Whanganui punches above weight

Rebecca Baker, is one of two Whanganui athletes rated highly on the New Zealand 1500m under 18 rankings.
PHOTO / Supplied

Cooks Gardens is the home of the mile in New Zealand and it is pleasing to see two local athletes placed high on the 1500 metre New Zealand rankings in the under 18 grade run regularly at the venue.

Liam Back is second on the under 18 1500 metre rankings behind fellow Manawatu/Whanganui athlete Benjamin Wall. Back has beaten Wall in major head-to-head contests and holds the New Zealand under 18 1500m title. Back also won the under 18 3000 metres (8:35 11) and 2000 metre Steeplechase (6:11.84) titles to top the rankings in both.

It is interesting to note that Liam's times over 5000m in Paris while running for NZ Schools at the ISF World Schools Cross Country and on the Collegiate Golf Course in preparation for his international debut would have headed the New Zealand under 18 rankings on the track and placed third at under 20 level among a very strong group of under 20 runners.

Rebecca Baker, in winning the North Island Schools 1500m in an outstanding personal best of 4:33.73, moves up to second in the under 18 rankings just behind the well-performed Taranaki runner Hannah O'Connor (a frequent visitor to Cooks Gardens). Baker also ranks 5th over 3000m at under 18 level. These outstanding performances will certainly add to Baker's considerable hockey strengths.

William Sinclair, who has just turned 18 a fortnight ago, is unfortunate that he has to move to the under 20 grade where in a strong cohort he ranks 9th in the 1500m rankings with an outstanding 3:56.99 when he lost to Back at the Centre Championships.

Sinclair's younger brother places 5th in the under 18 800 metre rankings with a 1:57.66 performance at the North Island Schools when he finished one place shy of the podium.

He also ranks 7th over 300m Hurdles three places behind Jonathan Maples in 4th (40.50), attained when winning the North Island Schools title.

Connor Munro, who made his debut over the event to gain second at the North Island, is 9th. In the female grades Sophie Redmayne, who finished second in the Senior Girls 300m hurdles, ranks 6th (46.85) and Isabel Brabyn, who finished 3rd in the Intermediate Grade at the same meeting, ranks 13th (48.55).

Whanganui athletes feature strongly over the Steeples. Back as mentioned earlier tops the under 18 rankings with Zach Bellamy 4th and George Lambert in 7th. In the Girls Ashleigh Alabaster, still only 14, is 6th in the under 18 with a strong performance (6:23.08) while her older sister Caitlyn is 7th.

The Whanganui middle distance future looks bright with Ana Brabyn and Nathaniel Kirk winning their respective under 14 800m at North Island with Brabyn backing this up with a 3rd in the 1500m.

Whanganui features strongly in relays with the Collegiate under 16 winning the New Zealand Schools 4x100m and 4x400m in record time.

The under 18 school quartet running for MWA (Tayla Brunger, Ana Brabyn, Sophie Redmayne and Genna Maples) in the NZ Championships not only took the title but their time of 3:56.64 tops the current rankings.

Another Collegiate combination won the Senior Girls North Island title (Tayla Brunger, Sophie Redmayne, Emma Osborne and Grace Godfrey) stopping the clock at 3:55.11 to top the New Zealand under 20 rankings.

At North Island Schools various Whanganui Combinations won two titles and had a further three podium places to demonstrate a real strength in the relay disciplines.

In the Jumps Genna Maples, as indicated last week, is second in the under 18 long jump rankings with Keiran Pere 5th in the under 20 rankings.

Two 14-year-old jumpers, Emma Bedford (high Jump) and Lucy Brown (long and triple jump), could well make a breakthrough before the year is out.

In throws, heptathlete Lexi Maples, who is now training in Christchurch, is our highest ranked athlete. She ranks both 6th in both Hammer and Shot while Sophie Andrews with another year in the under 18 grades ranks 10th = in Shot and 13th in Hammer with Phoebe Collier who also has time on her side ranks 11th in Javelin.

Whanganui had six New Zealand School's representatives over the season.
In track and field Tayla Brunger, Genna Maples, Grace Godfrey, Emma Osborne and Keiran Pere were part of a 23-strong team in Adelaide at the Australian All Schools in December.

Liam Back ran for the Cross Country Team in Paris at the ISF World Schools finishing 16th in an outstanding international debut. Whanganui has once again punched above its weight and the challenge ahead is to build further on this success.

By Alec McNab
Athletic Insight

Wanganui Chronicle 3/5/18