Last week I highlighted the 10 Whanganui medal-winning performances and this week reflect that there were many other glittering showings, especially from younger and returning athletes who may not have been rewarded with a medal but deserve recognition for the rich promise revealed.
A year ago, Jacky Dai (Whanganui Collegiate) was on the cusp of being eliminated in the New Zealand Schools junior boys' triple jump on a windy Sunday morning in Wellington. Dai was on two no-jumps and looking unlikely to qualify for three more jumps, let alone a medal.
Dai achieved both, winning the junior silver medal with a substantial personal best. In his senior debut, Dai opened his campaign with a foul. The jump looked good but was fractionally over the foul line – not the safe opener planned.
As Dai awaited his second jump, he noticed that an official had moved his marker. Demonstrating a maturity beyond his 16 years, Dai asked to speak to the referee - who allowed him to remeasure and have a run-through. However, his second trial again looked good but again fouled – real pressure with only one jump left.
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The third clutch jump was outstanding – perfect on the board, three excellent phases and a personal best by 33cm. This held third place until round five and although Dai came very close with the last trial and his second-best jump ever, he had to settle for his 13.15m third-round effort. Dai, who has two more years in the grade, competed well with a maturity beyond his years and has an exciting future.
Flynn Johnston (Whanganui High School) also competed well. In his debut senior 300m hurdles he won his heat in 40.44s to qualify for the final, which he finished a highly creditable fourth with 40.88s in a race won by the well-performed Cameron Moffitt (Otago Boys' High School); with Johnston's teammate Nat Kirk taking bronze. Both return next year and could share in some great hurdle races in the months ahead.
Emma Fergusson (Wellington Diocesan – Nga Tawa) followed an excellent winter with a great fourth place in her senior girls' 800m debut. She ran a personal best 2:18.09, slightly bettering her previous best set in the semifinal. On a windy weekend, Ferguson did well to run under 2m 20s twice over the weekend and backed up with a 10th place over 1500m.
Young Whanganui middle-distance runners had a successful weekend, with performances that bode well for the future. Josephine Perkins (Collegiate) was fourth in the junior 2000m steeplechase. She was rewarded with a personal best 7:52.65 but perhaps her fast early pace cost her a medal.
Her Collegiate junior teammates Louise Brabyn and Daniel Sinclair ran sound tactical qualifying races to reach their perspective junior girls' and boys' 1500m finals. Sinclair finished 6sixh in his final – 4:15.34 (the highest placed Year 10 Collegiate 1500m junior finalist) and Brabyn was fifth, recording 4:57.16. Theodora Gempton (Collegiate) also qualified for the 1500m final and finished ninth that morning in the Year 9 road race to boot.
The experienced Sophie Andrews High School) was fifth in the senior girls' javelin in difficult conditions, while Isla Feek (Isla Tawa) and Bridget Trott (Collegiate) finished seventh and eighth respectively in the junior girls' javelin. Teresa Rennie (High School) finished sixth in the junior girls' 300m hurdles, Cassie Glentworth (High School) was seventh in the senior girls' 300m hurdles and teammate Coby Pye was eighth in the senior boys' 300m hurdles. George Lambert overcame his disappointment of ninth in the road race on Sunday morning by running a 2000m steeplechase in a personal best time for seventh in the afternoon.