KATIE Loach leads a party of 19 Swindon athletes selected to represent Wiltshire at the South West Schools’ Track & Field Championships in Exeter today.

The 14-year-old Isambard School student has hopes of finishing on the podium in the junior girls’ hammer after an impressive performance in the county championships held on her home Swindon track last weekend.

Despite missing crucial training at the start of the year due to a knee injury Loach, under the careful guidance of her Harriers’ coach Alan Brown, has returned quickly to form and set a new championship record of 34.16m on Saturday.

Unfortunately, it was only good enough to earn Loach second place as Salisbury thrower Anna Merritt, who is ranked third in the UK in the under 15 girls’ age group, threw even further with 38.85m.

Nonetheless, on paper the pair look more than capable of finishing one-two for Wiltshire today and that would represent another big achievement for the North Swindon teenager after a difficult start to the year.

“I am so happy to be free from injury and competing again,” said Loach.

“I would like especially to thank my throws coach Alan Brown (John Dill at the Harriers also works with Loach) for being so supportive.”

The schools’ silver comes on top of the gold Loach won at the Wiltshire Clubs’ Championships last month when she threw a personal best of 35.54m for a new county record and underline her ability to raise her performance when it matters most.

Also in the hammer, Ridgeway School’s Joshua Ricketts will have high hopes for Exeter. Ricketts is top of the South West Under 17 Men’s Rankings in the hammer having thrown almost four meres further than his nearest rival so a regional medal is definitely within his capability.

He has also been selected for the shot, in which he finished runner-up by just one centimetre to Salisbury’s Josh Hole in the county championships so he will be looking to avenge that defeat.

With Trowbridge junior international and county champion Tom Gale in action at the England Athletics Championships as he seeks to cement his selection for the European Under 20s, Ridgeway School’s Johan Warensjo could be in with a chance of making the podium in the senior boys’ high jump.

Warensjo cleared 1.86m to finish behind Gale last weekend and if he can find his PB form that saw him jump 1.90m in the winter he will be a genuine contender.

The junior boys’ 1500m is always a hotly contested event and Harriers’ training partners Patrick Mochan and Jack Latus will hopefully rise to the occasion.

Last weekend Mochan of Lydiard Park Academy and Latus of Wootton Bassett School – they are coached by Kevin Buttle - both clocked personal bests of 4mins 28.2secs and 4:28.4 respectively as the finished one-two in the county qualifier.

The junior boys’ pole vault wasn’t held at the county championships but Commonweal School’s Jack Horne-Smith earned his selection as he is currently second in the South West Rankings.