The Hunter region has a crop of under-13 female sprinters who are leading the state in the speed department.
They include Port Stephens Little Athletics Club pair Grace Hewitt and Jacy Carter.
Hewitt has the fastest time over 200 metres in the state ahead of the NSW Little Athletics Championships being held in Homebush from Friday to Sunday.
The 13-year-old won the 200m title at the Hunter championships at Glendale last month, narrowly missing a long-standing regional record in the process.
She pipped second-placed Tiahna Skelton, Millie Stephenson was third, Paige Worley fourth and Carter fifth. all five are headed to the state carnival.
Hewitt, Skelton, Worley and Carter train together at Glendale under coach Pete Gentz and all four agreed they were pushing each other to faster times.
This will be the first time Carter competes at the state Little Athletics titles. She has also qualified for high jump.
“I’m just hoping to place and medal in the high jump and make the final of the 200,” Carter said.
The 13-year-old has noticed improvements since joining Gentz’s training squad at Glendale last year.
“Grace told me about it so I started coming too,” she said. “It’s good because she pushes me along and encourages me to push myself further.”
Hewitt competed in three events at state last year but will be solely focused on the 200m event this time. She is not feeling the pressure of having the quickest time for her age group.
“I’m excited but I’m not booking my places yet,” she said. “Last year I didn’t medal but it was a learning experience.”
When asked what it was like to have to line up against so many of her friends in the event, she said:
“We’re all pretty good friends at training, really friendly and happy but in competition we want to smash each other. We warm up together but on the track we are focused.”
“We still want each other to do well,” Carter added.
They will be part of a 10-member squad heading down to Homebush from the Port Stephens club. Lily Mullane is a strong medal hope in the under-10 discus and shot put events and Ben Esquilant in the under-14 boys 200m.
Raymond Terrace Little Athletics Club will send 17 athletes to Homebush and Medowie five.