Manawatu has strong contenders from small f ield at nationals

23:00, Dec 03 2012

This weekend the focus moves to Dunedin, as the New Zealand secondary schools championships are contested.

No doubt the cost of travelling south has contributed to a smaller number than usual of Manawatu athletes appearing on the entry lists when I last checked, with some noticeable absences.

Palmerston North Boys' High School has the largest contingent competing with its best prospect being Liam Carr who contests the senior long jump and triple jump. A junior titleholder at last year's championships, we will all be hoping he can step up and take the senior titles.

Digger Doyle has one of the best records of producing winning relay teams, usually without a star, and once again has strong-looking teams in both the junior boys 4x100m and 4x400m relays.

Thomas Brookie and Damien Wilson spearhead the shorter relay team and are both entered in the 100m and 200m sprints. Paddy Kellow, Sam Kearins and Dion Spackman will contest the 400m race as well as the 4x400m.

Joshua Baan has been in good form and is not without a chance in the senior boys' 1500m. Jake Jackson-Grammer has a class field up against him in the senior 3000m but should rate a good chance in the 6km road race. Liam Woolford was a surprise medallist in the 2km steeples at the Athletics New Zealand championships in March and only needs to turn in another performance like that to be a serious contender in Dunedin.


Stephanie Dickins (Feilding High School) will be the big hope among the girls. An athlete who never leaves anything in the tank, Steph contests both the 300m hurdles and 400m and is a definite medal prospect in both events.

Stacey Gunn (Freyberg High School) is another strong contender who has put a lot of work in on the training track which will hopefully bring rewards as she contests both the senior girls' long and triple jump events. The younger athletes are often those who produce the surprises, mainly because we see them competing in open competition where they appear to be struggling, but when they go back to compete in own age group they more than hold their own.

Athletes who come into this category include Diana Solis-Trueba (Awatapu College) who will run the junior 400m, Georgia Whiteman (Palmerston North Girls' High School) the junior 100m and 80m hurdles with Jharna Melbourne (Girls' High) and Grace Burmeister (Tararua College) contesting the 3km road race.

I am certain all these athletes will do the region proud

■ Some great performances at last week's club night with Andy Kruy managing a personal best in the long jump, leaping 7.17m.

Luck was on Andy's side as it was just prior to this jump that the anemometer was moved over to the long jump runway.

With a valid wind reading, Andy's jump can be listed in the national rankings.

On the track, Kara Macdermid set a stadium open record for the 1000m, crossing the line in 2min 54.40sec. Nine-year-old Ashleigh Gunn continues to rewrite the under-10 stadium records, improving on her 600m record.

■ A couple of weeks ago I attended a starters training course in Lower Hutt conducted by one of the countries top starters, Wendy Fox-Turnbull from Christchurch.

The session was made interesting as Wendy had arranged for some of the athletes to deliberately infringe, putting participants to the test.

One of the more interesting aspects was the change in interpretation now being adopted as far as the "one break you're out" rule.

The rule is now being applied so motion by an athlete that does not include or result in the athlete's feet losing contact with the plates of the starting block, or the athlete's hands losing contact with the ground, shall not be considered the commencement of the start and the cause of a false start.

Previously an athlete who rocked or twitched in the set position was disqualified.

In cases where this happens, if the athlete doesn't settle, the starter should abort the start and restart the procedure.

There are procedures in place to penalise an athlete if this is deemed deliberate.

■ What's on. -

December 4: Palmerston North Programme A, Ashhurst

December 5: Feilding, Te Kawau

December 8-9: New Zealand secondary schools, Dunedin

December 10: Levin

December 11: Palmerston North Programme B, Ashhurst

December 12: Feilding, Te Kawau

Manawatu Standard