Photos by Dave Hewitson more at www.sportsforallpics.co.uk
IT WAS Come on Calum, Come on Calum in the final race of the day at the Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough and the huge support for the North East champion helped him surge home to a popular victory in the senior men’s 10k contest.
However, his success didn’t bear fruit when the totting up for team awards were announced as the region’s squad were down in fifth place much to the surprise of team manager Stewy Bell who had worked it out that his charges had finished in third spot.
While everyone was in a hurry to dash off home Bell was seen to discuss the problem with the race referee and the chip timing company re the fact that the NE’s third counter, Kieran Walker, was missing from the results. By all accounts video footage definitely showed the NE Project athlete crossing the finish line in 49th place but there was no sign of a chip on his ankle subsequently the ‘No chip, No Time’ rule came into play the referee’s decision on these matters is final.
It was a harsh outcome for it would have been an excellent reward for the depleted squad which had lost four of the original selection leaving Bell with just eight athletes to contest the 10k course made tricky due to the previous day’s heavy rain.
After the initial quick charge up the hill Johnson, who only decided to take his chance a few days earlier, found a wall of rivals ahead of him but he called on all his experience to gradually move up into the chasing pack behind the early pacesetters. Around half-way Johnson was still around 100 metres adrift of the leaders but he slowly but slowly closed the gap and by the final circuit was on the shoulder of Zak Mahamed who had finished fourth in the National two weeks earlier and finished runner-up in the BUCS previously to that. The momentum was now with the North East champion and it came as no surprise as they came into a crowded finishing straight it was Johnson who was roared all the way home to cross the line 21 seconds ahead of the Hampshire representative.
As he crossed the finish Johnson had a smile as wide as the Tyne – no tears this time - which said a lot for the athlete who will make his marathon debut in Wrexham at the end of next month which, hopefully, will lead to a call up for a major championship.
Johnson missed the National last month – he won in 2020 - for he felt he wasn’t quite right after having Covid over the New Year period so it was the Inter-Counties and the North East and Gateshead which benefitted from his appearance.
Before heading for the medal ceremony Johnson had this to say: “I was quite relaxed but after the fast start which often catches me out I think I was back in the 30s or 40s and by the first kilometre I managed to move through into the chasing group as two lads had moved way ahead. “Around half-way I was on the shoulder of one of the athletes with Zak now way ahead on his own. Conditions had worsened as the race progressed, it was very sticky with ankle deep mud in many places which suited me and I could see the gap shortening all the while so much so I eventually found myself in the lead and it was then a case of keeping my concentration all the way to the finish. Just like when I won the National it’s a great feeling coming home with everyone cheering you on, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Next home for the North East was county debutant and recently-crowned North East Masters champion, Jarlath McKenna who ran superbly to finish in 24th place less than two minutes behind Johnson. Then came Walker in 49th; Sunderland’s Stephen Jackson, one of the late replacements, was next in 64th place, evergreen Phil Wylie was close behind in 69th then came Gateshead’s Conrad Franks and Greg Jayasuriya (Middlesbrough and Cleveland) locked together in 81st and 82nd places with Morpeth’s Sam Hancox who decided to miss a Fast 5k on the same day after being asked if he would consider lining up in the Inter Counties just 48 hours before off time and finished a highly-creditable 86th.
Bell admitted that the depleted squad had run their socks off and while he was disappointed with the outcome team wise he was delighted for Calum and would not be drawn on picking out any of the rest of the team for special mention. “In one way it was a nice way to end the day but it certainly could have been better. I’m gutted for the rest of the lads for their efforts certainly should have been rewarded.’’
SENIOR WOMEN (8k)
THE Multi-coloured North East vest was visable among the leaders throughout the contest thanks to Shildon’s Kate Avery who has been a regular Inter-Counties representative since making her county debut in the under-13 age group.
Once the near 300-strong field settled Avery was with eventual winner and runner-up Mhairi MacLennan (Scotland East) and Oxfordshire’s Jessica Gibbon. Around the mid-way point MacLennan, who spent a short time in the North East with Morpeth Harriers, gradually upped the tempo with Avery struggling to stay in touch while behind the gaps became wider due to the sapping conditions.
MacLennan kept up the momentum all the way to the finish to win by eight seconds with Gibbon in second place 43 seconds clear of Avery.
Before setting off for her warm down Avery’s first words were: “How’s the team done?” which, when told they had finished in fifth place she added “that’s tough, it would have been great for the other girls and also to add another medal to my collection!”
Morpeth’s Cat MacDonald was closest at the finish in 28th place; Durham City’s Emma Bradley came 28th; while Amy Fuller (Elswick) was 53rd; Alex Sneddon (Jarrow and Hebburn) was 59th with Eleanor Bradbury (Blaydon) closing in the six to score in 112th place. Molly Pace (North Shields Poly) was 116th; Katarina Bonner (Elswick) was 123rd with late call-up Judith Nutt (Elswick) in 168th place.
Women’s team manager Lynn Cooper thought fifth place overall was a great result and was full of praise for Avery’s bronze medal run and also for Nutt who she thought did the team proud against many younger rivals.
UNDER-20 MEN (8k)
THIS was the opening event on the 10-race programme and the 180 or so starters got the best of the conditions before the course cut up as the day progressed.
In-form Houghton athlete Chris Coulson led the region’s charge to eventually finish in 31st place with his Houghton team-mate Will Bellamy, after a cautious start, next home in 46th position. Jarrow and Hebburn’s Peter Smallcombe finished in 57th place with Duncan Hughes (Blackhill Bounders) completing the four-to-score in 65th spot to close in the team in seventh place. Tynedale’s Charlie Daley finished 69th; Ryan Eden (North Shields Poly) was 120th; Sunderland’s Alex Seed was 137th and Morpeth’s Joseph Anderson finished 151st.
UNDER-20 WOMEN (6k)
HOUGHTON’S Anna Pigford led the region’s charge with one of her best runs to date to finish an excellent 19th despite finishing shoeless! Chester-le-Street’s Emily Chong was next home in 26th place followed by Birtley’s Tess Graham (38th) and Gateshead’s Lydia James (54th) with the team finishing just outside of the medals in fourth place. Backing up the scoring quartet were Houghton’s Any Leonard (87th) and Gosforth’s Carys Purves, who was 98th.
UNDER-17 MEN (6k)
LED home by a superb fourth-place finish by Houghton’s Brandon Pye the County claimed the bronze awards in the team section. Pye, ninth in the National at Parliament Hill, has grown in confidence since finishing second in the North East Championships in Sedgefield before Christmas and it was a close-run thing to claim an individual award, missing out by just four seconds. Gateshead’s Josh Blevins, the Northumberland Schools’ champion, was next home in an excellent 12th place with Morpeth’s William De Vere Owen (46th) and Sunderland’s Adam Hughes (52nd) completing the scoring four. Backing the medalists up were Blackhill’s Tom Slane in 55th place; Gosforth’s Silas Christie was 96th; Morpeth’s Bertie Marr was 111th and Gosforth’s Ethan Bond was 153rd.
UNDER-17 WOMEN (5k)
MORPETH’S Millie Breese led the region’s charge, finishing in 20th place in a highly-competitive contest. Breese finished just over a minute outside a medal spot as the conditions worsened due to the earlier contests. North Shields Poly’s Holly Waugh was next home in 44th place followed by Gateshead’s Jessica Milburn (50th) and Elswick’s Imogen Bungay who closed in the scoring four in 55th spot for a very respectable seventh place. Backing the quartet up were: Tynedale’s Jess Sails (62nd); Birtley’s Katie Francis (64th); Blackhill’s Hannah Bowyer (66th) and 70th-placed Ellie Van Der Mere (Morpeth).
UNDER-15 BOYS (4k)
NORTH Shields Poly’s Ben Sproats was the leading North East athlete home finishing in 43rd place and was then followed by Morpeth’s Oliver Calvert in 51st position. His Morpeth team-mate Oliver Tomlinson was next home in 59th place with Darlington’s Sylvan Tarn completing the scoring quartet in 80th place to finish in 11th position in the team stakes. Non scorers were: Elliot Kelso (Elswick) 88th; Joseph Close (Morpeth) 95th; Ethan Marron (Middlesbrough Mandale) 206th and Alex Boyer (Darlington) 234th.
UNDER-15 GIRLS (4k)
DURHAM City’s Charlotte Dillon led the region’s charge to a superb team bronze after finishing in ninth place. The North East champion was always up with the leaders and at the line was only a few seconds off making it on to the podium for an individual medal. Backing up Dillon was Darlington’s Zara Jones in 23rd position; Elswick’s Poppy Old was 56th and Middlesbrough Mandale’s Eden Creasey completed the quartet in 50th place. The team’s non-scorers were: Iona Johnstone (Gateshead) 67th; Freya Talman (Darlington) 75th; Ellie Fellows (Blaydon) 95th and Annie Hutchinson (Gosforth) 102nd.
UNDER-13 BOYS (3k)
TS Harriers, based in the Tees Valley, is the region’s youngest club having been formed just two years ago but already they have plenty to celebrate after their first-ever County representative returned from a major championship with a medal. Dawit Asmelash, who had finished runner-up in the County Championships in Sedgefield, belied his tender age and experience to lead the team home in second place after a superb sixth-place finish. Middlesbrough Mandale’s Charlie Jones finished 14 seconds behind Asmelash in 11th place with pocket dynamo Noah Williamson (Birtley) next home in 23rd position followed by Blaydon’s Jamie Lonergan who was the team’s final counter in 48th spot to give the North East a total of 88 points just nine points adrift of winners Surrey.
UNDER-13 GIRLS (3k)
WITH most of the girls having their first taste of a major championship it wasn’t surprising that they found the going tough against more seasoned rivals. North Shields Poly’s Katy Otterson was first home for the North East finishing in 43rd place followed by Heaton’s Mary Parkin in 67th position. Birtley’s Niamh Phillipson and North Shields Poly’s Anna Johnson completed the team’s scoring quartet in 83rd and 96th places respectively to finish a creditable 11th out of the 40 teams which finished.
The County’s non-scorers were: Ruby Dann (North Shields Poly) 111th; Sophie Quinn (Middlesbrough Mandale) 112th; Grace Carter (Durham City) 113th and Taylor Jett Miller (Chester-le-Street) 168th.
IT’S always a concern that, after checking things over time-and-time again, that things will go without a hitch when the occasion comes around. So, for Chris Lines, it was fingers crossed that everything would go smoothly when the North Eastern Counties Cross-Country Championships returned to Sedgefield after an absence of six years
In 2015 the course at Hardwick East Park competitors had to battle against a huge snow storm, something those who took part that day still talk about it. However, this time round the weather stayed kind for the majority of the day’s nine-race programme, though the senior women, contesting the last event, faced heavy rain at times.
Lines, actually took part in the championships in 2015 and came home in 128th place and, despite a few minor teething troubles on the day, which were quickly sorted, he took his place on the starting line this time round and showed he has not lost any of his fitness by coming home in 132nd position which was the icing on the cake for the local championships organiser.
After his 12k stint I managed to catch up with Lines who, despite his efforts up hill and down dale, had enough breath in his lungs to say: “I felt things had gone well during the early races so I thought everything was in safe hands for me to line up in the senior race and, with all the pressure off, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. “That, of course, would not have been at all possible if it had not been for the superb support me and my team of volunteers received which resulted in a determined effort that Sedgefield Harriers could deliver an event worthy of a county championship. “A lot of preparation by a host of people meant that the day went very smoothly and was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me! I have to say a massive thanks to all of our volunteers. We had scores of Sedgefield Harriers, members of other local organisations and many more individuals who helped out which I’m truly grateful for.
“When we were first approached by the North Eastern Counties to host the championships once more we were delighted to accept and I think we have repaid the Association’s trust in full. A lot of hard work goes into putting on a championship, but at the end of the day, it’s been all worthwhile and I’m hoping that all the competitors, our volunteers and all the officials enjoyed being part of the day.”
Further photographs of the event by Stuart Whitman
Senior Men (12k)
Calum Johnson was overlooked when the GB&NI team for the European Cross-Country Championships was announced so the Gateshead athlete turned his attentions to the county championships at Sedgefield. Having finished runner-up on two occasions – second to Jack Martin in Redcar in 2017 and silver medallist behind Carl Avery in Alnwick in 2019 –Johnson was determined to make it third time lucky and to prove a point to the UK selectors.
With four testing circuits ahead of him Johnson set out his stall from the off and in no time was quickly ahead of his 300 rivals, so much so by the completion of the first lap he had 80metres daylight between himself and Morpeth’s Finn Brodie, who was 20 metres ahead of the next group which included fellow Morpeth pair Sam Hancox and Alex Brown, Kieran Walker (North East Project), Greg Jayasuriya (Middlesbrough and Cleveland), Adrian Bailes (Birtley) and Liam Aldridge (Billingham Marsh House).
By the half-way point Johnson had extended his advantage to around 200m with Brodie, one of the region’s most improved athletes, pulling away from his chasers as the group behind was now down to just two, Hancox and Walker. Going into the final lap with many of the tailenders watching in awe as they were passed by the fleet-footed Johnson, who had extended his lead even further as he kept up a relentless momentum which saw him come home to a huge round of applause from the knowledgeable spectators lining the finishing straight. It was a high-standard exhibition of cross-country running which produced the biggest winning margin seen for many a year and a run, which surely would have helped the National team to finish in a podium position rather than finishing fifth in Dublin! Brodie hung on to claim the silver medal from the fast-finishing Walker – the Teesside club’s first county cross-country medallist - with Brown the pick of the rest to finish ahead of Jayasuriya and Hancox. Morpeth showed their strength in depth once again by taking the team award comfortably with their six counters finishing inside the top 17 while Gateshead finished in second place ahead of Tyne Bridge.
Senior Women (8k)
The senior women’s race brought the curtain down on a successful championships and, like the men’s contest, it was a gun to tape victory for Morpeth’s Catriona MacDonald.
The Northumbrian was having her second outing in the county championships having finished third on her debut at Alnwick in 2019 behind Sonia Samuels and Phillippa Stone. This time round there was no stopping MacDonald, who has been in fine form all winter for after the first short lap, she was already clear of her rivals with a group of around five trailing about 50 metres adrift. After negotiating the first of two circuits of the course proper MacDonald had already increased her advantage and barring an accident looked to be assured of her first title.Battling behind for the minor honours were Durham City’s Emma Bramley who came into the championships in good form having won the NEHL fixture at Aykley Heads, Amy Fuller (Elswick), Alex Sneddon (Jarrow and Hebburn), former championship silver medallist Jane
Hodgson (Morpeth), Chloe Price (Birtley) Jesmond Joggers’ Molly Pace and Jarrow and Hebburn’s Melissa Turner. Macdonald sensed the victory was in her grasp as she completed the final incline well aware that there was no danger and eventually came home 44 seconds ahead of Bramley with a smiling Fuller crossing the line to complete the podium places.
The medallists were followed across the line by Sneddon, Hodgson, Pace and Price.Jarrow and Hebburn, with Georgia Campbell (12th) and Stepth Pattinson (18th), backing up Sneddon and eighth-placed Turner, not only defended the team title but added a little history to the championships by being the first club to win the senior women’s championship four times in a row, a feat not likely to be repeated in a long time.
Under-20 Men (8k)
Middlesbrough’s Max Creasey was always in the driving seat as he took control in the early stages where he was tracked by Morpeth’s Daniel Dixon at the end of the first short lap. Following a short distance behind were Houghton’s Chris Coulson and Morpeth duo Joseph Anderson and Daniel Melling.Entering the final circuit Creasey had opened up a 50m advantage over Dixon as Coulson had moved ahead of Anderson. The positions remained the same over the final 3k with Creasey crossing the line 32 seconds clear of Dixon with Coulson claiming the third podium place ahead of Anderson. In the team stakes Morpeth were comfortable winners ahead of Durham City and Sunderland
Combined Under-17/20 Women (5k)
Contesting the lower age group Morpeth’s Millie Breese led the encouraging sized-field home after leading throughout the contest. The former Alnwick athlete was tracked in the early stages by under-20 athletes Ines Curran (Gateshead), Chester-le-Street’s Emily Chong and Houghton pair Eva Hardie and Anna Pigford with under-17s Jessica Milburn (Gateshead) and Birtley’s Katie Francis not far adrift. By the finish Breeze, in recording 19min 19secs, had 21 seconds in hand over Curran, who claimed the under-20 gold medal ahead of Chong and Hardie while Milburn and Francis headed for the podium behind Breese in the under-17 section.
Under-17 Men (6k)
Gateshead’s Josh Blevins and Morpeth’s Joe Dixon were quickly into their stride as they immediately pulled away from their rivals on the opening circuit while being followed by Brandon Pye (Houghton), Morpeth duo William De Vere Owen and Bertie Marr, Joseph West (Middlesbrough) and Tom Slane of Blackhill. The long-striding Blevins began to pull away midway through the final lap as Dixon began to tire which gave the chasers a chance to close the gap. Blevins eventually came home in 19:02 as Pye moved into silver medal position ahead of De Vere Owen who completed the one-two-three with Dixon slipping back to fourth. With Marr finishing in seventh place to back up De Vere Owen and Dixon, Morpeth were easy team winners finishing ahead of Gateshead and Sunderland with eighth-placed Adam Hughes leading the Wearsiders’ to the bronze awards.
Under-15 Girls (4k)
With two short circuits to encounter, Darlington’s Zara Jones and Charlotte Dillon (Durham City) were locked together at the completion of the first lap and were followed by Eden Creasey (Middlesbrough), Gosforth’s Annie Hutchinson and Poppy Old (Elswick). Midway through the final lap Dillon, one of the country’s leading young athletes over 3,000m, pulled away from her rival to come home in 16:32, 22 seconds ahead of Jones with Creasey the best of the chasing group to earn the bronze award. In the chase for team gold Darlington edged home with 21 points, followed by Elswick on 25 and Gosforth on 26.
Under-15 Boys (4k)
In the closest finish of the day Morpeth’s Oliver Calvert got up just before the line to pip Middlesbrough’s Ethan Marron with the timekeepers’ rewarding both athletes with the same time of 15:32 as Ben Sproats (North Shields Poly) chased the duo home just two seconds further adrift. Calvert, backed up by Oliver Tomlinson (5th) and Joseph Close (12th) won another team title for Morpeth with Middlesbrough second and North Shields Poly third.
Under-13 Girls (3k)
North Shields Poly’s Katy Otterson continued her winning start to the season with a hard-earned victory after Middlesbrough’s Sophie Quinn pushed her all the way. At the line Otterson finished just six seconds ahead of Quinn as Birtley’s Nell Graham, having her first race in the under-13 category after a successful under-11 campaign, claimed the bronze award. Thanks to Graham, her twin sister Kitty, who finished fifth and sixth-placed Niamh Phillipson, Birtley won the team race by just one point ahead of North Shields Poly with Morpeth finishing in third place.
Under-13 Boys (3k)
Middlesbrough’s Charlie Jones came out on top by six seconds with Dawitt Asmelash finishing runner-up to give TS Harriers their first-ever county cross-country medal. North Shields Poly’s Adam Feenan finished one second behind Asmelash to complete the one-two-three. Feenan, however, was rewarded with a Poly gold team medal after being backed up by Aidan Turner (4th) and Oscar Makepeace (6th). Darlington finished in second place with Birtley in third.
Under-11 Boys (One Mile)
The non-championship ‘Try Cross-Country’ for the younger age group once again proved popular with around 80 youngsters taking part. The boys’ contest was a success for Noah Penfold who came home 12 seconds clear of James Throup (Allerton) with Darlington’s Ollie Curran crossing the line just ahead of Allerton’s Jack Raw with both boys being credited with the same time.
Under-11 Girls (One Mile)
It was a Birtley one-two in the girls’ event with victory going to Olivia Murphy who had seven seconds in hand over team-mate Poppie Phillipson with Gateshead’s Emma Blackburn finishing in third place ahead of another Birtley runner, Izzy Hall.
AFTER an absence of 13 years Lewis Robson is back on the top of the podium after taking the North Eastern Counties Pentathlon senior title with a record-breaking score. Despite being the only senior entrant at Monkton Stadium the former double English Schools’ 400 metres champion showed glimpses of his former self as he scored a superb 2,630 points which eclipsed the championship best of Gateshead team-mate Richard Kaufman’s 2013 figures of 2,521pts as well as erasing the meeting record points of 2,526pts set by City of Sheffield’s Thomas Grantham in 2017.
Robson, now 33-years-old, has linked up with his former coach Derek Wilcox at the International Stadium and the duo are working together as though there has been no break in proceedings with the intention of Robson improving as much as possible before moving
up into the veterans’ categories. Robson’s day’s work was: 5:78m long jump; 35:88m javelin; 31:01m discus; 24:32s 200m and 5:00:27 1,500m, which, at the end of the final event, brought a huge smile to his face. After receiving his double reward, Robson said: “I’m naturally delighted with my day’s work, I came with the hope of breaking the records despite not having competed in a long jump or ran a 1500m since 2006, so that’s why I’m so happy. “After being away so long I never thought that I would be able to return to athletics, but getting in touch with Derek is the best thing I’ve done for many years. I’m hoping Derek is enjoying it as much as I am.”
The under-17 contest was won by Matthew Burton (South Shields) who totalled 1,824pts after setting new pbs in all five categories! Gateshead’s Cameron Marshall totalled 1,670pts to claim the silver medal after just missing out on a clean-sweep of pbs in the long jump. Yorkshire visitor Ruben Stovell came out on top in the under-15 boys section after scoring 2,328pts. Stovell, of Hallamshire Harriers, was lying in second place going into the final 800m sequence and he managed to pull out a huge pb of 2:13.74 to wrest the title from. Derby AC’s Sam Coulson who eventually had to settle for third place after also being overtaken by Darlington’s Ashton Harrison who was crowned NE champion with 2,069pts after producing four new pbs along the way. Harrison’s team-mate Thomas Hill finished in fourth place overall but was runner-up in the NE Championships after totalling 1,529pts.
The under-13 boys contest was an all North East affair with eventual winner, Darlington’s Hugo Douglas-Reeves taking the title with a score of 1,756pts, exactly 100 more than Gateshead’s Ben Cunningham, who led the competition after three events, with North Shields Poly’s Oliver Barlow claiming the final podium place with 1,270pts. While Douglas-Reeves can claim new pbs in three of the five phases it was Cunningham’s high jump clearance of 1:52m which certainly caught the eye, a height which moves him up
to third in the current Po10 rankings!
Like the senior men’s competition, the senior women’s contest also had only one competitor with victory going to Darlington’s Sarah Johnson who posted new pbs in the 100m (17.66s); high jump (1:46m) and shot put (8:55m).
In the under-20 women’s competition, Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis was another athlete with records on her mind. The current record of 2,355 points was set back in 2013 by Houghton’s Rachel Scott but Ellis was in determined mood from the off so much so she was never headed in the competition after opening with 15.31s in her favoured 100m hurdles. The teenager followed that up with 10:83m in the shot put; a 1:43m clearance in the high jump; a long jump best of 5:16m and finished off with 2:38.18 in the 800 metres which resulted in a superb 3,126pts to set a new championship and meeting record. Team-mate Gemma Smith finished in second place with 1,657pts with North Shields Poly’s Evie Perrett completing the one-two-three on 1,607pts
The under-17 women’s event was certainly a close-run thing with only 37 points separating the top three athletes at the end of the day. After posting new pbs in the high jump, 80m hurdles, shot put and long jump, Jarrow and Hebburn’s Lexi Brown had a slight lead going into the final 800m phase. However, despite running even quicker than ever before she was overtaken by North Shields Poly’s Anna Fitzpatrick and New Marske’s Molly Thrower and in the end had to be content with receiving the bronze awards after totalling 2,756pts. Thrower, meanwhile, posted a huge 800m pb to just edge second place by two points with a total of 2,758pts. However, it was Fitzpatrick, who also had to produce a new 800m life-time best to eventually secure top spot with a total of 2,793pts. Darlington’s Tori Buckley led the way in the under-15 girls event helped by a new high jump pb of 1:31m to total 2,547pts, which was just 67 points better than Blyth’s Senna Gorvett whose 2,480pts included new pbs in the long jump, high jump and 800m. Greater
Manchester visitor Amy Hewitt finished in third place, the Leigh athlete totalling 2,348pts. New Marske’s Georgia Richmond totalled 2,321pts in fourth place and received the NE Counties bronze medal.
The closest finish of the day came in the under-13 girls’ event with just five points separating Hartlepool AC’s Isla Watson and Neve Watson (no relation) at the end of the five disciplines. Isla held the advantage after two events and continued to lead going into the final 800m with a huge cushion. However, Neve, did her utmost to close the gap and did so significantly by posting 2:30.67 against Isla’s first-ever two-lap effort of 3:01.26. So, at the end of the day Isla totalled 2,279pts against Neve’s 2,274pts. What a finish! Darlington’s Lottie Graves went into the 800m lying in fifth place but her 2:37.91 moved her up into bronze medal position with a total of 2,082pts.
**The expected rain didn’t materialise and the sunshine for most of the day proved the weatherman wrong so it was well done to all the athletes and their supporters and huge thanks to Start Fitness, to all the technical officials, many of whom had been on duty in Redcar the previous day at the Northern Athletics Road Relays and to the stadium staff and first aid team without whom the championships would not go ahead.
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.
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.