Genna Maples, in her first race since March, gave her Whanganui team the perfect start to the home Regional League Meeting at Cooks Gardens at the weekend by winning the 300 metre hurdles.
Maples, who has missed all this new season with injury, ran in what was only her second run over the long hurdles to record an excellent 45.37. New Zealand under 18 silver medal winner and fellow Whanganui club member Maggie Jones finished second (46.50) with Cassie Glentworth securing a local trifecta with a pleasing 48.19 second effort.
Jones later won the 100 metre hurdles in 15.46 battling against a strong 4 metre/second headwind.
The last time Maples competed was at a club night straight after the New Zealand Championships in March over 300 metre hurdles where Jones prevailed.
Nathaniel Kirk was again very impressive winning the male event with another stylish effort. The Year 11 Whanganui High School athlete has the credentials to make a real statement in his senior New Zealand Schools debut.
The Rennie twins battled out the 70 metre hurdles with Carrie edging out her sister Teresa by two one-hundredths of a second (13.09 – 13.11) with Franca Morrah not far behind in a personal best 13.49. Whanganui hurdlers could make an impact at New Zealand Schools in Tauranga in early December.
It was a bittersweet day for Maples as later in the meet she pulled up in the relay with a re-occurrence of her hamstring after her warm-up was compromised by issues with her relay team. This is a setback, however, the prognosis is encouraging.
Seldom at a regional meet have there been so many qualified walk judges, with a full quota of qualified judges from the officiating course in Whanganui at the weekend.
New Zealand Schools champion Daniel du Toit, who had been disqualified at the New Zealand Road Championships a week earlier, won the race from the in-form Lucas Martin (featured last week). Martin gained considerable consolation by setting a Manawatū/Whanganui and a Whanganui Collegiate record stopping the clock in 13:12.05, importantly without a caution.
Tayla Brunger who won the 100 metre/200 metre double in the opening round in Hastings a fortnight earlier successfully stepped up to 400 metres winning in far from ideal conditions in 56.13. Club captain Travis Bayler was third in the men's division 51.85.
There were a number of personal bests over the classic 1500 metres. Ben Conder was 5th in a good male field (4:11.81) further down the field Elliot Jones took six seconds off his best (4: 40.87).
In the women's race, 14-year-old Louise Brabyn sliced 10 seconds off her best to run under 5 minutes for the first time to finish 5th one place ahead of Theodora Gempton who became the first Whanganui Collegiate Year 9 student to run under 5 minutes for 1500m (4:57.21).
In jumping events Jack Dai was just 3cm shy of his best to finish third in the triple jump, 12.63, one place better than Keela Cashmore who equalled her best in the women's triple. Cashmore earlier had set a best in long jump (4.71) to finish 5th while in the high jump Emma Bedford equalled her best (1.52m) to finish 5th.
Whanganui's other winning performance came from Lucy Monckton in her debut 2000 metre steeplechase against similar debutants. Young Daniel Sinclair who had run so well over 1500 metres in Hastings moved up to 3000 metres finishing second in the combined 3000m/5000m race.
The division was won by New Zealand under 18 champion Will Anthony in 8:37.26, almost a minute ahead of 15 year-old Sinclair. Antony, who a week earlier had won the New Zealand under 18 road title, will be hard to beat in Tauranga.
Whanganui picked up to third in the league competed for by a dozen clubs. Sophie Andrews scored valuable points in throws with 2nd in the javelin (31,46) a 7th in the hammer (34.54) and 5th in the discus (30.88).
At club night on Tuesday Andrews threw the lighter hammer to a personal best 42.06. Nat Kirk 5th in the men's javelin (43.23) was our only other points scorer in throwing events.
Saturday's regional catered for all events except pole vault in a tight five-hour programme well supported by clubs throughout the lower North Island. There were five heats in the men's 100 metres and four in the 200 metres with similar numbers for women.
The format of graded heats by ability allowed a wide range of ability groups, not just the elite, to get meaningful competition. The large team of officials and volunteers did an excellent and vital job.
The regional league concludes in Masterton on Saturday, November 28 just a fortnight before New Zealand Schools in Tauranga.