Brent Newdick trophy for the best multi events performance (combining track and field events).
Maples had a poor start in the 100 metres, but got herself into the lead at the 80 metre mark but was unable to hold that lead and had to settle for second. Maples won a second silver a couple of hours later in the 200 metres losing by .02 of a second to Maia Anderson-Brougton (St Andrews).
Maples ran in the winning Collegiate 4 x 100 team (Tayla Brunger, Sophie Redmayne, Sophie Williams) to continue Collegiate's strong record in relays. They had to settle for second in the 4 x 400 with Motueka High School winning the title also taking the NZ Schools record held by Collegiate. The silver medal winning team was Tayla Brunger, Ana Brabyn, Sophie Redmayne and Maples.
Lucas Martin repeated his silver of 2018 improving by over a minute over the 3000 metre walk, while fellow Year 10 Collegiate athletes Jacky Dai and Harvey Meyer took silver in their respective triple jump and high jumps in the Junior Grade.
Dai set a 35 centimetre personal best (12.65), while Meyer raised his personal best by jumping 1.83 and narrowly failed to break Scott Newman's Collegiate record of 1.85 set in 1986.
Ana Brabyn (Collegiate), in finishing third in the junior 800 metres, was Whanganui's other medal winner.