As I write this report the results of last weekend’s North of England Senior Track and Field League March are still to be ratified, however the results are only a small part of bigger story.
The story begins in the days leading up to the competition. Charlie Sandowski realised he was available and volunteered to fill gaps in the team sheet, and in the process was offered lifts from three other members of the team, without that kind of team mentality we would not even be in a promotion position. Including Charlie’s late addition, the men’s team was full (with the exception of the pole vault) and the women’s team only had 6 places spare out of a possible 30.
When I spoke to Charlie on the day he said he would think about not only giving the pole vault a go over the winter but, if he enjoyed it, would think about learning to coach it too. The reason the teams were as full as they were was that throughout the day, without exception, athletes reviewed the team sheet and offered to “fill in” “man up” and “give it a go” as required. The team managers only had to point out that available places needed filling, the team did the rest.
When the action started we got off to a great start in the field with Katie James squeezing in a victory in the long jump before dashing off to fulfil a long-standing social engagement, rather than saying she couldn’t make it. Her training partner Joanna Lawler-Rhodes had to work in the morning but fortunately her triple jump wasn’t until later in the afternoon, more on that later.
When the track events started, Charlie and Jack Thorp both covered the 400m hurdles putting the team in a good early position as our challengers were not able to match our entries. The 800m followed quickly afterwards and Oliver Robinson (who got married on Thursday) showed up and did a fine job, along with Jack Muir, racking up points that could easily have gone begging. The pair also went on to dominate the 400m. Demetric Nelson was back in the team after missing the last two matches through injury, but more impressive was that fact that we had three others running in the non-scoring 100m (that is athletes who were competing in other events but who raced without there being any points up for grabs). One of those athletes was Ethan Hunt who in his first outing for the senior team jumped well in the long jump and anchored the 4 x 100m relay team to second place.
On the track and in the field for the ladies’ team were the versatile Francis sisters. Pheobe threw the hammer and ran the 1500m whilst Olivia threw the discus and raced in the 400m. Both sisters then joined Alana Gill and Harriet Paulat-Brigg to bring the 4 x 400m relay team home in second place. Abigail Allport continued to progress in both the field and on the track, winning the b-string long jump and a second place in the high jump narrowly missing a PB. She also put her sprint training to good use in the 100m and the 4 x 100m relay.
Jack Thorp was back in action in the 1500m and still managed to fit in an impressive 1.76m in the high jump. William Thompson also ran a strong 1500m race before lining up in the 4 x 400m team. Stephanie Robson returned from injury and initially was due to compete in the 800m. Once she had done that and the injury did not reoccur, she admirably went on to compete in the 1500 and 3000m races.
In a report about the team and how versatile and committed everyone was, one individual performance stood out. When I saw Joanna walking into the ground early in the afternoon, knowing she had already done a shift at work, we had a very short conversation which involved tiredness and her dislike of competing in hot weather. I watched her jumping from the other side of the track, so couldn’t tell how far she was jumping but she looked fast on the runway and her triple jumping looked rhythmical and powerful at the same time, a skill her coach Martin Green assures me is not easy to pull off. It was only after the event that I found out she had broken the club record (set before Joanna was born) by 25cm! Her new record is now 11.78m which on current age group rankings puts her in 11th place in the country. This huge personal achievement did nothing to dissuade Joanna from going on to lead off the women’s 4 x 100m relay team.
The day was packed with personal achievements, seasons bests and good old-fashioned commitment to the cause by a group of Harriers running jumping and throwing their hearts out for each other and the club. With just the relays to go we appeared to be doing enough in the overall competition to secure second place however the points earned by officials (up to 45) are added on at the end so the results were far from decided.
The ladies 4 x 100m were last at the first match, but ran to a creditable 3rd place on Saturday, the men’s team were just edged out of first place, and so it came down to just 8 people, four women, and four men, who had been competing hard since 1130 on a hot sunny day in a “stadium” with no shade, to try to secure victory and promotion for the club.
In the first match of the season the ladies’ team was unable to field a 4 x 400m relay team. Saturday was very different. They all ran with conviction and purpose finishing a close second to promotion rivals Scunthorpe Harriers. Our men’s team has been unbeaten all season in this league, despite not having the same team running in any two matches. That alone is a testament to the strength and depth we have in our squad at the moment and the commitment to the team from both sprinters and middle-distance runners.
It seems a long time ago that the 4 x 400m team was made up of the last four runners capable of getting around a lap each. To say the team dominated from start to finish seems a little disrespectful to the other teams racing, as everyone ran hard, but by the end of the third leg the result was not in doubt. Oliver Robinson brought the team home 13 seconds ahead of second place. The team celebrated the day’s successes by eating left over cakes from Oliver and Sophie’s wedding.
The results are now posted online, and it would appear that the efforts of all involved throughout the season have paid off. We won the match and secured second place in the league. Division 2 track and field athletics is on the cards for next season!
Keith Daniel, Coaching Co-ordinator
Full results can be viewed here: