MORPETH Harriers defended their senior titles with an impressive display at the re-arranged North Eastern Counties Signals Road Relay Championships held at Hetton Lions Park with thanks again to hosts Houghton Harriers and especially Peter Dodsworth whose tireless work prior to and during the fixture is greatly appreciated.
SENIOR WOMEN – 4x2.4 mile
Morpeth got the day’s proceedings off to a perfect start with victory in the senior women’s four-stage contest thanks to the fastest time of the day by Catriona Macdonald, whose 12:31 was 30 seconds quicker than when she ran the opening stage for the Northumbrians in 2019.
Jarrow and Hebburn (Alexis Dodd) were in second place 28 seconds adrift at the first changeover. However, the South Tyneside outfit were in pole position after moving to the front on stage two thanks to Alex Sneddon’s 13:09 effort which turned round the deficit into over a minute advantage at the half-way point of the contest.
The lead changed once again on leg three when former Alnwick athlete Millie Breeze regained the lead for Morpeth thanks to the second fastest overall time of the day of 12:43. Going into the final stage Morpeth had a cushion of 17 seconds, which saw fit-again Rachel Falloon extend the advantage to 45 seconds at the finish. Jarrow and Hebburn were clear runners-up as Gateshead, with Beth Curran their quickest (13:38), completed the one-one-two-three.
LEADING RESULTS – Senior Women (4x2.4 mile): 1 Morpeth 52:54; 2 Jarrow and Hebburn) 53:39; 3 Gateshead 57:27; 4 Sunderland 1:00:47; 5 Gosforth 1:02:19; 6 Durham City 1:02:33. Fastest legs: 1 C Macdonald (Morpeth) 12:31s; 2 M Breeze (Morpeth) 12:43; 3 A Dodd (Jarrow and Hebburn) 12:59; 4 E Hardie (Houghton) 13:02; 5 A Sneddon (Jarrow and Hebburn) 13:09; 6 R Falloon (Morpeth) 13:09.
MASTERS’ MEN (Over-50) 4x2.4 mile
The Over-50 Masters’ contest was run in conjunction with the senior women and it was the male quartets who held the upper hand with the first three teams finishing ahead of the first senior women’s foursome.
And, once again, it was Morpeth who were celebrating after Guy Bracken – formerly of North Shields Poly – who gave his team the perfect start with the second fastest time of the day of 12:19. North Shields Poly were in second place just five seconds behind thanks to Greg Penn with Sunderland in third (Tim Field) just under a minute further adrift.
The leading positions stayed the same for the rest of the contest with Lee Bennett, not content to ease home, running the last stage for Morpeth and posting the day’s fastest time of 11:56.
Morpeth’s total time was 50:56; North Shields Poly closed in with 52:22 with Sunderland, whose Chris Auld ran a storming last leg of 12:36, finished on 52:45.
LEADING RESULTS - Masters’ Men over-50: 1 Morpeth 50:56; 2 North Shields Poly 52:22; 3 Sunderland 52:45; 4 Houghton 55:21; 5 Birtley 57:19; 6 North Shields Poly B: 57:31. Fastest legs: 1 L Bennett (Morpeth) 11:56; 2 G Bracken (Morpeth) 12:19; 3 G Penn (North Shields Poly) 12:24; 4 C Auld (Sunderland) 12:36; 5 J Baty (North Shields Poly) 13:02; 6 E Sweeney (Sunderland) 13:05.
MASTERS WOMEN 4x2.4mile
It’s a pleasure to report a victory for a club from the south of the region and it was a success for New Marske Harriers on this occasion. Birtley were ahead on the opening stage thanks to Tracy Millmore who handed over just a second in front of Crook’s Joanne Raine with Jarrow and Hebburn (Rachel Brehney) in third place with the eventual winners (Gemma Harcombe-Moore) back in fourth spot.
A sizzling 13:24 by Kay Neesam on stage two, which was the fastest of the day, saw New Marske hit the front and from then on they were never headed despite the efforts of Lorna Graham and Lisa Short on the final two stages for Birtley. Sunderland Strollers, thanks to Aly Dixon’s final stage time of 13:25, helped the Wearsiders’ receive the bronze awards and relegate South Shields into fourth place
LEADING RESULTS - Masters Women (4x2.4 mile) 1 New Marske 58:13; 2 Birtley 58:20; 3 Sunderland Strollers 59:26; 4 South Shields 59:40; 5 Crook 1:00:07; 6 North Shields Poly 1:02:33. Fastest legs: K Neesam (New Marske) 12:34s; 2 A Dixon (Sunderland Strollers) 13:35; 3 F Dembele (South Shields) 13:54; 4 N Newson (North Shields Poly) 14:04; 5 T Millmore (Birtley) 14:13; 6 J Raine (Crook) 14:14.
SENIOR MEN 6x2.4 mile
Morpeth Harriers, with a mix of experienced and younger athletes, held off a determined challenge from 2019 champions, Sunderland Harriers, to retain the impressive Signals by over two minutes.
Ever-improving Houghton athlete Luke Pickering, led the field home at the first changeover with the day’s overall fastest time of 10:39. Sunderland (Liam Taylor) were in second place six seconds behind with Matthew Briggs for the eventual winners a further 11 seconds adrift.
On stage two the title holders moved into the lead thanks to Alistair Douglas’s effort of 11:08 with Sunderland consolidating second place ahead of Tyne Bridge (Marc Fenwick) as Birtley moved into fourth thanks to the efforts of recent triple NE Counties under-17 gold medallist Chris Perkins.
Once ahead there was no stopping Morpeth with David Melling, Tom Straughan, Phil Winkler – fourth fastest overall with 10:53 - and Ross Floyd all producing their fastest stage times to come home in 1:06:18. Sunderland held on to second place despite a strong effort from Gateshead with just nine seconds separating the squads at the line after over an hour’s contest.
LEADING RESULTS - Senior Men (6x2.4 mile): 1 Morpeth 1:06.18; 2 Sunderland 1:08.43; 3 Gateshead 1:08.52; 4 Birtley 1:09.51; 5 Morpeth B 1:10.21; 6 Tyne Bridge 1:11.42. Fastest legs: L Pickering (Houghton) 10:39s; 2 L Taylor (Sunderland) 19:45; 3 C Perkins (Birtley) 10:52; 4 P Winkler (Morpeth) 10:53; 5 M Fenwick (Tyne Bridge) 10:55; 6 M Briggs (Morpeth) 10:56.
MASTERS (over-40) 6x2.4 mile
A strong Darlington sextet were in control from the gun as John Clifford gave them the lead on the first leg after posting the fastest time of the day of 11:26. Sunderland were in second place with Elswick in third position followed by Morpeth back in fourth spot. Darlington continued to dominate as they reached the half-way point with Sunderland still in second place as Morpeth, cheered on by a swift 11:42 by John Butters, moved into third place ahead of Elswick. Sunderland closed slightly on leg four, but Darlington pulled away on the final legs thanks to Wesley Tarn’s closing stage effort of 12:25.
LEADING RESULTS - Masters’ over-40 (6x2.4 mile): 1 Darlington 1:15.36; 2 Sunderland 1:16.39; 3 Morpeth 1:19.21; 4 Elswick 1:21.18; 5 Sunderland B 1:26.12; 6 North Shields Poly 1:26.48. Fastest legs: 1 J Clifford (Darlington) 11:26s; 2 J Butters (Morpeth) 11:42; 3 P Blakey (Sunderland) 11:50; 4 A Ball (Elswick) 12:04; 5 S Thurlbeck (Sunderland) 12:14; 6 C Jackson (Sunderland) 12:15.
ENGLAND 5,000 metres champion Elisha Tait makes her international debut when she lines up in the Manchester International at the Regional Arena on August 18.
The Gateshead endurance athlete lines up in a match against teams from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, GB under-18 and under-20 squads and a National Athletics League selection.
Fellow Gateshead athletes Joy Eze and David Race also make the trip to the North West together with North Shields Poly’s James Wordsworth. Eze, the European Junior bronze medalist, represents GB&NI under-18s over her favoured 100m and is also named in the under-20 4x100m relay squad while, in the same age group, Race contests the 1500m. Wordsworth, the current National discus champion, takes his place in the GB&NI under-20 team. Congratulations to you all and good luck.
Good luck also to all the North East athletes heading for Sportcity, Manchester this weekend for the England under-15/17 Championships.
THE Shields Poly’s James Wordsworth took full advantage of the rearranged throws competition at Gateshead’s throws field by producing a superb new pb in the discus.
Nineteen competitors of all ages lined up but it was the Neil Ellerby-coached Wordsworth who had the final say as, after 45:46m and 45:67m in the early rounds, winged the discus out to 48:13m, a distance which sees him consolidate fifth place in the Po10 rankings as he chases the European Junior Championship qualifying distance of 57:00m.
Another under-20 athlete setting a new life-time best was Border raider Harry Miles whose best throw was 41:36m.
Other notable performers in the discus contest included Gateshead’s Grace McDonald who threw a season’s best of 32:17m in the under-17 age group while there were new pbs for under-15 North Shields Poly girls Georgia Turner and Hannah Lott with distances of 23:32m and 12:77m respectively. Jarrow and Hebburn’s Poppy Docherty competing in the under-20 section, also produced a new pb of 20:57m.
There was a quick turnaround by the officials to get the hammer competition underway where, once again 19 competitors took to the circle and it was another Cumbria athlete who led the way. After opening his campaign with a victory (47:42m) in Kilmarnock earlier in the month under-20 athlete Danny Gracie, coached by experienced John Little at the Carlisle-based club, was in determined mood to improve on that performance and that he certainly did. After disappointing throws of 34:43m, 37:64m and a foul in the early rounds, Gracie pulled out a huge 54:34m in the fourth round to add well over a metre to his life-time best set over a year previously.
Gracie wasn’t the only hammer thrower to go home with new figures to their name. Competing in the under-15 age group North Shields Poly’s Kaitlyn Waddell threw 38:48m while at under-17 level there were new pbs for Gateshead’s Talia Thompson (33:74m) and Morpeth’s Edward Gardiner (29:94m).
Thanks go to the NEGP committee for quickly arranging the throws event after they were cancelled the week earlier and to the officials who took to their posts at very short notice.
HOUGHTON’S Cameron Allan was in superb form at the inaugural Manchester Invitational meeting as he headed a sprinkling of athletes from the region at Sportcity.
Fresh from setting a 3,000m life-time best of 8:07.73 earlier in the month at Worthing, the Northern Cross-Country bronze medallist carried that form over to win the 5,000m in Manchester in 14:05.12, which blew away his previous best of 14:54.12 set in 2019.
And Allan wasn’t the only person from the region celebrating a victory. City of York’s former British University’s champion (2018) Robert Shipley, now based on Tyneside and coached by Max Coleby, won the 400m in a season’s best of 48.60s. Max, however, was brought down to earth later in day when another of his athletes, Daniel Rees (Shaftesbury Barnet) finished in fourth place in the 400m hurdles but he was out-gunned as another Tyneside-based athlete, William Ritchie-Moulin (Birchfield), coached by Max’s wife Julie, finished second in the race in a season’s best of 52.96s!
England multi-event international Lucy Turner produced two season’s best when finishing fourth in the 100m hurdles (14.46s) and fifth in the long jump (5:60m) while fellow Gateshead athlete, Scott Hall, finished in fourth place in the 100m in 11.04s.
Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson was also in action where she produced a season’s best of 4:27.73 to finish seventh in the 1,500m.
THE second North East Grand Prix of the season at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium fittingly hosted 800 metre races with the winner of the A event receiving the Jimmy Hedley Trophy. And Jimmy would be full of praise for the way the exciting two-lap contest unfolded in front of an enthusiastic crowd of parents and coaches who, for the first time in over a year, roared on the eight athletes.
From the gun it was Hartlepool AC’s Scott Temple who shot to the front, determined to make it a brisk, true-run race. Approaching the 200m point the Teessider held a slight lead being tracked by two other teenagers Josh Blevins (Gateshead) and Birtley’s Chris Perkins with defending champion Alistair Douglass (Morpeth) shadowing the leading trio. At the bell, reached in 57 seconds, Josh eased into the lead with Chris, Alistair and North Shields Poly’s Zak Old all edging past the early pace-setter. The placings remained the same until, with 200m to go, Chris burst to the front making Alistair having to run wide round the final bend which gave Chris first run for the line which he took full advantage down the home straight to come home around six metres clear to record a new life-time best of 1min 54.88secs, a time which sees him sit proudly at number three in the season’s under-17 rankings.
On hand to present the trophy to the winner was Jimmy Hedley’s daughter Dianne who commented afterwards: “What a great race, I think my Dad would have been proud especially with so many young athletes in the race.’’ Despite his best efforts Alistair had to be content with the runners-up spot (1:56.10) on this occasion while Josh, in third place and Zac, who was fourth, crossed the line in 1:56.82 and 1:57.39 respectively. Scott, meanwhile, finished in fifth place but was rewarded with a new pb of 1:58.91, only the second time he has dipped under two minutes.
Once the excitement had died down there were another eight two-lap encounters to enjoy and, here again, many produced new pbs.
The quickest under-13 girl on view was also a Hartlepool athlete, Neve Watson, whose time of 2:36.24 is not only a new pb but it squeezes her into the Po10 top 20. William Jardine (Durham City) continued his impressive start to the season by recording another pb of 2:21.46 which moves him to ninth in the under-13 boys age group.
In the under-15 section Elswick’s Poppy Old recorded 2:17.87 while Sam Martin (Durham City) clocked 2:10.24 both athletes setting new pbs placing them 15th and 16th in their respective rankings.
Chester-le-Street’s Lucy Scothern was also in pb form recording 2:13.00 which places her seventh in the latest listings. Another Chester athlete, Freya Clarkson, also set a new pb of 2:17.85 contesting the under-20 age group.
Before the 800m races got underway, the opening event on the programme was the 80m hurdles for under-17 women and it was a triumph for Blaydon’s May McDonald who set a new pb of 12.12s, a time which slots her 13th in the rankings. Millie Train (Blyth`) and Anna Fitzpatrick (North Shields Poly), in second and third, also set new pbs of 12.67s and 12.69s respectively.
It was the turn of the sprinters next to face the starter with 11 200m races to be decided. Southern visitor Matthew Harris (Guildford and Godalming) was quickest on view winning the final race in a season’s best of 22.68s, just outside his best-ever of 22.49s. The judges had to be on their toes to decide the minor placings with Durham University student William Ritchie-Moulin getting the verdict for second place (22.73s) over Sunderland’s Jordan Beavers who recorded 22.79s.
Jarrow and Hebburn’s Nicola Caygill was the leading woman, also with a season’s best of 25.61s while Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis was quickest under-20 with 25.87s. The best under-20 men’s performance was recorded by Chester-le-Street’s Luke Russell with a time of 23.26s.
At under-17 level Melody Brooks (North Shields Poly) set a new pb of 25.99s to move to 16th in Po10 rankings while Dylan Love led home five Gateshead club-mates in his race to claim bragging rights with a 23.17s clocking. Hannah Wilson (Blyth) and Rhys Brunton (North Shields Poly) with new pbs of 26.97s and 24.97s respectively were the leading under-15s while there were also new pbs at under-13 level for Chester-le-Street’s Owen Barron (26.64s) and April McAuley-Zechner (Phoenix Flyers) who recorded 29.31s. Owen is now ranked eighth while April slots into the top 20.
Four 3,000 metres races were the final track events on the programme and the A race was a fitting finale to a slick programme enjoyed by those who were still in the stadium. Talented Gateshead teenager David Race took up the running from the gun and led the 13-strong field for the first four circuits. Closely tracking him were Sam Hancox (Morpeth), Luca Minale (Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets), English National Cross-Country champion Calum Johnson (Gateshead) as Carl Smith (Tyne Bridge) led the chasing pack. Just after half-way David was released from his leading duties as Calum, who was having his first track race since 2012, eased to the front and started to pull away from his main rivals. Luca also managed to overtake David but the gap to the leader was ever-widening and at the finish the cross-county, triathlon athlete came home with a comfortable advantage to record a pb of 8:16.91. Luca, also with a pb of 8:24.79, held off the strong finish of David whose new pb of 8:25.54 moves him to seventh in the Po10 rankings. Meanwhile, behind the leading trio Carl paced himself nicely to come through and claim fourth place in 8:27.61. Such was the high quality of the event nine of the athletes posted pbs with the remaining setting season bests.
At the other end of the age group Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon consolidated her position at the top of the under-15 girls 3,000m with another excellent pb of 10:04.57. In the boys’ section Darlington’s Harry Lyons also set a new pb of 9:37.73, a time which places him seventh in the Po10 listings.
At under-17 level there were pbs for Morpeth’s Bertie Marr (9:09.91) and Birtley’s Katie Francis (10:23.32) while Emily Chung (Chester-le-Street) showed a good return to form to post a season’s best of 10:22.57 in the under-20 age group. Houghton’s Eva Hardie ran a new pb of 10:03.47 to be the leading lady on the night.
In a rearranged field event programme, Blyth’s Abigail Huntly cleared 1:25m to win the under-13 high jump which is the seventh best in the country; Jarrow and Hebburn’s Grace Arthur cleared 1:50m to lead the under-15s while Anna Fitzpatrick (North Shields Poly) had a best of 1:55m to head the under-17 competition.
An exciting under-17/20 high jump resulted in a victory for Blyth’s Koffi Avornyo (u-17) with a clearance of 1:79m while Thomas Patterson (u-20, Jarrow and Hebburn) set a new pb of 1:71m.
In the throws Talia Thompson (Gateshead) won both the under-17 shot and javelin contests with 11:01m and 22:37m respectively while Darcy Lines (u-13, Chester-le-Street) produced a pb distance of 7:31m to move to ninth in the UK rankings.
Other shot put performances included Calum Chambers (u-13, Birtley) 7:28m; Leila Thompson (u-15, Gateshead) 9:99m; Fynn Errington (u-17, Gateshead) 9:83m; Ashley Watson (u-20, Hartlepool) 8:25m and Jacqueline Etherington (sen, NE Vets) 7:54m.
In the javelin, there was a new pb of 8:54m for Birtley’s Noah Williamson at under-13 level while Gateshead trio Skye Marshall, Phoebe Hall and Cameron Marshall all headed their particular age group with throws of 22:67m, 30:94m and 38:82m.
Finally, special mention must be made of Darlington Harriers stalwart Ian Barnes as he set a new M85 age group record for the 3k at Monkton stadium tonight, finishing in 16:34.42. Great running from Ian, well done!
I’m sure all competitors would like to say a huge thank you all the officials and volunteers who were at their best to see that the meeting kept to a tight schedule and now look forward to the next NEGP set for the same venue on June 2 when the Stan Long Mile will be decided.
HONOURS GO TO HARROGATE IN OPENING NEYDL FIXTURE
THE belated start to the NEYDL season didn’t deter Harrogate Harriers coming out on top in the Division One contest at Middlesbrough Sports Village.
The Yorkshire outfit brought an extremely-strong squad to Teesside and it was no surprise at the end of the day they were victorious after totalling 805.5 points, over 100 points clear of second-placed North Shields Poly with the combined Darlington/Alerton team holding off Gateshead by two points for third place.
Despite lack of competition for all of the athletes due to Covid it came as a huge surprise the standard of competition from the six-teams taking part with many competitors setting new life-time bests in their events.
One of the eye-catching athletes on show was Harrogate’s William Reid who earned maximum points in the 100 metres hurdles, long jump and triple jump, setting new pbs in all three. He won the hurdles in 14.4secs, the long jump with 6:25 metres and triple jump with 12:31m, the two vertical jumps slotting him into fifth place in the Po10 rankings.
Another Harrogate athlete at the top of her game was Eleanor Colburn who won both the under-17 300m and 800m in new league record times of 40.2s and 2:07.6 respectively, times which sees her lead the way in the country this year.
Other notable under-17 performances included Gateshead’s Grace McDonald who won the hammer competition with a pb throw of 45:32m which sees her ranked sixth in Po10 and she also claimed victory with a throw of 28:05m in the discus.
The under-17 women’s 300m hurdles was won by Harrogate’s Therese Tolan in 48.8s with team-mate Minnie Axon winning the B-string contest in 49.4s. An exciting under-17 men’s 200m resulted in a win for Harrogate’s Jacob Hockin in 23.5s with Liam Townson (Gateshead) finishing runner-up in 23.9s and Morpeth’s Evan Logan finishing in third place in 24.0s. The B race went to Gateshead’s Joshua Hickson in 24.0s, all four athletes setting new pbs.
The outstanding performance among the under-15 competition came in the boys hammer event where Gateshead’s Joseph Perkins, in his first outing of the season, produced a throw of 42:62m, a distance which places him second in the Po10 rankings, Joseph also claimed victory in the shot with a put of 10:04m. In the girls hammer contest North Shields Poly’s Kaitlyn Waddell posted a good pb with a winning throw of 37:87m, a distance which moves her into sixth place in the rankings.
Another field event performance of note came in the javelin with Gateshead’s Phoebe Hall producing a throw of 31:24m.
On the track there were good successes for Harry Lyons (Darl/Aller) who won the 1,500m in 4:31.2; Sadie Parker (Blyth/Alnwick) who triumphed in the 300m in 44.1s; Zara Jones (Darl/Aller) recorded 2:26.5 to win the 800m – Lauren Creaby (Blyth/Alnwick) was second in 2:27.4 – and Hannah Lott (North Shields Poly) who won the 75m hurdles in 12.2s.
Amongst the under-13 competitions, Morpeth’s Daniel Scott won the 1,500m in his first venture over the distance and posted a superb 4:45.0 which sees him in fourth place in the current rankings. North Shields Poly’s Martha French won the 200m in 29.3s while Gateshead’s Skye Marshall produced a discus/javelin winning double with throws of 16:59m and 23:35m respectively.
MATCH RESULT: 1 Harrogate 805.5pts; 2 North Shields Poly 693; 3 Darlington/Allerton 532; 4 Gateshead 530; 5 Morpeth 522; 6 Blyth/Alnwick 318.5.
PERKINS SHOWS HE IS NO SLOUCH
ENGLISH National Cross-Country bronze medallist Chris Perkins stepped down in distance to help his team to victory in the NEYDL Division Two North fixture at the recently revamped Churchill Playing Fields.
Competing for the combined Birtley/Tyne Bridge squad Perkins, after taking maximum points in the 800m where he posted another sub 2 performance, he lined up in the 400m later in the day where, in his first-ever outing over the distance, he stopped the clock at an impressive 52.9secs, a time which places him in the top 20 rankings.
Perkins’ wasn’t the only under-17 to claim a pb with team-mate Rowan Mason winning the long jump with 5:55m while Tynedale’s Billy Murphy winged the javelin out to 39:15m. There was a sprint double for Murphy’s club-mate Ben Brunton who won the 100m and 200m in 12.5s and 24.8s respectively. Amongst the under-17 women there were impressive performances from the Jarrow/Phoenix duo Lexi Brown and Niamh Kemp Lexi winning the long jump (4:63m) and the high jump (1:49m) while Niamh came out on top in the javelin (24:57m).
In the under-15 section Tynedale’s Will Ainsley was impressive in winning the 80m hurdles (13.6s) while there was a double success for Luke Foster (Jarrow/Phoenix), winning the 300m in 43.3s and the long jump with a leap of 4:23m.
Amongst the girls Gosforth’s Hannah Wightman won both the 200m (29.1s) and the 800m (2:23.0). There was also a double for Grace Arthur (Jarrow/Phoenix) in winning the long jump (4:27m) and high jump (1:46m). Another athlete winning two events was Blaydon’s Sky Lewis who won the
hammer (19:47m) and discus (21:44m), her discus result moving her into the Po10 top 20.
In the under-13 age group sprint honours were shared with Blaydon’s Ellie Morley (14.4s) relegating Jarrow/Phoenix’s April McAuley-Zechner (14.9s) into second place. However, the placings were reversed in the 200m with April winning (30.2s) and Ellie finishing runner-up in 30.6s.
Amongst the field events there was a double for Phoebe Kirtley (South Shields/Elswick), Phoebe winning the javelin (16:33m) and the discus (10:54m).
MATCH RESULT: 1 Birtley/Tyne Bridge 557pts; 2 Blaydon 517; 3 Jarrow/Phoenix 481; 4 South Shields/Elswick 456; 5 Gosforth 258; 6 Tynedale 180.
OFOR IMPRESSES WITH LEADING PERFORMANCE
MIDDLESBROUGH AC Mandale’s Whitney Ofor turned in an impressive 100 metres to help her club take the honours in the NEYDL Division Two South fixture at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium.
The Teessider, with only one 100m outing to her name, a wind-assisted 13.85s at Darlington last month, beat off the opposition in fine style to record a sensational 13.2s to set Middlesbrough on the road to victory.
In the same age group, Taylor Jet-Miller (Chester-le-St/Durham) produced a huge pb of 21:35m to win the javelin while team-mate William Jardine continued his good run of form to win the 800m in 2:24.9.
In the under-15 section there was a sprint double for Middlesbrough’s Finlay Maynard, Finlay winning the short sprint in 12.4s and the 200m in 25.7s while team-mate Christy O’Hare triumphed in the 800m, his 2:10.9 placing him inside the top 20 in the current rankings.
Amongst the girls New Marske’s Georgia Richmond had a busy afternoon but all worthwhile as she scored maximum points in the 200m (27.8s), 75m hurdles (12.0s) and the long jump which she won with a leap of 4:76m. The 1,500m was won by Charlotte Dillon (Chester-le-St/Durham) in 4:47.8.
Middlesbrough’s Tom Maynard was also a treble winner, Tom scoring maximum points in the 100m (11.8s), 200m (24.2s) and 400m (57.3s). Amongst the women there was a double success for Molly Thrower who won the 100m (13.1s) and the high jump (1:49m).
MATCH RESULT: 1 Middlesbrough AC (Mandale) 459pts; 2 New Marske 421; 3 Chester-le-Street/Durham City 387; 4 Houghton 298; 5= Derwentside/Crook and Richmond and Zetland 249.
Div 2 South match photos courtesey of Mike Nixon
*THANKS to all the officials and volunteers for making the three fixtures a huge success
THE second of a series of Track and Field fixtures hosted by the North Eastern Counties AA, the first on Teesside, proved a resounding success with athletes and officials enjoying the occasion despite Covid restrictions still being in place.
Two under-11 competitions were introduced into the programme – 75m and standing long jump, which, hopefully, will see those young competitors eager to make their mark in years to come.
A number of hurdles events opened the proceedings and it certainly proved a bonus for those who lined up with all but one of the 30 athletes setting new lifetime best times. Unfortunately, many of sprint hurdlers had the advantage of a strong breeze however, that does not take away the fact that they ran quicker than ever before. In the 400m hurdles, Gateshead junior international Jason Nicholson opened his season account with a new pb of 52.02secs, a time which sees him in third place in the Po10 rankings while Mia Liddell, also of Gateshead, ran 66.17s to be ranked number four at under-20 level.
A series of 100m races followed on from the hurdles events and here again the speed merchants took advantage of the blustery conditions, which resulted in over 60 new pbs. Seeded in race six Blyth’s Abigail Huntly certainly didn’t disappoint by posting a superb 14.06s in the under-13 age group. The fastest under-15 girl on view was also a Blyth athlete, Millie Wilkinson, who posted 12.68s which consolidates her top 10 place in the current listings. At under-17 level Gateshead pair Evie Harrison and Joel Brown-King were in good form posting 12.29s and 11.30s respectively, with Evie’s time the third quickest in the UK this year. Gateshead sprinters are certainly at the top of their game in early-season competition as was shown not just in the younger age groups but in the contests for more-seasoned athletes. That came through loud and clear as Joy Eze stopped the clock at 11.61s and Philippa Ellis recording 12.23 in the under-20 age group, which has Joy at number two with Philippa, after her hurdles’ success earlier, now in the top 10. In the last of the official 100m races victory went to Scott Hall in 10.96s who got the verdict over Sunderland’s Jordan Beavers (11.04s) with another Gateshead athlete, Matthew Lumb (u-20) in third place in 11.11s. However, thanks to the officials’ generosity, a race was organised for athletes who earlier had been disqualified due to a faulty start and Josh McKeown (Gateshead) grabbed the chance and produced a lifetime best run of 10.91s.
It was the turn of the middle distance runners next and here again competitors rose to the occasion producing some excellent competition which, without the need of pacemakers, produced a host of pbs. The final metric mile was a superb example of athletes prepared to take up the running if they felt the pace was dipping with no less than four of the 13-strong field leading at one time. However, at the line it was Birtley’s Chris Perkins who prevailed after seeing off the challenge of his rivals in the final charge to the line. Perkins’ winning time of 4:00.35 was a huge nine seconds quicker than his previous best for the distance and is now third in the Under-17 listings. Another under-17 athlete, Scottish raider Corey Campbell (Team East Lothian) won the battle for second place finishing in 4:01.79 to relegate Middlesbrough and Cleveland’s Greg Jayasuriya (4:02.36) into third. Another 1500m athlete who certainly caught the eye was Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon whose time of 4:42.28 puts her fourth in the under-15 girls Po10 rankings. Other age group bests on the night included Sophie Quinn (u-13g, Billingham Marsh House) 5:10.59; William Jardine (u-13b, Durham City) 4:54.53, which was 17 seconds quicker than his previous best; Joseph Close (u-15b, Morpeth) 4:36.10; Katie Francis (u-17w, Birtley) 4:52.03; Jak Jarvis (u-17m, Sunderland) 4:46.73 and Ines Curran (u-20w, Gateshead) 4:42.10.
Next up was the 200m with many of the contestants doubling-up after running 100m earlier. And Josh McKeown showed his short sprint performance was no fluke by storming around the bend to taste another superb success in a time of 21.78s pushing City of York’s Robert Shipley into second place in 22.06. Joy Eze was another double ‘winner’ claiming 200m victory in 23.73s, her wind-assisted time would put her top of this year’s rankings. Other 200m age group successes included: Dylan Love (u17m, Gateshead) 22.48s; Asha Root (sw, Newcastle University) 26.00s; Matthew Inman (u-15b, Gateshead) 24.25s; Emily Maude (u15g, City of York) 26.75s; Martha French (u13g, North Shields Poly) 28.14s and Douglas Reeve (u13b, Darlington) 27.06s.
There was a healthy turnout in the field events with many competitors rewarded with new pbs. In the discus competition, North Shields Poly’s James Wordsworth consolidated fourth place in the Po10 under-20 rankings with a new pb throw of 47:83m. Gateshead’s Joseph Perkins was equally in good form in the under-15 age group, adding three metres to his previous best with a throw of 36:16m, which places him in second place in the season’s listings.
In the shot put competition, former Morpeth athlete Craig Carlton, now competing for Woodford Green Essex Ladies, continued his good form with a put of 16:41. In a highly-contested under-15 girls competition, Gateshead’s Leila Thompson came out on top with a new pb of 11:07m with Cumbria visitor Ellen Sherwen (Copeland) producing 9:79m and Kaitlyn Waddell (North Shields Poly) making a mark at 9:91m. Emily Stewart, on the eve of her trip to Poland for her GB debut did herself no harm at all by producing a big pb pf 24:95m in the discus after her 8:48m in the shot put competition.
In the javelin event, there were numerous pbs especially with age group winners Skye Marshall (u13g, Gateshead) 25:77m; Archie Wright (u13b, City of York) 31:92m; Phoebe Hall (u15g, Gateshead) 34:50m, who held off the challenge of team-mate Leila Thompson who threw 32:61m, the duo being ranked seventh and eighth respectively.
The leading triple jump athlete on view was Morpeth under-20 Charlotte Earl who jumped a wind-assisted 10:72m and a legal 10:42m. There were pbs for leading age group winners Ashton Harrison (u15b, Darlington) 10:34m and Maisie French (u17w, North Shields Poly) 9:92m
There were 25 long jump competitors keeping the officials on their toes with City of York competitors certainly excelling. The Yorkshire club had the leading under-15 girl, Emily Maude (5:65m) who beat of the challenge of team-mate Esme Pounder (5:06m) and Victoria Park City of Glasgow’s Aleshia O’Connor (5:00m). City of York also had the leading pair in the under-17 women’s competition with victory going to Frances Hogg (5:44m) ahead of Rebecca Lister (5:06m).
Earlier in the day, it was the turn of the under-11 competitions to take centre stage with Allerton pair James Throup and Connie Wilford setting the standard in the 75 metres with James recording 12.05s and Connie 12.02s. In the standing long jump it was the turn of the Derwentside club to shine as Tilly Lee came out on top with a jump of 1:88m with her club-mate finishing second just two centimetres adrift. The best boys’ performance was by Darlington’s James L’Anson who made a mark in the sand at 1:80m.
Once again thanks to all officials and athletes who helped make the meeting a huge success especially athletes who travelled to the impressive Middlesbrough Sports Village for the first time, hopefully we will see you all back in the future.
A special thanks to the City of York club who had more than 30 competitors on the day!
A near-400 entries were received for the first of six North East Grand Prix fixtures which meant a revamp and an earlier start to the programme to ensure the events finished before Monkton Stadium closed its doors!
Despite the extremely cold conditions officials and athletes performed heroically to keep to a tighter-than-usual timetable which resulted in more than three-quarters of the competitors posting new personal bests. The weather may have been cold and blustery but competition was certainly hot throughout and while strict Covid restrictions were in force, those who were allowed into the arena certainly voiced their approval giving every competitor encouragement.
While age group athletes were certainly out in force that cannot be echoed when it comes to senior competition though that will surely change as the season unfolds. However, amongst the seniors who did turn out, there were two very interesting athletes on view, Lewis Robson and Charlie Myers. Not a lot of interest was forthcoming in race five of the 300 metres but on the start line was the extremely-talented three-time former English Schools’ champion Lewis Robson. Robson last set foot on the track back in 2008 competing in the Tartan Games at the International Stadium but he drifted out of the sport until finding a new lease of life recently by giving a helping hand to the coaches at Gateshead Harriers. And he showed he has still a lot to offer whether it be to don a Gateshead vest once more and compete for the Tynesiders or put his knowledge to good use from the sidelines after he scorched home to win his comeback race by over two seconds in a time of 38.23secs.
While Robson’s clocking wasn’t earth-shattering the winners of both the penultimate and final 300 metres events certainly made their mark. Evan Blackman (Corby AC) last competed in the region in 2016 when he finished in bronze medal position in the 300m (36.38s) at the English Schools’ Championships at the International Stadium. However, the East Midlands athlete showed he has improved over the years to win an exciting contest at Jarrow in 34.61s, a time which has him in third place in the Po10 rankings. Blackman had to be at his best though for pushing him all the way to the line was Gateshead’s under-20 athlete Josh McKeown who got the verdict for second place over team-mates Ben Schofield and Mark Collier.
In the 300m contest prior to that victory also went to a visiting athlete, William Ritchie-Moulin of Birchfield Harriers and a student at Durham University. Ritchie-Moulin, also an English Schools’ bronze medallist, beat off his rivals with an impressive 35.75s. Amongst the females competing in the 300m Gateshead’s Beth Pringle (u-20) was quickest with a time of 40.74s. At under-15 level North Shields Poly’s Reuban Moss posted 41.41s.
There were 11 150 metres races on the programme and down to run in the final contest was Olympic pole vault hopeful Charlie Myers, a surprise entry as he builds up towards a trip to Tokyo. And the Birtley athlete certainly showed he has speed to compete with the best by finishing in third place in 16.99s behind Gateshead pair Scott Hall (16.54s) and Matthew Lumb (16.62s).
Others who caught the eye over the rarely-run distance included under-15 Millie Wilkinson (Blyth) 19.49s; Melody Brooks (North Shields Poly), under-17 with 19.26s while, in the same age group Joel Brown-King (Gateshead) recorded 17.03s. Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis posted 18.61s for the quickest under-20 female.
In the 75 metres events Blyth’s Millie Wilkinson (under-15) recorded 9.74s while North Shields Poly senior, James Mole, was quickest overall with 9.59s.
Ten 1500 metres races were down for decision with final race a fitting climax to a superbly organised fixture. It turned into a truly-run race with in-form David Race taking up pace-making duties from the early stages. He was shadowed throughout by fellow Gateshead athletes Matthew Linsley and Josh Blevins, Houghton’s Henry Johnson, Dan Joyce of Tynedale and Morpeth’s Kieran Hedley. Race still led at the bell and as the pace increased his rivals were waiting to pounce. Down the back straight for the final time Joyce eased ahead but with around 150m to go Johnson, with an incredible burst of speed shot to the front which he held on well all the way to the line to win in 3:53.69. Joyce finished runner-up in 3:54.83 and Race completed the one-two-three in 3:56.07. All three athletes compete in the under-20 age group and their performances slot them into third, fourth and fifth place respectively in the current Po10 rankings. Blevins, meanwhile, an under-17 competitor, finished in fifth place in 4:00.60 and is now third ranked. Other notable 1500m performances included Birtley’s Noah Williamson (u-13) who posted 5:07.53; Harry Lyons (Darlington u-15) 4:29.27; Poppy Old (Elswick, u-15) 4:55.13 and Ines Curran (Gateshead, u-20) 4:38.35.
Among the field events, Birtley’s Rowan Mason and Neve Watson (Hartlepool Youth) were in good form in the long jump, Mason, u-17, posting 5:82m and Watson, u-13, putting a mark in the sand at 4:06. In the javelin contests, Gateshead duo Skye Marshall (u-13) and Phoebe Hall (u-15) were on song with throws of 21:99m and 32:81m respectively.
Competition moves to Teesside this weekend with another bumper entry when, hopefully, the weather will be a little kinder.
Photos Courtsey of David Hewitson Sportsforallpics.co.uk
WHAT do Holly Whittaker (Elgin), Charlotte Dillon (Durham City), Leila Thompson (Alnwick), Joe Perkins (Birtley), Josh Blevins (Gateshead), Corey Campbell (Team East Lothian), Callum Hendry (Victoria Park, Glasgow), Joy Eze (Gateshead) and James Wordsworth (North Shields Poly) have in common. The answer is they all top the early-season Po10 rankings in their respective events after competing in the highly-successful NECAA fixture at Morpeth.
On a near-perfect weather day over 200 eager competitors took to the track – and field – and they certainly excelled with over 150 of them setting new pbs though, due to Covid regulations firmly in place, spectators were at a premium to witness their efforts.
From sprints to middle distance and jumps to throws, the smile on competitors faces throughout the day told it all as the action unfolded. And exciting action was the name of the game time and time again. On the track 14 800m races opened the progamme and it was pbs all the way ending with a superb encounter in the final race. The line-up certainly lived up to its billing despite no senior athlete on the start line. Middlesbrough Mandale’s Sam Tyers was the fastest on paper and immediately took up the running pulling his rivals through to the bell in an extremely brisk 53 seconds. Sam, an under-20 athlete, was tracked by Gateshead duo Josh Blevins (u-17) and David Race (u-20), Birtley’s Chris Perkins (u-17) and North Shields Poly entry Zac Old (u-17).
Sam kept the pace going and was still heading the field entering the home straight for the final time. However, it was David who proved the strongest in the closing stages overtaking the Teessider to go on and win in a superb 1min 52.36secs, a time which is the fastest outdoors in the UK this term. Sam finished runner-up 1:53.95 while there were Grade 1 standards for third-placed Josh (1:55.12), fourth-placed Chris (1:56.65) and fifth-placed Zac (1:57.00). Middle distance running in the region is on the up once again if those youngsters is anything to go by.
In an earlier two-lap event Elswick’s Poppy Old also produced a Grade 1 under-13 performance of 2:19.13 which places her in sixth place in the current rankings.
In the 12 heat 200m there were two Grade 1 performances, both by teenagers. Scottish visitor Holly Whittaker (Elgin Amateur AC) stormed home in her event in 28.38s, a new pb and an added reward which sees her top the under-13 Po10 rankings. The second Grade 1 came as no surprise when 2019 England Schools 100m champion, Joy Eze (Gateshead) after moving up an age group defied a slight headwind to win her event an a new pb of 24.28s, a time which is the best under-20 recorded in the UK this year.
To round off the track events there were four 3,000m races and once again a Scottish raider was prominent, so much so Corey Campbell’s new Grade 1 pb of 8:46.92 in finishing runner-up behind Blyth’s Josh Fiddaman (u-20) places him at the head of the Po10 rankings. After the initial jockeying for position in the early laps Josh, Corey, Morpeth’s Daniel Melling and Newcastle University’s Jack Douglas broke away from the rest of the field as the pace wound up. At the bell Corey had a slight advantage with Josh tracking him all the way until entering the home straight where he managed to forge ahead to cross the line in an impressive 8:45.06. Daniel finished in third place in 8:52.74 with Jack forth in 8:59.84.
Not content with an eye-catching performance in the 200m Holly Whittaker then lined up in the long jump where she managed to produce another life-time best by putting a mark in the sand at 4:68 metres, a distance that also heads the Po10 rankings.
While it’s always nice to report on good performances the opening fixture was all about giving athletes the chance to blow away the cobwebs after an extremely difficult year-and-a-half and what came through loud and clear is that athletes and their coaches have continued to work against the odds through the pandemic and despite the drawbacks they were back and the smiles told it all so a massive pat on the back to everyone who took part and to the officials and the main man, meeting organiser Keith Wilshire, for making it all happen.
This weekend sees track and field action return to Shildon after an absence of four years while the first of the region’s Grand Prix series is scheduled for Monkton Stadium on Wednesday, April 28 which will be followed by the second NECAA Open fixture at Middlesbrough on Sunday, May 9. After such a long break from competition fixtures are now coming thick and fast so to everyone keep fit and healthy and continue to enjoy your athletics.
THE TRIP to Thornley Hall Farm is usually accompanied with athletes asking ‘how muddy will the course be!’ However, on the occasion of the curtain-raiser – and the closure – of the North East cross-country campaign, they were met with a bone-hard circuit much to the surprise of all who ventured to the County Durham countryside to partake in the inaugural North Eastern Counties Cross-Country Relay Championships.
Thanks to landowner Jon Taylor’s generosity and the hard-working race organiser, Archie Jenkins, the event, under strict Covid conditions, went ahead smoothly after an immaculate minute silence held in honour of the death of Prince Philip.
No spectators were allowed at the farm with team managers permitted to watch the action unfold from a vantage point well away from the course as the appointed Covid officials made sure those that were fortunate to be in attendance were aware of what was expected of them. Thanks to the generosity of the region’s athletes a collection for the ManHealth Charity managed to raise a staggering £562.23.
There were five events on the programme – Masters Women (40+), Masters Men (40+), Senior Women, Senior Men and Under-20 Men - with limited entries accepted due to the latest Government and England Athletics’ restrictions with first leg runners spread out two-metres apart on an extended start line.
MASTERS WOMEN (3x3k Relay)
THE Master’s Women opened the day’s action and it was Tyne Bridge who came to the changeover point in first place ahead of 19 rivals thanks to Alison Dargie’s effort of 12min 14sec, a time which was to prove the overall best of the contest. North Shields Poly (Stephanie Dann) were 10 seconds adrift in second spot with Birtley (Lorna Graham) a further nine seconds back in third position.
On stage two the Poly moved into pole position with over a minute advantage thanks to the stages’ fastest time by Becky Coleman as Elswick improved from sixth (Joanne Brown) to second thanks to Felicity Smith. Tyne Bridge (Charlotte Carpenter) were now back in third. Going into the final stage the Poly had an advantage of nearly a minute-and-a-half as Alison Smith set off. However, it was Elvet Striders who proved to be their biggest rivals in the chase for the gold medals. The Durham team were back in eighth place (Anna Basu) on stage one and improved to sixth (Corrine Whaling) on the penultimate stage but still over two minutes adrift of the leaders. However, Anna Thompson quickly set about cutting back the deficit and while the Poly still held a significant advantage at the finish Thompson had reeled in everyone else as she posted the second quickest time of the day to see Elvet home to take the runners-up awards. Elswick, thanks to Andrea Banner, claimed the final podium place.
MASTERS MEN (3x3k Relay)
THE all-conquering Sunderland club continued to dominate NE masters events with a gun-to-tape victory though there were only 20 seconds in it at the end as Darlington claimed an exciting second place two seconds ahead of Elvet Striders.
Michael Barker had opened up the blue-vested Wearsiders’ account with the fastest overall time of 10:09 with Darlington (John Clifford) in second place 18 seconds adrift. Tyne Bridge (Cees Van Der Land) were a further five seconds back in third place after 38 teams had faced the starter. On stage two Sam Thurlbeck increased Sunderland’s advantage over Darlington (Paul Cook) while Michael Littlewood, with the stage’s quickest time, moved Elvet Striders up from fourth to second. Chris Jackson had the honour of contesting the glory leg for Sunderland and it was a comfortable outing as the battle for minor honours hotted up behind. It was Darlington who were to prevail in the chase for second place with Wesley Tarn’s fastest stage time being enough to edge out Elvet (Graeme Watt) by two seconds.
SENIOR WOMEN (3x3k Relay)
ELSWICK Harriers pulled out a master stroke by including over-40 athlete Judith Nutt in their team. Despite the long competitive lay-off, Amy Fuller carried over her excellent form to give Elswick the perfect start by posting the fastest time of the day on the opening leg, an advantage the Newcastle club held all the way to the finish. Gateshead (Gillian Manford) were in second place followed by Jesmond Joggers (Molly Pace).
On stage two the leading positions stayed the same with Nichola Conlon keeping the Newcastle outfit ahead despite Gateshead’s Katherine Downie cutting back the lead by 10 seconds. Jesmond (Emma Glover) were still in third place with Morpeth the biggest stage movers, improving from 12th (Lorna MacDonald, who battled on despite picking up an injury) to fourth thanks to Lindsey Quinn. On the final stage Elswick played their ace and it proved a winner. Despite the best efforts of her younger rivals Nutt’s experience proved to be a successful formula as she brought Elswick home 15 seconds clear of Gateshead (Katherine Downie) as Morpeth (Catriona MacDonald) moved into third place to claim the bronze awards. Quickest on the stage was Lydia Turner as she brought Birtley through from 13th to seventh.
SENIOR MEN (4x3k Relay)
THE expected rivalry between three of the region’s most successful clubs prevailed with victory going to Gateshead who finished ahead of Sunderland and Morpeth.
Sunderland were in pole position at the first changeover thanks to Michael Wilson’s 9:25 effort, a time which was to prove the second best of the day. Gateshead (Conrad Franks) were in second place 21 seconds adrift with Tyne Bridge (Michael Hedley) also 21 seconds behind in third place. Jordan Scott brought Morpeth home in fourth spot. On leg two Liam Taylor added valuable seconds to Sunderland’s lead as Tom Charlton moved Tyne Bridge ahead of Gateshead (James Cripwell). Things changed dramatically on the penultimate stage as Gateshead’s National Cross-Country champion Calum Johnson took over 39 seconds down on Sunderland’s Nathan Reed. Johnson, who honoured an agreement to turn out for the team despite being down to contest a road race, quickly cut back the deficit and when he came to the final changeover he had an advantage of 27 seconds after being the only competitor to dip under nine minutes with a 8:54 clocking. Adam Pratt moved Morpeth into third place as Tyne Bridge (Neil Eyes) slipped back to fifth behind Sunderland’s B team.
Despite new Sunderland recruit Stephen Jackson’s quickest efforts on the final leg the Wearsiders had to be content with the runners-up medals as Daniel Alexander continued to keep him at bay to bring the Tynesiders home with a 15-seconds advantage. Alistair Douglass brought Morpeth home in third place followed by Sunderland’s B team, Jarrow and Hebburn and Morpeth’s B team. After his eye-catching performance, Johnson said: ‘’I had agreed to run for the club weeks ago and it would have been unfair to drop out of the team. As it happens it also fitted better into my plans for my half-marathon debut in two weeks time. It means I can do a longer tempo run tomorrow as today was nice and short and not too taxing on the body.’’
UNDER-20 Men (3x3k Relay)
ONLY five teams from three of the region’s clubs faced the starter and it was a runaway victory for the Morpeth trio of Matthew Briggs, Rowan Bennett and Ross Charlton as Durham City finished second and their B team third. However, clubs could only be awarded one set of medals which resulted in Houghton being promoted into bronze medal position. What stood out in the event was the performance of Charlton who ran the last leg for Morpeth in a time of 9:38, a time bettered by only two athletes in the senior event!
ON THIS DAY FEBRUARY 24, 2001 Michael Openshaw was crowned National Cross-Country champion roared on by huge local crowd at Maiden Castle, Durham City
The superb victory by the Chester-le-Street-based athlete came out of the blue as pre-race media attention never gave him a mention possibly due to the fact that he was a doubtful starter plus the fact that he missed out on a place in the GB&NI team for the World Cross after finishing 10th in the Trials at the Inter-Counties at Wollaton Park, Nottingham three weeks earlier. So, for us who were there that day, it came as a huge surprise to spot Openshaw an hour or so before the off warming up as the rest of the championship programme unfolded.
I managed to catch up with Michael earlier this week and after jogging his memory of this time 20 years ago he vividly remembered the day that turned out to be the springboard to the best year of his athletics career.
“Despite the National being held so close to home it wasn’t in my plans to run after the disappointment of not making the team for the World XC Championships,” confessed Openshaw. “At Wollaton Park I could have opted to run the short course (4k) Trial but decided to take my chance over the longer distance which, unfortunately, didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. “In the early stages I was feeling really comfortable in the leading group but for some reason got into a verbal confrontation with another athlete which resulted in me shooting to the front and forcing the pace on. “That rush of blood probably proved to be my downfall for in the end I slipped back down the field to finish 10th just over a minute adrift of Glynn Tromans.”
By now Openshaw had left his home-town club and linked up with Midlands-based outfit Birchfield Harriers but at Nottingham, which was also the Inter-Counties Championships, he was a member of the winning North Eastern Counties team which was led home on that occasion by Dominic Bannister who had finished in third place. On all accounts on returning home Openshaw’s cross-country campaign was over especially as fixtures in March were cancelled up and down the country due to the foot and mouth disease. However, all things changed dramatically on February 24 when Openshaw made his intentions to contest his first-ever National as a senior.
“I didn’t have the motivation to do any serious training after the Trials as there didn’t seem any reason as I certainly had no plans of running the National at that point,” added Openshaw.
“However, on the morning of the race, literally four or so hours before it was due to start I rang Gordon (Surtees, his coach), who was on a train, and I said rather than go for that 10-mile training run which was what I had originally planned to do, I fancy giving the National a go and I think he said OK then so that was that and I started to gather my gear together before heading over to Durham."
“One thing certain I didn’t have any pre-race nerves and I just thought to myself go out and enjoy myself and that’s what I did. The race itself turned out to be what I had expected and surprisingly, despite the lack of training, I felt comfortable as the likes of Keith Cullen, who had finished second in the Trials, and Rob Denmark (formerly of Gateshead Harriers) pushed on at the head of affairs as I settled in the main group just behind.
“By half-way Cullen had opened up a slight lead as the bunch behind began to break up but I was still going along nicely at that point. With just over a lap to go I managed to reel Cullen in and ran with him for a short period then, for some unknown reason, he just stepped off the course, whether he felt he should save himself for the forthcoming World Championships or whatever left me bewildered."
"I certainly didn’t want to be left in the front with over a mile still to go it just wasn’t my way especially after what happened in the Trials. Luckily, Sam Haughian - who went on to win the National in 2002 but tragically died in a car crash in 2004 - managed to join me and we were stride-for-stride entering the closing stages."
“My confidence grew the closer we got to the finish for I sensed everyone lining the course was rooting for me and was banking on my track speed would to come into play and that’s the way it panned out as I went for home with around 200 metres to go and, thankfully, managed to get the gap before crossing the finish line."
In a way I supposed I surprised myself but not as much as it did to my old friend Jim Colpitts who was officiating at the finish. He was manning the ropes that day and the sight of me charging down the home straight caught him out so much so that he managed to drop the rope just as I crossed the line!"
It was a great feeling going up to receive the trophy with many people staying behind for the presentation and giving me a huge cheer. Being a local it was possibly the loudest of the day.
“Looking at the names on the trophy certainly gave me a proud feeling especially five or so hours earlier I wasn’t even going to run!’’
After missing out on a place for the Sydney Olympics the year before Openshaw’s target for the rest of 2001 was gaining selection for the August IAAF World Championships which were scheduled for Edmonton, Canada. However, for that to happen he had to run sub 13min 25sec 5,000m, a qualifying time over eight seconds quicker than his lifetime best of 13:33.26 which he recorded in Milan in June. Openshaw was in a quandary, should he line up in the Trials in Birmingham or should he take a chance and go to Heusden, northern Belgium where a high-class field was assembled.
“It was a huge decision to make and extremely difficult. By missing the Trials would the selectors take it as a slant against them but on the other hand endurance races at the Trials are usually slow-run so even if I managed to have won there would be a good chance it wouldn’t be quick enough “So, I made the decision to go to Belgium with the hope that I could get the time required and that no-one managed it at the Trials. In the end the Trials were won in 13:52.72 while I managed to just get under the figures required by running a huge personal best of 13:24.44 even though I could only finish 15th in the race."
“It was a huge relief to know that I had made the right decision though I still had an anxious wait before the selectors got in touch to say I was in the team. Big decisions seemed to be the order of the day for me during 2001 but thankfully the one to run the National at the last moment and the one to go to Belgium instead of lining up in the Trials certainly were ones to be pleased with.’’
Unfortunately, for Openshaw, who was the only British male endurance athlete to make it to Canada, he couldn’t quite repeat his Belgium exploits in the World Championships where he was eliminated in the heats after clocking one of his slowest ever 5,000m times of 14:00:84.
THE North East athletics family has been hit a double whammy with the news that long-serving officials John Keefe and Hudson Stoker passed away last weekend.
It’s a huge blow to everyone who knew the two superb servants who graced the field of athletics in a special style by going about their business in a quiet but exceptional way and with their passing the sport will be a lonely place without them.
The Harrier League in particular is hugely grateful and appreciative for the tireless work the pair put in over many years which, in a sense, helped make the NEHL the envy of other cross-country leagues throughout the country.
John started life as an athlete with his home-town club Jarrow Cycling and Athletics Club having notable successes giving the club a strong standing in the region. A move into the admin side with the likes of Tommy Power, Jimmy Hedley, Bob Charlton and Eric Huskisson after a name change to Jarrow and Hebburn Athletics Club, saw the South Tyneside outfit prosper even further especially when they had athletes of the calibre of Steve Cram and the largely unheralded David Sharpe, proud athletes who competed on the World stage in the famous gold with blue sash vest.
If his work at the club wasn’t enough – he filled all the major positions at one time or another – John took on the role as Harrier League secretary at a time when the organisation was struggling for funds. But he had the answer. He asked for volunteers on race days to go round with a bucket persuading competitors and their supporters to dig deep for the cause and it worked a treat so much so the league is now in a much healthier state now as the collecting bucket is no longer and in the archives of history!
Jonathan Gilroy presenting John Keefe with the Jarvis Award at Jarrow & Hebburn's 80th Anniversary
After passing over the league secretary position John continued to be a regular at Jarrow & Hebburn and local fixtures despite some atrocious weather working as an official at the finish line, a role he also enjoyed in warmer climes at track meetings throughout the region.
Hudson, meanwhile, was, in comparison to John, a relatively late starter to the local athletics scene after linking up with the Northumbrians in 1986. However, he quickly made his mark after working alongside great friend George Patterson as members of Morpeth Harriers.
A gentle gentleman, Hudson proved an asset to the Northumberland outfit where he took on many tasks without question, a fact quickly recognised by the hierarchy which resulted in him being installed as a life-member.
Away from his club duties Hudson found a new niche when he took up announcing duties like a duck to water. While local events were the bread and butter, especially with the mic in one hand and his beloved camera around his neck ready for action before proclaiming in that immaculate voice of his: ‘Slow pack you have five minutes to the start’ at a HL fixture. His calm delivery quickly got him recognised where he was installed at Northern Athletics’ events as well as English Road Relay Championships.
RIP John and Hudson, our thoughts and prayers are with all your family and friends at this sad time.
*For further tributes to John and Hudson check the relative club websites
George & Hudson at the 2019 Northern's XC Champs
IT MAY not have been what we have been accustomed to but the weekend’s track and field action at Middlesbrough and Morpeth was a huge step forward since athletics was suspended from the offset of the season.
However, what came through loud and clear from the fixtures at both ends of the North East Counties region was that club coaches and their athletes certainly hadn’t let boredom set in during the past six months or so for numerous new personal bests were the order of the day at both venues.
On Teesside 33 new pbs were set while the Northumberland King Edward VI School track witnessed an incredible 82 life-time best performances – a truly amazing statistic which saw the majority of competitors, many of whom were having their first competitive outdoor action of the year, going home happy.
With such a high number of spectacular offerings on show it would be impossible to highlight them all but a number certainly caught the eye despite their being no spectators in attendance due to current Government guidance.
However, with the hope of not upsetting anyone, here is a short round-up of events from both stadia where windy conditions prevailed.
Fastest sprinter on view at Middlesbrough Sports Village was Gateshead’s Scott Hall who posted a 100m time of 10.90s with Kingston-upon-Hull visitor, David Morgan-Harrison (u-20), pushing him all the way to line in 10.97s. The Humberside athlete, with Hall an absentee, went on to win the 200m later in the day. Fastest female over 200m was home-based Charlotte Kelsey (u-17) who recorded a superb 24.64s, a time which moves her up to fifth place in the current Po10 rankings for 2020.
Since lockdown has eased, Houghton’s Henry Johnson (u-20 ) has excelled over two laps having dipped under 1:50 for the first time. However, the teenager dropped down in distance to contest the 400m and proceeded to produce an excellent sub-50 seconds for only the second time where he recorded a new pb of 49.34s. Johnson’s Houghton team-mate Will Bellamy (u-20) triumphed in the two-lap event after his superb run recently at Stretford, to win in 1:53.07 while Steve McMahon (Sunderland) posted 2:07.66 competing in the over-40 category.
Among the field events Leeds City duo Mark Johnson (v55) and Colin Hayton (v60) were best pole vaulters on view clearing 3:92m and 2:70m respectively; former Morpeth athlete Craig Charlton, now competing for Woodford Green, set a new pb of 17:08m in the shot put, a distance which sees him move to fourth in the 2020 Po10 listings while Emily Stewart (Gateshead) set a new pb of 9:79m and Alnwick’s Talia Thompson was just three centimetres short of her best (10:93m) in her under-17 section.
Twenty-fours after the Middlesbrough fixture action moved further North to Morpeth with a number of athletes lining up for a second time. On the track there were 13 races at both 100m and 800m with Hall among those in the sprint after competing in Teesside. This time however, despite running quicker (10.84s) he had to give way to Leeds City’s European Junior Championship representative Joe Ferguson who got the verdict in 10.65s. Gateshead’s Josh McKeown (u-20) lined up in the same race and posed a pb of 11.15s while Matthew Lumb (u-17) was the quickest in his event with a huge new pb of 11.17s, a time which places him inside the top 10 in the country. The quickest under-15 athlete on the day was Joel Brown-King (Gateshead) with a new pb of 11.17s which moves him up to fifth in the current UK rankings. Nicola Caygill (Jarrow and Hebburn) was fastest woman on view (12.10s). Gateshead’s Joy Eze was quickest under-17 with 12.24s after posting a wind-assisted 12.11s the previous day. The Tyneside club were also celebrating after Amelia Sherlock recorded a new pb of 12.87s as the fastest under-15.
Despite the suspension of competition Gateshead’s David Race (u-17) has come on leaps and bounds this season under the guidance of John Stephenson and he showed a good turn of foot once more to post the fastest 800m time of the day of 1:55.23. Rotherham’s Zak Ferguson celebrated the trip north to set a new pb of 2:04.42 at under-15 which moves him to fifth in the Po10 listings. Back competing in a Morpeth vest Nisha Desai was the fastest female in action posting 2:14.59 while Millie Breese (Alnwick) was quickest under-17 with 2:26.62 and Elswick’s Poppy Old was quickest under-15 with 2:23.47.
In the long jump Gateshead’s junior international Lucy Turner, another who had competed in Middlesbrough, put a mark in the sand with a season’s best of 5:56m while Blaydon’s Liam Reveley led the field with a leap of 6:40m to finish ahead of Jarrow and Hebburn’s Thomas Paterson (under-17) who set a new pb of 5:95m. Gateshead’s Lily Cassidy also a set a new pb of 4:77m to top the under-17 section.
North Shields Poly’s James Wordsworth moved to sixth place in the under-20 shot put rankings with a superb new pb of 15:29m while Sophie Littlemore (Gateshead) took the honours in the senior women’s section with a put of 13:32m. There were also shot put pbs for Thomas Mann (Gateshead, u-15) 11:74m; Ryan Cook (Birtley, u-15) 10:85m; Eve Robson (Middlesbrough, u-20) 10:72; Grace Arthur (Jarrow and Hebburn, u15) 9:23m; Rebecca Harrison (Jarrow and Hebburn, u-15) 7:63m and Ellie O’Halloran (Jarrow and Hebburn, u-20) 7:20m.
Border Harrier Damon King (u-17) produced a huge pb of 48:14m in the hammer competition which slots him at fifth in the UK rankings. Birtley’s Fynn Errington won the under-15 section with a new pb of 25:82m while Middlesbrough’s Grace Mcdonald was the pick of the under-17 women with a throw of 48:70m and the best of the under-15 girls’ contestants was Gateshead’s Lexie Ellis with a pb effort of 39:85m which consolidates second place in this season’s rankings.
NECAA are pleased to announce their second Track & Field competition of 2020, with the competition again being at King Edward School Track, Morpeth on Sunday September 6th.
More events have been added to the timetable and these will be;
Track; 200M, 300/400M, and 1500M
Field; Long Jump, Triple Jump, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin
We will also allow entries from All Age groups from U13’s upwards
Entries close on Sunday 30th August and further details here: www.necaa.info
THE region’s multi-eventers were in action both here in the region and in Sheffield which saw some extremely fine competition with performances of the highest calibre. The North Eastern Counties Pentathlon Championships took place at Gateshead College indoor facilities while Sheffield hosted the English Age Group Pentathlon.
TWO weeks after claiming the Scottish under-15 Indoor Pentathlon title Gateshead’s Georgia Mabbott did likewise when she travelled to Sheffield for the English equivalent. While Georgia had a comfortable victory in Glasgow by over 100 points after totalling 3,176, the competition however was much closer in Yorkshire where she came out on top by just ONE point after accumulating one point less than she did when winning the Scottish gold medal. In Sheffield the victory wasn’t confirmed until the last of the five phases though the Tynesider did manage two new pbs during the day-long competition which just gave her the edge over Alice Wilson of Team Bath with Sophie Lisk (Cardiff Archers) claiming the bonze award just 19 points adrift of the runner-up.
NUMBERS were slightly down on previous years but the standard of competition was excellent which resulted in two new championship best performances and one meeting record.
Sixteen competitors were in action in the under-13 girls contest and once again Emily Bond was in outstanding form where she not only set a new championship record but also scored 60 points more than the two-year figures of Southport Waterloo’s Amber Hughes. The North Shields athlete, who was recently crowned Scottish champion, set out her stall from the first event and was never headed thereafter. Emily recorded the fastest 60m hurdles time (9.37s) before setting a new pb of 7:98m in the shot put phase, a distance which was second best behind Hannah Wilson, the Blyth athlete eventually finishing runner-up at the end of the day behind Emily. Next up was the high jump which saw Emily increase her advantage after a clearance of 1:49m. The momentum was maintained in the long jump, the penultimate phase of the competition where a mark in the sand at 4:74m saw her add further daylight ahead of her rivals. The 60m was the final event of the day and while Emily sprinted to a pb of 8.47s it was only the fourth fastest overall with Millie Wilkinson (Blyth), who eventually finished in bronze medal position, recording a superb 8.16s. The championship medallists: Gold: Emily Bond (North Shields Poly) 3,041pts; Silver: Hannah Wilson (Blyth Running Club) 2,787pts; Bronze: Millie Wilkinson (Blyth Running Club) 2,549pts.
The second new championship best came in the under-13 boys event which saw Blyth’s Luke Pichler add a huge 231 points to the old 2013 figures of Gateshead’s Oliver Herring. Luke led the way from the first phase and, like Emily was never headed after that. He was quickest over the hurdles; best in the high jump, despite a couple of run ins with the uprights, long jump, shot put and 60m. Luke totalled 1,808 pts with Dante Evans (New Marske) finishing in silver medal position on 1,47pts. City of York’s William Hickling accumulated 1,234pts for third place while Chester-le-Street’s Owen Barron claimed the county bronze award with 1,201pts.
The under-15 girls’ championship was won by New Marske’s Molly Thrower setting three new pbs along the way. The Teessider opened with a pb (9.53s) in the 60m hurdles and followed that with a pb in the high Jump (1:49m) and finally in the 60m (8.53s). Molly totalled 2,991pts with City of York pair Emily Maude and Rosie Hickling finishing in second ad third place with 2,921pts and 2,716pts respectively. Ella Jones (Chester-le-Street), in fourth place received the county silver medal with Emma Sedgwick (Middlesbrough Mandale) completing the podium places.
Ashley Watson (Hartlepool Youth) claimed victory in the under-17 women’s event after accumulating 3,222pts. Asley won by just under 200 points which wasn’t surprising as she set new figures in four of the five phases. Ashley opened with a 60m hurdles pb of 9.06s; followed that with a high jump life-time best of 1:46m; she did likewise in the long jump (4:91m). Unfortunately, Ashley missed out on a shot put pb with 8.35m but was back in pb mode in the final 60m phase where she recorded 8.19s. Alena Dixon, of Bury AC, finished in second place with 3,025pts with Quisha Graham (North Shields Poly) finishing third and second in the county championship with 2,836pts. Jarrow and Hebburn’s Lexi Brown, who finished in fourth spot (2,808pts), received the country bronze medal.
In the under-20 men’s contest victory went to Blaydon’s Sam Gorman after totalling 3,186pts. Wakefield’s James Simms finished runner-up (2,864pts) while Regan Langley (Doncaster) claimed third place with 2,161pts.
The senior men’s event was an all visitor affair with victory going to Hallamshire’s Thomas Hughes (3,086pts); Doncaster’s Nathan Langley finished runner-up with 2,960pts and Dartford’s Matt Rushden completed the one-two-three.
In the under-17 men’s competition Leeds City’s Morgan Williams came out on top finishing with 3,037pts with Jarrow and Hebburn’s Thomas Paterson claiming the county title in second place after accumulating 2,901pts. Amber Valley’s Ben Pitts finished in third place (2,492pts) with Hartlepool Youth’s Scott Temple fourth with 1,595pts.
The under-20 women’s championship was won by Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis with a total of 3,325pts. City of York’s Leah Attack finished in second place with 2,125pts.
Stockport’s Cory Beechall claimed victory in the under-15 boys competition while Katie Robinson (City of Sheffield) scored 3,285pts to defeat City of York’s Rebecca Lister (3,078pts) to win the senior women’s contest.
*Thanks go to championship secretary Keith Wilshire and the technical officials for making it another highly-successful championship. And to all the supporters who encouraged all the athletes throughout the day.
ONCE again a small number of North East athletes travelled to Glasgow’s Emirates Arena for the Scottish Under-13/15/20 Indoor Championships returning on a high after trawling in four gold, three silver and four bronze medals.
And for one particular athlete she will not want the season to end for she thrilled the Scottish spectators on the opening day of the championships by breaking two National records on her way to setting new British records!
North Shields Poly’s Emily Bond set the standard in the first heat of the under-13 hurdles, the opening event on the programme, and in doing so erased the existing 9.65sec from the record books by producing, not only a new pb of 9.19s, but also setting a new British record on the way. In the hurdles she was joined by Blyth Running Club’s Millie Wilkinson who went into the fixture with a pb of 9.92s. However, after progressing through the heats and semi-finals she produced the run of her life to finish in second place behind Emily after setting her best-ever figures of 9.73s.
That wasn’t the end of the action for the duo especially Emily who had her eyes on two other events practically running side-by-side during an action-packed day. First up was the long jump and after breaking the Scottish record of 4:85 metres in the opening round with a mark in the sand at 4:94m she leapt even further in round four to 5:03m, another British record to cherish. Blyth's Sadie Parker was inspired by Emily’s winning leap which urged her on to joining her on the podium after finishing in third place with a new indoor pb of 4:42m. Then it was on to the high jump for Emily and though it had already been a tiring day she still managed to clear a new pb height of 1:55m, a height just one centimetre shy of the existing Scottish record.
Three events, three gold medals, not a lot more can be asked for an extremely talented local athlete who now tops this year’s UK rankings at 60m hurdles, long jump and high jump.
Millie Wilkinson was back on the starting blocks an hour or so later to contest the 60 metres where she was joined by fellow Blyth athletes Abigail Huntley and Maya Turner and all three progressed through to the semi-finals. However, both Millie and Maya managed to make it to the final with Abigail just missing out. And the pair were just pipped for the gold medal with Millie finishing in second place -another silver medal – and Maya third ensuring the required celebration for the Blyth outfit.
In the under-20 60m hurdles, Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis finished in second place in her heat (9.31s) and then produced a new life-time best of 9.00s in the final where she finished in third position.
Not long later a Gateshead athlete was topping the podium. Twelve months ago the Tyneside club’s Jazmine Moss won the under-20 200m in 24.74s, however, this time round Rachel Bennett, in her first outing over the distance this winter, claimed the title with a new pb of 24.25s, a time which slots her into third place in the UK rankings.
In the under-13 200m Blyth’s Sadie Parker progressed to the final after setting a new indoor pb of 28.64s in the earlier rounds. However, she couldn’t quite repeat that performance in the final and finished in sixth position in 29.27s.
Tynedale's Will Ainsley claimed a maiden Scottish National medal, crossing the line in his U13 60m hurdles race with huge smile on his face to take the silver medal.
In the under-20 shot put competition, Gateshead’s Lucy Giles produced a huge pb of 11:48m to claim the silver medal with team-mate Philippa Ellis finishing in fourth place while Alnwick’s Leila Thompson also made it onto the podium in third spot in the under-13 shot contest with a put of 9:12m.
Gateshead’s Hannah Buckton and Lexie Ellis were the only athletes to make it onto the podium on the second day, Hannah progressing through to the final of the under-15 60m hurdles where she finished in third position in a time of 9.52s while team-mate Lexi produced a new life-time best of 10:88m to finish runner-up in the under-15 shot put contest.
There were fourth place finishers for Tynedale’s Lewis Davison in the under-15 200m where he returned 25.41s after clocking 25.05 in the semis; Megan Costello was fourth in the under-20 60m (7.92s); and fellow Gateshead athlete, Amelia Sherlock was fourth in the under-15 60m in 8.17s. Darlington’s Kate Williams joined Amelia in the final and finished in eighth place in 8.44s though she recorded 8.29s in the heats. Matthew Lawson (Gateshead) made it through to the final of the under-20 60m where he finished seventh but was rewarded with a new pb of 7.17s.
AROUND the time Calum Johnson was crossing the line after ploughing through the mud to claim the National Cross-Country title fellow Gateshead athlete Joy Eze was also celebrating after winning the under-17 60 metres contest at the English Indoor Championships in the warmth of the English Institute of Sport Arena in Sheffield.
Joy, the reigning Scottish and Northern 60m champion, had something to prove after being disqualified in the same final last year and she showed that she had no intention of that happening again. Joy glided through her heat as the fastest qualifier (7.69secs) but had to survive two false starts by her rivals to win a nervy semi-final in commanding style (7.59secs).
Racing against the top-five ranked performers in the UK in the final, including the UK and European leading performer, Joy produced a superb performance to maintain her 100% indoor record and in doing so lifting her first National Indoor title in a new personal best of 7.51secs.
Joy, of course, wasn’t the only athlete from the region to finish top of the podium with no less than another three claiming victory over the two-day championships.
Despite the lack of indoor facilities in the North East two of the region’s middle distance runners left the Yorkshire venue with gold medals round their necks. Houghton’s Henry Johnson, who mixes running on the boards with outings over the country, won a slow, tactical under-17 men’s 1500 metres in 3min 57.94s to add to his runners-up silver medal from the Northern Championships held the previous month at the same venue.
The under-17 women’s 1500 metres was also a straight final and it proved benefical to Chester-le-Street’s Lucy Scothern who was having her first indoor outing in three years. Once again it was a tactical affair but Lucy managed to win comfortably by over a second in 4:50.86, a time well outside her pb of 4:35.87.
The final athlete from the region to top the podium was Gateshead’s Jack Halpin, the current Northern and North Eastern Counties champion. Jack left it late to take control of a hotly-contested shot put event. Behind his season’s best efforts, Jack kept all his supporters on tenter-hooks until the fifth round, where he re-established his dominance, heaving the shot beyond 15 metres to take the lead. He then settled everyone’s nerves in the final round when he powered ahead of the early leader with a put of 15.74m to consolidate his gold medal winning performance and improve on his silver medal from last year.
While it’s always nice to report on athletes from the region claiming national titles it’s great to see so many gaining experience at the highest level away from home.
In the under-15 girls 60mHannah Buckton (Gateshead) in her first year in the age group rubbed shoulders with the best in the UK and performed well running 8.42secs in her heat while in the same age group the North Eastern and Northern Champion, Joel Brown King also of Gateshead, looked at home at this level finishing second in his heat in 7.48secs but couldn’t quite repeat that performance in the semi-finals in clocking 7.62secs.
In the under-17 women’s 60m Darcey Garbutt, a Scottish and Northern finalist, flew to a new personal best in the heats clocking 7.90secs. This proved her best of the day as she went out of the competition in a very high-quality semi-final. Darcey also lined up in the 200m and was rewarded with a time of 26.28secs while North Shields Poly’s Stella Perrett clocked 26.32secs in her heat of the 200m. Ashley Watson (Hartlepool Youth) gained much valuable experience when recording 8.32secs in the heats.
Matthew Lumb, the Scottish and North Eastern under-17 60m qualified comfortably from the heats after recording 7.24secs. Unfortunately the Gateshead athlete picked up a hamstring injury in the semi-final which resulted in him missing out on a place in the final.
In the under-20 women’s 60m Gateshead’s newest recruit, North Eastern champion, Rachel Bennet, achieved a new lifetime best of 7.6 secs in qualifying for the final where she achieved a very creditable fifth place. North Shields Poly also had two under-20s in the 60m with Lucy Errington and Jessica Lively going out in the heats despite clocking 8.26secs and 8.24secs respectively.
Gateshead had four athletes contesting hurdle events with Hannah Buckton lining up in the under-15 girls race where she reached the semi-final after recording 9.82secs.
In the under-17 men’s championship Arron Lillistone, the North East champion and record holder, locked horns with the country’s best hurdlers and can be delighted with his efforts. He battled hard to run near his personal best of 8.36secs in making it through to the semi-final where a 8.40 secs performance ensured a final appearance. Aaron rose to the challenge and finished in sixth place
In the women’s under-17 event Philippa Ellis, the North East Champion, unfortunately bowed out of the heats after catching the first flight after an excellent start. Her Indoor campaign continues with the Multi-events National Championships in March. However, both Amy Lott (Morpeth) and Darlington’s Charlotte Rutter both made the final, Amy just missing out on a podium spot finishing in fifth place in 8.86secs after posting a pb of 8.80secs in the heats while Charlotte crossed the line in eighth position recording 8.93secs, a fraction slower than her new pb of 8.85secs she ran in the semi-final. Tynedale’s Kate Smith just failed to join them after finishing fourth place in the semi-final in 8.90secs.
Oliver Lewis, the North Eastern under-20 champion, acquitted himself well achieving a season’s best of 8.90sec in a quality heat. He will now turn his attention to the Scottish Championships next month.
Former Morpeth athlete Andrew Knight, now based in the south finished runner-up in the under-20 men’s shot put, his best effort being 17:66 metres.
ONCE again records fell like nine-pins at the annual North Eastern Counties AA Indoor Championships held at Gateshead College Academy of Sport which incorporated the Cumbria and NE Masters AA Championships.
The two-day competition opened with field events on the first day followed by the track programme on day two with a good number of coaches, family and friends in attendance giving competitors huge support.
Competition was keen throughout the day and it was newly-crowned Scottish Indoor Pentathlon champion Emily Bond who helped lighten up proceedings, the North Shields Poly athlete going on to set two new championship best performances.
It was in the long jump that the youngster really excelled where, not only did she erase the old figures of 4:53m set in 2006 by Jessica Read (Gateshead) but Emily, who sat at the top of the UK under-13 rankings, extended her advantage by adding another eight centimetres to her portfolio with a superb 4:86m. Such was the high standard of the event Blyth’s Hannah Wilson also bettered the old figures to claim the silver medal with a new pb of 4:64m.
Emily was back onto the top of the podium a second time when she cleared 1:46m to win the high jump and while not a new pb it was good enough to erase the old figures of 1:40m set by Jarrow and Hebburn pair Emma Johnson and Amelia Bateman and Charlotte Patterson of Middlesbrough and Cleveland. Blyth Running Club had five competitors in the event with Millie Wilkinson, Hannah Wilson and Abigail Huntly all clearing 1:36m in the fight for the minor medals with Millie taking silver and Hannah & Abigail joint bronze on the count back system.
In the same age group Alnwick’s Leila Thompson was also in record-breaking form in the shot put competition. Leila went into the contest ranked number three in the country but she improved into second place after setting a new pb and championship best of 9:47m which bettered Middlesbrough’s Grace McDonald’s 2017 figures by 38 centimetres!
The fourth championship-best of the day came in the under-20 women’s long jump when Tynedale’s Louise Smith set a new pb of 5:35m which eclipsed Middlesbrough’s Falonne Mukendi’s 2014 figures of 5:25m. Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis equalled the old record to claim the silver medal.
As well as the record-breakers there were a number of close shaves. in the under-17 men’s long jump Blyth’s Alfie Ward came within four centimetres of equalling Middlesbrough’s Jack Crosby’s 2011 figures of 6:45m while Gateshead’s Jack Halpin, who heads the British under-17 shot put rankings, was five centimetres shy of Morpeth’s Andrew Knight’s 2018 distance of 15:33m.
Of course, it wasn’t only the record breakers who enjoyed the occasion for many of those competing produced lifetime bests.
Among the Masters who set new records were Julie Gittens (Leeds City) in the triple jump; Daniel Upton ((Richmond and Zetland) in the shot put; and a first for Jesmond Joggers’ Paul Waddell in the long jump.
If the opening day was a good one then the second session was even better with six new championship best performances showing, despite the lack of top-flight facilities, that club coaches in the region are making the best of a bad job in getting their charges to perform at a high level.
The programme went like clockwork thanks to Championship secretary Keith Willshire and his team of dedicated volunteer technical officials and it wasn’t long before the announcer stated that the first record of the day had been achieved. However, it didn’t come as a real surprise to the spectators lined four deep on the Academy of Sport’s balcony for, in the third event of the day, the under-13 girls heats of the 60m hurdles, it was declared that Emily Bond, yes, that North Shields Poly athlete, had broken the 2017 record of 9.93s set by Basingstoke’s Iona Irvine in recording 9.36s, a time which sees her not only proudly heading the UK rankings this year but consolidates her at the top of the UK overall listings since statistics were brought in. That was Emily’s third new championship best performances of the weekend and it came as no surprise after receiving her medal that she said of the three the hurdles record gave her most pleasure.
Following on from the hurdles heats came the finals and while Emily couldn’t quite repeat her performance from the heats she still recorded a winning time of 9.56s. However, there were another two hurdles records to fall in an amazing morning. In the under-13 boys event victory went to Blyth’s Luke Pichler in 10.26s a time which dipped under the 2018 record of Giffnock North’s Daniel Martin of 10.41s. Luke’s time, which was a new pb, slots him into fourth place in the current UK listings.
The next hurdles record to fall came in the under-17 men’s event which saw Gateshead’s Aaron Lillistone record 8.41s, a time which dipped under his club’s Jason Nicholson’s 2015 figures of 8.43s. Jason, of course went on to gain numerous junior international honours so perhaps Aaron could well follow in his footsteps footsteps.
After the hurdle events – the barriers quickly set aside by the officials – it was the turn of the speed merchants to take centre stage and many of finals the had spectators on their toes such was the high standard.
Anyone connected with the Blyth Running Club could never have dreamt in a million years that they would have four of the six finalists lining up in the under-13 girls final and the backroom team were aptly rewarded when three of those swept the board for a clean sweep of medals. Victory went to Millie Wilkinson, the Northern champion, in 8.23s, a time which dipped under the figures of 8.30s set in 2015 by Gateshead’s Charlotte Richardson. Hannah Wilson claimed the runner-up award with a new pb of 8.32s with Maya Turner completing the one-two-three in 8.40s. Millie’s new pb moves her up into fourth place in this year’s Po10 rankings.
While it is rare for one club to trawl in all three medals in a championship competition, it happened again when it was the turn of Gateshead supporters to celebrate after their under-20 women claimed all three podium places. Victory went to new recruit Rachel Bennett in 7.74s, a time which not only is a new pb but also bettered Rachel Highfield’s (Gateshead) 2013 figures of 7.78s. Such was the high standard of the event, Megan Costello, who finished runner-up, equalled the old record while third-placed Erin Louise Anderson was just outside in 8.72s. Rachel’s latest success adds to the gold medals she received after winning the under-17 and under-15 championships!
The final record to fall on a truly remarkable day came in the under-13 boys 60m which saw victory go to Gateshead’s Matthew Inman in a time of 8.24s, a time which scraped four-hundredths-of-a-second off Middlesbrough Mandale’s Hedley Wordsworth’s 2014 record of 8.28s. Matthew’s winning time was inside his previous best of 8.41s which he recorded when finishing in third place in the recent Northern Indoor Championships in Sheffield.
While it’s not all about breaking records for many setting a new pb gives as much pleasure and for one athlete that certainly was the case. It’s not often one has penned a few words on a sprinter from Sunderland Harriers which, over the years, has been noted for its endurance running feats. However, in the under-20 men’s 60m a new name came to the fore when Jordan Beavers crossed the line in first place in a new life-time best of 7.09s, which, after just a couple of years in the sport, is a superb achievement which shows what can be achieved with hard work and dedication and faith in your coach.
Fastest sprinter on view was Gateshead’s Scott Hall who posted 6.96s in the senior men’s 60m heats. However, the Tynesider was a bit keen as he lined-up in the final and set off too quickly and was subsequently disqualified much to the disappointment of the spectators.
There were many other winners on the day, unfortunately too many to mention, but hopefully many of those will not only be champions but go onto much greater things.
*Thanks go to everyone who had an input, however large or small, in making the North East Indoor Championships a success once again. Appreciation also to the many spectators who came along and supported the event.
AFTER deliberating for nearly three hours, the county selectors have named strong squads for the UK CAU Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships on Saturday, March 4 which return to Pretswold Hall, Loughborough once again.
Twelve months ago the North East had two individual champions in Wallsend’s Sam Charlton and Darlington’s India Pentland and both will don a county vest once again albeit in an older age group.
As well as celebrating two gold medallists the region also had a silver medallist- Rory Leonard (Morpeth) – and a bronze medallist in Middlesbrough Mandale’s Josh Cowperthwaite.
However, while it’s not all about making it onto the podium, it will be great experience for many who will be making their county debut.
Team managers’ Stewy Bell and Lynn Cooper are cautiously optimistic on how their charges will perform on the big stage though many of the senior athletes have experienced the Inter-Counties on numerous occasions.
Bell, a NE representative many times, had this to say after the teams were finalised: ‘’It’s a great honour to represent your county in, what I believe is the major cross-country championships of the year. While we have a strong senior men’s squad with Carl Avery and Calum Johnson, the NE and Northern champions respectively, leading the way it’s to the younger age groups who I think have the best chance of success.’’
Women’s team manager Cooper was equally excited about the prospect of seeing the region’s top youngsters perform against the best athletes in the country. ‘Enjoying the experience is vitally important which, of course, could be the stepping stone for greater things in the future,’’ said Lynn. ‘’We have some very talented young athletes in the North East and lining up in the Inter-Counties is invaluable if they want to go on and achieve greater things.’’
The senior women’s team has a good chance of also making it onto the podium with seasoned international Kate Avery (Shildon) currently heading the UK Cross Challenge and she will be joined in the team by NE champion Sonia Samuels (Sale) and former Elswick athlete Philippa Williams who now competes for Sheffield AC and will be making her NE senior debut.
*Would-be spectators are more than welcome to make the trip and support the teams. There is an overnight stay leaving Newcastle at 5pm on Friday while a second coach sets of from Newcastle on Saturday morning at 6.30am. Both coaches have pick-up points on the A1 corridor. The price of travel is £10. Anyone interested please get in touch with either Stewy Bell or Lynn Cooper.
HOW THE NORTH EASTERN COUNTIES WILL LINE UP
SENIOR WOMEN (10,000m): Sonia Samuels (Sale), Philippa Stone (Midd/Mand), Catirina McDonald (Morp), Kate Avery (Shild), Philippa Williams (Sheff), Danielle Smythe (Heat), Georgia Campbell (J&H), Amy Fuller (Elsw) and Hannah Plaschkes (Darl).
JUNIOR WOMEN (6,000m): Chloe Wellings and Amy Baker (both Gates), Eva Hardie (Hough), Laura Havis (Midd/Mand), India Pentland (Darl), Eve Sothern (Birt), Abigail Anderson (Birt) and Eve Quinn (Sund).
UNDER-17 WOMEN (5,000m): Emily Chong (Ch-le-St), Ines Curran (Gates), Tess Graham (Birt), Anna Pigford and Amy Leonard (both Hough), Holly Peck (Morp), Cecelia Reid (Blay) and Kate Salthouse (Tyned).
UNDER-15 GIRLS (4,000m): Katie Francis (Birt), Elle van der Mere and Holly Waugh (both NSP), Millie Breese (Alnw), Lucy Scothern (Ch-le-St), Erin Keeler-Clarke (Hough), Abigail Leiper (Morp) and Marissa Boon (Darl).
UNDER-13 GIRLS (3,000m): Zara Jones (Darl), Sophie Quinn (BillMHse), Eden Creasey (Midd/Mand), Charlotte Dillon (DurC), Poppy Old and Poppy Wilde (both Elsw), Annabel Milburn (Gate) and Annie Hutchinson (Gosf).
SENIOR MEN (10,000m): Carl Avery and Alex Brown (both Morp), Calum Johnson (Gate), Jack Willis and Greg Jayasurya (both M&C), Carl Smith (TyneBr), Cameron Allan (Hough), David Green (NSP) and Kieran Walker (Midd/Mand).
JUNIOR MEN (8,000m): Charlie McMillan (Gate), Sam Charlton (Walls), Daniel Dixon, Daniel Melling and Ross Charlton (all Morp), Josh Cowperthwaite, Jake Creasey and Daniel Currie (all Mid/Mand).
UNDER-17 MEN (6,000m): Archie Lowe (Midd/Mand), Henry Johnson and Will Bellamy (Both Hough), Rowan Bennett and Dylan Gooding (both Morp), Ethan McGlen and Charlie Daley (both Gate) and John Russell (Darl).
UNDER-15 BOYS (4,000m): Chris Perkins (Birt), Josh Blevins, Oliver Douglas and Zak Old (all NSP), Joe Dixon and Ryan Davies (both Morp), Will Collinson (Blay) and Tom Slane (BhillBnds).
UNDER-13 BOYS (3,000m): Alex Bowyer and Harry Lyons (both Darl), Theo Dragio and MatthewDas (both Gate), Zac Brannon (NSP), Matthew Downs (NewMsk), Ethan Marron (Midd/Mand) and Oliver Tomlinson (Morp).
FOLLOWING on from a hugely successful Scottish Indoor Championships were North East athletes returned triumphant after trawling a large number of medals it was the turn of the multi-eventers to take their chance in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
Just five of the region’s youngsters made the trip but, once again, there was plenty to celebrate as two of those competitors came out on top in their respective pentathlon.
And it was something special in the under-13 contest where North Shields Poly’s Emily Bond not only scooped up the gold medal but her total of 2,968 points is a UK All-time record for an indoor pentathlon in her age group!
That didn’t really come as a surprise however, for Emily was in sparkling form throughout the day as she set new pbs in all five disciplines with two of those, the 60m hurdles and high jump, moving her to lead this year’s Individual rankings, with her 60m hurdles time also taking to the top of the all-time rankings.
Emily’s excellent day’s workload was: 800m, 2:33.84; 60m hurdles, 9.43s; HJ, 1:50m; LJ, 4:78m; Shot, 7:68m.
The North East’s second gold medal came in the under-15 girls section which saw four of the region’s athletes taking part and, just like the younger age group the newly-crowned champion, Gateshead’s Georgina Mabbutt produced life-time bests in all five disciplines.
In the 800m, Georgina posted a time of 2:29.66; she recorded 9.43s in the 60m hurdles; a clearance of 1:49m gave her good points in the high jump as did her long jump effort of 4:97m and her shot put mark of 9:49m which gave her a total of 3,176 points, over 150 points clear of her nearest rival.
Rebecca Harrison can really claim to be an all-round athlete for, before embarking on her pentathlon journey, the South Shields Harrier had finished 128th in the Northern Cross-country Championships in Bedale.
Rebecca showed no signs of wariness as she finished in 11th place (2,238pts) while setting four new pbs in the 800m (2:40.81); 60m hurdles (10.48s); long jump (4:07m); and the shot (6:08m).
Blaydon’s Jessica Doyle finished on 2,153 points for 13th place after setting a new pb of 2:15.3 in the 800m while Jarrow and Hebburn’s Grace Arthur scored 1,979 points for 21st place despite failing to finish in the 800m. Grace did, however, have some compensation for she set a new pb of 10:36s in the hurdles phase.
The North East had two representatives in the under-17 women’s pentathlon, Darlington’s Charlotte Rutter and Lily Cassidy of Gateshead and it was Charlotte who came closest to making it onto the podium where she had to settle for fourth place after accumulating 3,059 points just nine points adrift of the bronze medal winner. Charlotte did have the consolation of setting two new pbs, a clearance of 1:51m in the high jump and a put of 5:09m in the shot phase.
Lily, meanwhile, finished in 20th position after totalling 2,213 points and she was rewarded with a 60m hurdles pb of 10:49s.
Once again superb results for the region’s youngsters and their coaches which augurs well for the future.
Bill McGuirk is the North East's top athletics correspondent. NECAA Chairman and official, Bill can be found at all local athletics events supporting the sport he loves.