There were sparkling performance to match the sparkling early autumn day on Wednesday at the Whanganui Secondary Schools Championships at Cooks Gardens
Few sparkled more than the Maggie Jones (Whanganui High School) who added a further five titles to the 300m hurdles title won eight days earlier. The New Zealand Schools silver medal hurdler set an outstanding personal best time of 14.57 seconds over the 100m hurdles and later added the 100m (12.82) and 200m (26.82) sprint double.
Jones also won the long jump (4.92m) and high jump (1.55m). Jones like other leading athletes put the disappointment of the postponement of the New Zealand Champs behind them providing a whole raft of personal best performances.
Flynn Johnston (High School) had an outstanding afternoon taking a sprint treble (100m, 200m and 400m in the senior boys). His 100m win was by one of the closest margins of the day when over the final 20m he overhauled race leader Waqua Waqaicece (Collegiate) to win by three one hundredths of a second.
In both the 200m and 400m he beat teammate Nat Kirk winning in 23.85 and 52.50, respectively. He was second to Kirk over 110m hurdles and eight days earlier over 300m hurdles. Johnston is an athlete who has made huge progress over this season and will be back in action as he steps up to 400m hurdles at next week's postponed New Zealand Championships. Kirk again impressed with his versatility winning both hurdle races (300 and 110m) and the javelin and was third in the discus adding to his aforementioned second places in 200 and 400m.
There was nothing close about Bella Willis' (Collegiate) winning margin in the intermediate girls 400m. Her time of 58.16 was a significant personal best and moves her into the national rankings. Her winning margin of nearly nine seconds was impressive and one of the largest of the day. Willis added the 200m titles an hour later and is clearly an athlete with an exciting future,
Daniel Sinclair (Collegiate), winner of the junior steeplechase a week ago, won the 1500m, 800m intermediate boys double (2:05.67 and 4:10.09 respectively). The 1500m was particularly impressive and a full four seconds better than his previous best. George Lambert (Collegiate) had the same treble; the steeplechase a week earlier and strong winning performances over 800m and 1500m. The latter was a personal best 4:09.09 which should lift his confidence for the under-20 New Zealand Championships next weekend in Hastings.
Olivia Pickford (Rangitikei College) who won the senior girls hammer last week added the shot (11.45) and the discus (22.45) on Wednesday with V'Chay Hemopo the other Rangitikei College winner in the intermediate boys long jump. Taihape Area saw success with Taylor Hay-Martin (junior boys shot 12.08), Hinemoa Rolston (junior girls shot 10.03) and finished second behind teammate Anahera Bennet in the junior girls discus.
The Rennie twins (High School) were again prominent with Teresa winning both the 300m hurdles (last week) and the 80m hurdles on Wednesday with sister Carrie second in the latter. Teresa also won the 100m and Carrie the long jump in the intermediate girls grade.
Louise Brabyn (Collegiate) dominated the intermediate girls middle distance events. A week ago, she won the steeplechase with a pleasing 7:48.78 and on Wednesday she won the 3000m and also the 1500m (5:052.6). In all three in winning the intermediate grade she was event winner in combined grades against older girls.
Emily Corcoran (High School) with wins in the junior 70m hurdles and 300m, Mathew Sinclair (Collegiate) with wins in the junior boys 800m and 1500m, Mady Petley (Collegiate) 800 and 1500m junior girls, Lucy Monckton (Collegiate) senior 1500 and 3000m, Aria Bannister (High School) long and triple jump junior girls, Emily Hutchins (High School) 100 and 200m junior girls, Cody Campbell (High School) discus and javelin and Samu Herman 200m and 300m junior boys were other athletes to take two titles.
Only hours after the championships it is difficult to do justice to the many good athletes and their performances. I will follow up in greater depth on this snapshot of Wednesday's events in next week's Athletics Insight column.