The season sprung into life at the opening club night on a typically breezy spring evening.
At this time of the year, we share the ground with the Whanganui Heartland rugby team, preparing for their final fixture. There was rugby action in the midfield, full fields on the track, triple jump on the run-up under the grandstand with high jump back in place at the council end of the ground. There were encouraging large entries with nine heats needed to complete the 200m series (4 female heats and 5 male heats).
Franca Morrah was the first to cross the line, winning her 70m hurdle event in a smart 11.3s with Carrie Rennie taking the 80m hurdles in 14.0s with her twin sister Teresa finishing second, 0.7s in arrears.
Both Carrie Rennie and Franca had similar speeds over every 10 metres which suggest some good racing to come over the season. The top hurdle performance came from New Zealand School junior champion and Athletic New Zealand hurdle silver medallist Maggie Jones, who convincingly won in 15.1s (hand-timed).
The hurdles were run in the back straight to allow a tailwind for this early season outing.
Jones took the visitors' medal at the Collegiate Championship, run as part of the evening.
Jones ran the same time in the boys' race to help teammate Coby Pye, who was the sole starter.
Attention turned from hurdles to the 800m. Although many used the race to run just 500 or 600 metres as early season training, they helped ensure a good early pace.
Mackenzie Morgan, who had such an impressive cross country season, opened up on the field over the final 300m to win with a pleasing early-season 2m 21.96s in breezy conditions.
Year 9 Theodora Gempton took second in a personal best 2:30.88. The boys benefited from the pace set by club captain Travis Bayler through the first lap. Ben Conder and George Lambert took full advantage of this, each recording personal bests in their opening run of the season.
Conder ran 2m 02.87s to take the title from Lambert's 2:04.63. Both should be thrilled with their early season performances. Cross country specialist Lambert said afterwards: "I have never felt so good over two laps."
The biggest personal best of the day came from New Zealand junior champion race walker Lucas Martin, who took 16 seconds off his best 3000m performance in the combined run-walk. He stopped the clock at 13m 12.22s.
Maikaere Petley ran the distance in 11:18.68 to take line honours with Masters athletes Peter Jones and Rachel Richmond third and fourth respectively. Richmond completed her first half marathon at the weekend.
Aria Caroll took the 200m title in some pain with a stomach cramp (27.29s) ahead of Ana Brabyn with Travis Bayler taking the male grade (22.69s) from Jakob Moorhouse, with the school-age Moorhouse taking the visitors' medal.
The high Jump went with the form book with Harvey Meyer winning the boys at 1.60m and narrowly failing at 1.65m with Emma Bedford jumping an encouraging early-season 1.50m in the female event.
Meyer, who is the Collegiate record holder at 1.86m, showed glimpses of his old form and once he can adjust to the run-up back in its proper place, he will return to more impressive jumping.
Arian Drabble, who lives in Southland and boards at Collegiate, won the triple jump in 9.42m with signs that there is better to come. Yasmin Christenhusz was second, Edie Franks in her first-ever triple showed considerable promise. The boys' winner was Jacky Dai (11.97m) who has the potential to jump 13 metres in the very near future.
The programme continues next week with the A programme featuring 100m, 400m and 1500m on the track and shot and long jump in the field.
Next Tuesday's event is the first outing before the opening Regional League Meeting in Hastings on October 31. This is one of a series of three, with the middle one at Cooks Gardens.