OPINION: Manawatu athletes can be well pleased with their performances at the New Zealand secondary schools championships in Dunedin last weekend, the highlights being Liam Carr's leap of 13.84 metres to win the senior triple jump and the winning effort of the Palmerston North Boys' High School junior 4x400m relay team.
This event does not have heats and finals, but the title is awarded to the team with the fastest time. The team of Dion Spackman, Paddy Kellow, Damein Wilson and Sam Kearins recorded 3min 37.81 seconds which proved to be the fastest of the two races.
The junior boys' 4x100m relay team of Kellow, Wilson, Kearins and Thomas Brookie went into the final with the fastest qualifying time after winning their heat in 45.37s. Although they improved on this time by running 45.32s in the final, they had to settle for the silver medal.
These performances continue the fantastic relay coaching record of Digger Doyle. I am still somewhat puzzled his successes have not been recognised at sports awards, surely a record second to none should have at least seen him as a finalist.
Stephanie Dickins' rivalry with McKenzie Keenan continued in the open 300m hurdles and once again Dickins had to be content with silver in a repeat of last year. She followed up this energy-sapping race with a fine run in the 400m, finishing third behind the highly-rated Talia Horgan. Looking at the results, I was interested to note two Wanganui athletes finished in the two positions immediately behind Dickins, indicating Athletics Manawatu-Wanganui have the makings of a very good 4x400m relay team at the Athletics New Zealand championships in March.
Kellow collected a complete set of medals after collecting bronze in the junior 400m final, finishing in 52.03s ahead of team-mate Kearins who finished fifth in 52.95s. Spackman also competed in this event, reaching the semifinal.
Feilding High School were delighted with the performances of their AWD athletes Jack Lewer and Carl Dryler. Lewer, competing in the AWD ID grade, broke the discus record with his first throw of 26.68m and improved on that with his second-round throw of 26.88m.
However, he had to settle for the silver medal, when Liam Smith from Lawrence got his second-round throw out to 27.00m. Lewer won a bronze medal in the shot put with his 8.94m effort.
Dryler competed in the AWD CP grade, won the shot put with a 4.27m effort, placed third in the 100m in 19.27sec and was fourth in the 200m in 43.88s.
■ A summary of other Manawatu performances:
Grace Burmiester finished fourth in the year 9 road race, an event in which Jharna Melbourne finished 12th and Jake Jackson-Grammer finished 17th in the senior boys' race.
Diana Solis made the semifinal of the junior girls 400m, running a personal best of 62.71s for sixth.
Thomas Brookie and Damein Wilson both contested the junior 200m with Wilson winning his heat in 23.65s, finishing second in the semifinal in 23.71s and was seventh in the final in 23.70s.
All these times were better than his previous season best times.
Brookie was second in his heat in 23.90s, again a season best but failed to qualify for the final after placing sixth in his semifinal.
He also contested the 100m, finishing second in his heat in 11.72s and seventh in his semifinal in 11.82s. Quin Hartley made the final of the senior boys 400m, finishing seventh in 51.96s.
Josh Baan was seventh in the senior boys 1500m, running 4min 6.12s while Liam Woolford had to settle for fifth in the 2km steeples as both these events were won in very classy times.
Stacey Gunn was sixth in the triple jump with a best leap of 10.80m but had less luck in the long jump with her only valid jump of 5.03m leaving her 12th. Liam Carr, after his triple jump victory, was another to have problems with the long jump, finishing 17th with 6.02m.
Congratulations to Liam Carr on being named in the New Zealand team to compete in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney next month.
■ Club treasurer Darren Gray has sent me a copy of the club registration list and it is pleasing to see registration is close to 200 members. However, what does concern me is that several of our more prominent athletes who have been competing regularly at both club and regional meetings do not appear. I would suggest with several important meetings early in the new year, they need to see Darren to rectify this oversight.
■ One of the more enjoyable sights on club night is seeing the tiny tots section having fun. I counted more than 20 youngsters racing down the back straight, legs going flat out with parents running alongside them, struggling to keep up. It is always great to receive feedback and I have heard a number of comments from people who cannot believe just how great our programme for these youngsters is. Katrina Gemmell is doing a great job, continuing the enormous debt of gratitude athletics in this area owe to the Gemmell family.
■ What's on:
December 10: Levin
December 11: Palmerston North programme B, Ashhurst
December 12: Feilding, Te Kawau
December 18: Palmerston North programme C (Christmas Special)
January 8: Palmerston North programme A
January 15: Manawatu Striders Super 7
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