As mentioned previously in this column, Whanganui athletes have performed well nationally from such a small centre and the leading performances reported on last week bode well for forthcoming major competitions.
Inevitably a snapshot glimpse of a championship written less than 24 hours after its conclusion carries the risk the risk of omission of some leading performances which hopefully will now be corrected.
Coby Pye (Whanganui High School) is one such athlete. In the preliminary events held eight days before the main competition, Pye impressed by winning the under-16 section of the 300 metre hurdles with an excellent under-16 time of 45.59. At the championships he also won the 100m hurdles in 14.95 and added the100m/200m double, 11.71s and 24.34 respectively, later in the day to emerge as the leading intermediate boy at the championships in terms of titles won.
In the junior boys' grade, Samu Hermann (Whanganui Collegiate) took the 300m/200m double - the former in a competitive 40.66 seconds. Samu's older brother Daniel was in the Collegiate team to the World Schools Cross Country in 2008 and ran under 2 minutes for 800m and 4 minutes for 1500m. His younger brother also looks set for an exciting athletic future.
There were 25 individual girls who won at least one title. As mentioned last week, Maggie Jones won six titles. Three further girls - Emily Corcoran (High School), Louise Brabyn and Lucy Monckton (Collegiate) - snared three each.
In the boys, 28 won individual titles. Cody Pye (High School) won four and Nat Kirk (High School), Flynn Johnston (High School) George lambert and Daniel Sinclair (Collegiate) each won three.
The two largest teams (Whanganui Collegiate and Whanganui High School) had more than 66 per cent of the entries from the eight participating schools and provided 86 per cent of the winners, 83 per cent of the second places and 66 per cent of third places.
Competition is important for athlete development and the resurgence of athletics at High School has led to a more even sharing of top places (High School shading Collegiate in titles but had less second and third placings). There are athletes in all schools and it is our challenge to increase participation and with it excellence throughout our region. As I have said many times in this column athleticism (running, jumping, and throwing) is the vital ingredient of all our sports.
It is always pleasing to see athletes continue in the sport through to Year 13 even if their success for their first four years has for the most part been as relay team members.
Charlotte Baker (High School) with her win in the 400m, and third place in both the long jump and 300m hurdles, springs immediately to mind. Similarly, but without the reward of a title, were Ruby Sinclair (two third places) and Yasmin Christenhusz (Collegiate with a third and fourth placing).
Athletic attention switches to Hawke's Bay at the weekend and the postponed Athletics New Zealand Track and Field Championships. The event was scheduled at the start of the month but the move in alert levels led to a postponement.
The under-18 section has been left until later in the year, reducing the championships from three days to two and just at senior and under-20 grades. The Manawatū/Whanganui team has become much smaller, with only seven Whanganui athletes competing as opposed to close to 20 in the original format.
Athletics Whanganui Club captain Travis Bayler runs in the senior 800m in his senior debut. Jono Maples, currently stationed with the Air Force in Blenheim, has travelled north to run in his first Senior Nationals and his first race for more than a year. He competes in the 400m hurdles and 200m.
Maples will have the company of siblings Genna, who has battled injury through this season and is entered in the under-20 100m and 200m, and Lexi, who competes as a thrower for Canterbury and will be searching for another personal best in the hammer.
Lucas Martin, although still under 18, defends his under-20 10,000m walk title, while Sophie Andrews - now at University in Hamilton - competes in the under-20 javelin and hammer.
Flynn Johnston starts in the 400m hurdles while George Lambert has his first track 5000m and also his first steeplechase over the longer 3000m distance. Both are in good form, winning three titles at last week's Whanganui Secondary School Championships.
Lexi Maples is joined in the Canterbury colours by former Whanganui athlete and New Zealand Decathlon Champion Max Attwell. Josh Ledger (Wellington) and Tayla Brunger (Waikato) are other former Whanganui athletes competing this weekend in Hastings.