A near-400 entries were received for the first of six North East Grand Prix fixtures which meant a revamp and an earlier start to the programme to ensure the events finished before Monkton Stadium closed its doors!
Despite the extremely cold conditions officials and athletes performed heroically to keep to a tighter-than-usual timetable which resulted in more than three-quarters of the competitors posting new personal bests. The weather may have been cold and blustery but competition was certainly hot throughout and while strict Covid restrictions were in force, those who were allowed into the arena certainly voiced their approval giving every competitor encouragement.
While age group athletes were certainly out in force that cannot be echoed when it comes to senior competition though that will surely change as the season unfolds. However, amongst the seniors who did turn out, there were two very interesting athletes on view, Lewis Robson and Charlie Myers. Not a lot of interest was forthcoming in race five of the 300 metres but on the start line was the extremely-talented three-time former English Schools’ champion Lewis Robson. Robson last set foot on the track back in 2008 competing in the Tartan Games at the International Stadium but he drifted out of the sport until finding a new lease of life recently by giving a helping hand to the coaches at Gateshead Harriers. And he showed he has still a lot to offer whether it be to don a Gateshead vest once more and compete for the Tynesiders or put his knowledge to good use from the sidelines after he scorched home to win his comeback race by over two seconds in a time of 38.23secs.
While Robson’s clocking wasn’t earth-shattering the winners of both the penultimate and final 300 metres events certainly made their mark. Evan Blackman (Corby AC) last competed in the region in 2016 when he finished in bronze medal position in the 300m (36.38s) at the English Schools’ Championships at the International Stadium. However, the East Midlands athlete showed he has improved over the years to win an exciting contest at Jarrow in 34.61s, a time which has him in third place in the Po10 rankings. Blackman had to be at his best though for pushing him all the way to the line was Gateshead’s under-20 athlete Josh McKeown who got the verdict for second place over team-mates Ben Schofield and Mark Collier.
In the 300m contest prior to that victory also went to a visiting athlete, William Ritchie-Moulin of Birchfield Harriers and a student at Durham University. Ritchie-Moulin, also an English Schools’ bronze medallist, beat off his rivals with an impressive 35.75s. Amongst the females competing in the 300m Gateshead’s Beth Pringle (u-20) was quickest with a time of 40.74s. At under-15 level North Shields Poly’s Reuban Moss posted 41.41s.
There were 11 150 metres races on the programme and down to run in the final contest was Olympic pole vault hopeful Charlie Myers, a surprise entry as he builds up towards a trip to Tokyo. And the Birtley athlete certainly showed he has speed to compete with the best by finishing in third place in 16.99s behind Gateshead pair Scott Hall (16.54s) and Matthew Lumb (16.62s).
Others who caught the eye over the rarely-run distance included under-15 Millie Wilkinson (Blyth) 19.49s; Melody Brooks (North Shields Poly), under-17 with 19.26s while, in the same age group Joel Brown-King (Gateshead) recorded 17.03s. Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis posted 18.61s for the quickest under-20 female.
In the 75 metres events Blyth’s Millie Wilkinson (under-15) recorded 9.74s while North Shields Poly senior, James Mole, was quickest overall with 9.59s.
Ten 1500 metres races were down for decision with final race a fitting climax to a superbly organised fixture. It turned into a truly-run race with in-form David Race taking up pace-making duties from the early stages. He was shadowed throughout by fellow Gateshead athletes Matthew Linsley and Josh Blevins, Houghton’s Henry Johnson, Dan Joyce of Tynedale and Morpeth’s Kieran Hedley. Race still led at the bell and as the pace increased his rivals were waiting to pounce. Down the back straight for the final time Joyce eased ahead but with around 150m to go Johnson, with an incredible burst of speed shot to the front which he held on well all the way to the line to win in 3:53.69. Joyce finished runner-up in 3:54.83 and Race completed the one-two-three in 3:56.07. All three athletes compete in the under-20 age group and their performances slot them into third, fourth and fifth place respectively in the current Po10 rankings. Blevins, meanwhile, an under-17 competitor, finished in fifth place in 4:00.60 and is now third ranked. Other notable 1500m performances included Birtley’s Noah Williamson (u-13) who posted 5:07.53; Harry Lyons (Darlington u-15) 4:29.27; Poppy Old (Elswick, u-15) 4:55.13 and Ines Curran (Gateshead, u-20) 4:38.35.
Among the field events, Birtley’s Rowan Mason and Neve Watson (Hartlepool Youth) were in good form in the long jump, Mason, u-17, posting 5:82m and Watson, u-13, putting a mark in the sand at 4:06. In the javelin contests, Gateshead duo Skye Marshall (u-13) and Phoebe Hall (u-15) were on song with throws of 21:99m and 32:81m respectively.
Competition moves to Teesside this weekend with another bumper entry when, hopefully, the weather will be a little kinder.
Photos Courtsey of David Hewitson Sportsforallpics.co.uk
WHAT do Holly Whittaker (Elgin), Charlotte Dillon (Durham City), Leila Thompson (Alnwick), Joe Perkins (Birtley), Josh Blevins (Gateshead), Corey Campbell (Team East Lothian), Callum Hendry (Victoria Park, Glasgow), Joy Eze (Gateshead) and James Wordsworth (North Shields Poly) have in common. The answer is they all top the early-season Po10 rankings in their respective events after competing in the highly-successful NECAA fixture at Morpeth.
On a near-perfect weather day over 200 eager competitors took to the track – and field – and they certainly excelled with over 150 of them setting new pbs though, due to Covid regulations firmly in place, spectators were at a premium to witness their efforts.
From sprints to middle distance and jumps to throws, the smile on competitors faces throughout the day told it all as the action unfolded. And exciting action was the name of the game time and time again. On the track 14 800m races opened the progamme and it was pbs all the way ending with a superb encounter in the final race. The line-up certainly lived up to its billing despite no senior athlete on the start line. Middlesbrough Mandale’s Sam Tyers was the fastest on paper and immediately took up the running pulling his rivals through to the bell in an extremely brisk 53 seconds. Sam, an under-20 athlete, was tracked by Gateshead duo Josh Blevins (u-17) and David Race (u-20), Birtley’s Chris Perkins (u-17) and North Shields Poly entry Zac Old (u-17).
Sam kept the pace going and was still heading the field entering the home straight for the final time. However, it was David who proved the strongest in the closing stages overtaking the Teessider to go on and win in a superb 1min 52.36secs, a time which is the fastest outdoors in the UK this term. Sam finished runner-up 1:53.95 while there were Grade 1 standards for third-placed Josh (1:55.12), fourth-placed Chris (1:56.65) and fifth-placed Zac (1:57.00). Middle distance running in the region is on the up once again if those youngsters is anything to go by.
In an earlier two-lap event Elswick’s Poppy Old also produced a Grade 1 under-13 performance of 2:19.13 which places her in sixth place in the current rankings.
In the 12 heat 200m there were two Grade 1 performances, both by teenagers. Scottish visitor Holly Whittaker (Elgin Amateur AC) stormed home in her event in 28.38s, a new pb and an added reward which sees her top the under-13 Po10 rankings. The second Grade 1 came as no surprise when 2019 England Schools 100m champion, Joy Eze (Gateshead) after moving up an age group defied a slight headwind to win her event an a new pb of 24.28s, a time which is the best under-20 recorded in the UK this year.
To round off the track events there were four 3,000m races and once again a Scottish raider was prominent, so much so Corey Campbell’s new Grade 1 pb of 8:46.92 in finishing runner-up behind Blyth’s Josh Fiddaman (u-20) places him at the head of the Po10 rankings. After the initial jockeying for position in the early laps Josh, Corey, Morpeth’s Daniel Melling and Newcastle University’s Jack Douglas broke away from the rest of the field as the pace wound up. At the bell Corey had a slight advantage with Josh tracking him all the way until entering the home straight where he managed to forge ahead to cross the line in an impressive 8:45.06. Daniel finished in third place in 8:52.74 with Jack forth in 8:59.84.
Not content with an eye-catching performance in the 200m Holly Whittaker then lined up in the long jump where she managed to produce another life-time best by putting a mark in the sand at 4:68 metres, a distance that also heads the Po10 rankings.
While it’s always nice to report on good performances the opening fixture was all about giving athletes the chance to blow away the cobwebs after an extremely difficult year-and-a-half and what came through loud and clear is that athletes and their coaches have continued to work against the odds through the pandemic and despite the drawbacks they were back and the smiles told it all so a massive pat on the back to everyone who took part and to the officials and the main man, meeting organiser Keith Wilshire, for making it all happen.
This weekend sees track and field action return to Shildon after an absence of four years while the first of the region’s Grand Prix series is scheduled for Monkton Stadium on Wednesday, April 28 which will be followed by the second NECAA Open fixture at Middlesbrough on Sunday, May 9. After such a long break from competition fixtures are now coming thick and fast so to everyone keep fit and healthy and continue to enjoy your athletics.
THE TRIP to Thornley Hall Farm is usually accompanied with athletes asking ‘how muddy will the course be!’ However, on the occasion of the curtain-raiser – and the closure – of the North East cross-country campaign, they were met with a bone-hard circuit much to the surprise of all who ventured to the County Durham countryside to partake in the inaugural North Eastern Counties Cross-Country Relay Championships.
Thanks to landowner Jon Taylor’s generosity and the hard-working race organiser, Archie Jenkins, the event, under strict Covid conditions, went ahead smoothly after an immaculate minute silence held in honour of the death of Prince Philip.
No spectators were allowed at the farm with team managers permitted to watch the action unfold from a vantage point well away from the course as the appointed Covid officials made sure those that were fortunate to be in attendance were aware of what was expected of them. Thanks to the generosity of the region’s athletes a collection for the ManHealth Charity managed to raise a staggering £562.23.
There were five events on the programme – Masters Women (40+), Masters Men (40+), Senior Women, Senior Men and Under-20 Men - with limited entries accepted due to the latest Government and England Athletics’ restrictions with first leg runners spread out two-metres apart on an extended start line.
MASTERS WOMEN (3x3k Relay)
THE Master’s Women opened the day’s action and it was Tyne Bridge who came to the changeover point in first place ahead of 19 rivals thanks to Alison Dargie’s effort of 12min 14sec, a time which was to prove the overall best of the contest. North Shields Poly (Stephanie Dann) were 10 seconds adrift in second spot with Birtley (Lorna Graham) a further nine seconds back in third position.
On stage two the Poly moved into pole position with over a minute advantage thanks to the stages’ fastest time by Becky Coleman as Elswick improved from sixth (Joanne Brown) to second thanks to Felicity Smith. Tyne Bridge (Charlotte Carpenter) were now back in third. Going into the final stage the Poly had an advantage of nearly a minute-and-a-half as Alison Smith set off. However, it was Elvet Striders who proved to be their biggest rivals in the chase for the gold medals. The Durham team were back in eighth place (Anna Basu) on stage one and improved to sixth (Corrine Whaling) on the penultimate stage but still over two minutes adrift of the leaders. However, Anna Thompson quickly set about cutting back the deficit and while the Poly still held a significant advantage at the finish Thompson had reeled in everyone else as she posted the second quickest time of the day to see Elvet home to take the runners-up awards. Elswick, thanks to Andrea Banner, claimed the final podium place.
MASTERS MEN (3x3k Relay)
THE all-conquering Sunderland club continued to dominate NE masters events with a gun-to-tape victory though there were only 20 seconds in it at the end as Darlington claimed an exciting second place two seconds ahead of Elvet Striders.
Michael Barker had opened up the blue-vested Wearsiders’ account with the fastest overall time of 10:09 with Darlington (John Clifford) in second place 18 seconds adrift. Tyne Bridge (Cees Van Der Land) were a further five seconds back in third place after 38 teams had faced the starter. On stage two Sam Thurlbeck increased Sunderland’s advantage over Darlington (Paul Cook) while Michael Littlewood, with the stage’s quickest time, moved Elvet Striders up from fourth to second. Chris Jackson had the honour of contesting the glory leg for Sunderland and it was a comfortable outing as the battle for minor honours hotted up behind. It was Darlington who were to prevail in the chase for second place with Wesley Tarn’s fastest stage time being enough to edge out Elvet (Graeme Watt) by two seconds.
SENIOR WOMEN (3x3k Relay)
ELSWICK Harriers pulled out a master stroke by including over-40 athlete Judith Nutt in their team. Despite the long competitive lay-off, Amy Fuller carried over her excellent form to give Elswick the perfect start by posting the fastest time of the day on the opening leg, an advantage the Newcastle club held all the way to the finish. Gateshead (Gillian Manford) were in second place followed by Jesmond Joggers (Molly Pace).
On stage two the leading positions stayed the same with Nichola Conlon keeping the Newcastle outfit ahead despite Gateshead’s Katherine Downie cutting back the lead by 10 seconds. Jesmond (Emma Glover) were still in third place with Morpeth the biggest stage movers, improving from 12th (Lorna MacDonald, who battled on despite picking up an injury) to fourth thanks to Lindsey Quinn. On the final stage Elswick played their ace and it proved a winner. Despite the best efforts of her younger rivals Nutt’s experience proved to be a successful formula as she brought Elswick home 15 seconds clear of Gateshead (Katherine Downie) as Morpeth (Catriona MacDonald) moved into third place to claim the bronze awards. Quickest on the stage was Lydia Turner as she brought Birtley through from 13th to seventh.
SENIOR MEN (4x3k Relay)
THE expected rivalry between three of the region’s most successful clubs prevailed with victory going to Gateshead who finished ahead of Sunderland and Morpeth.
Sunderland were in pole position at the first changeover thanks to Michael Wilson’s 9:25 effort, a time which was to prove the second best of the day. Gateshead (Conrad Franks) were in second place 21 seconds adrift with Tyne Bridge (Michael Hedley) also 21 seconds behind in third place. Jordan Scott brought Morpeth home in fourth spot. On leg two Liam Taylor added valuable seconds to Sunderland’s lead as Tom Charlton moved Tyne Bridge ahead of Gateshead (James Cripwell). Things changed dramatically on the penultimate stage as Gateshead’s National Cross-Country champion Calum Johnson took over 39 seconds down on Sunderland’s Nathan Reed. Johnson, who honoured an agreement to turn out for the team despite being down to contest a road race, quickly cut back the deficit and when he came to the final changeover he had an advantage of 27 seconds after being the only competitor to dip under nine minutes with a 8:54 clocking. Adam Pratt moved Morpeth into third place as Tyne Bridge (Neil Eyes) slipped back to fifth behind Sunderland’s B team.
Despite new Sunderland recruit Stephen Jackson’s quickest efforts on the final leg the Wearsiders had to be content with the runners-up medals as Daniel Alexander continued to keep him at bay to bring the Tynesiders home with a 15-seconds advantage. Alistair Douglass brought Morpeth home in third place followed by Sunderland’s B team, Jarrow and Hebburn and Morpeth’s B team. After his eye-catching performance, Johnson said: ‘’I had agreed to run for the club weeks ago and it would have been unfair to drop out of the team. As it happens it also fitted better into my plans for my half-marathon debut in two weeks time. It means I can do a longer tempo run tomorrow as today was nice and short and not too taxing on the body.’’
UNDER-20 Men (3x3k Relay)
ONLY five teams from three of the region’s clubs faced the starter and it was a runaway victory for the Morpeth trio of Matthew Briggs, Rowan Bennett and Ross Charlton as Durham City finished second and their B team third. However, clubs could only be awarded one set of medals which resulted in Houghton being promoted into bronze medal position. What stood out in the event was the performance of Charlton who ran the last leg for Morpeth in a time of 9:38, a time bettered by only two athletes in the senior event!
ON THIS DAY FEBRUARY 24, 2001 Michael Openshaw was crowned National Cross-Country champion roared on by huge local crowd at Maiden Castle, Durham City
The superb victory by the Chester-le-Street-based athlete came out of the blue as pre-race media attention never gave him a mention possibly due to the fact that he was a doubtful starter plus the fact that he missed out on a place in the GB&NI team for the World Cross after finishing 10th in the Trials at the Inter-Counties at Wollaton Park, Nottingham three weeks earlier. So, for us who were there that day, it came as a huge surprise to spot Openshaw an hour or so before the off warming up as the rest of the championship programme unfolded.
I managed to catch up with Michael earlier this week and after jogging his memory of this time 20 years ago he vividly remembered the day that turned out to be the springboard to the best year of his athletics career.
“Despite the National being held so close to home it wasn’t in my plans to run after the disappointment of not making the team for the World XC Championships,” confessed Openshaw. “At Wollaton Park I could have opted to run the short course (4k) Trial but decided to take my chance over the longer distance which, unfortunately, didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. “In the early stages I was feeling really comfortable in the leading group but for some reason got into a verbal confrontation with another athlete which resulted in me shooting to the front and forcing the pace on. “That rush of blood probably proved to be my downfall for in the end I slipped back down the field to finish 10th just over a minute adrift of Glynn Tromans.”
By now Openshaw had left his home-town club and linked up with Midlands-based outfit Birchfield Harriers but at Nottingham, which was also the Inter-Counties Championships, he was a member of the winning North Eastern Counties team which was led home on that occasion by Dominic Bannister who had finished in third place. On all accounts on returning home Openshaw’s cross-country campaign was over especially as fixtures in March were cancelled up and down the country due to the foot and mouth disease. However, all things changed dramatically on February 24 when Openshaw made his intentions to contest his first-ever National as a senior.
“I didn’t have the motivation to do any serious training after the Trials as there didn’t seem any reason as I certainly had no plans of running the National at that point,” added Openshaw.
“However, on the morning of the race, literally four or so hours before it was due to start I rang Gordon (Surtees, his coach), who was on a train, and I said rather than go for that 10-mile training run which was what I had originally planned to do, I fancy giving the National a go and I think he said OK then so that was that and I started to gather my gear together before heading over to Durham."
“One thing certain I didn’t have any pre-race nerves and I just thought to myself go out and enjoy myself and that’s what I did. The race itself turned out to be what I had expected and surprisingly, despite the lack of training, I felt comfortable as the likes of Keith Cullen, who had finished second in the Trials, and Rob Denmark (formerly of Gateshead Harriers) pushed on at the head of affairs as I settled in the main group just behind.
“By half-way Cullen had opened up a slight lead as the bunch behind began to break up but I was still going along nicely at that point. With just over a lap to go I managed to reel Cullen in and ran with him for a short period then, for some unknown reason, he just stepped off the course, whether he felt he should save himself for the forthcoming World Championships or whatever left me bewildered."
"I certainly didn’t want to be left in the front with over a mile still to go it just wasn’t my way especially after what happened in the Trials. Luckily, Sam Haughian - who went on to win the National in 2002 but tragically died in a car crash in 2004 - managed to join me and we were stride-for-stride entering the closing stages."
“My confidence grew the closer we got to the finish for I sensed everyone lining the course was rooting for me and was banking on my track speed would to come into play and that’s the way it panned out as I went for home with around 200 metres to go and, thankfully, managed to get the gap before crossing the finish line."
In a way I supposed I surprised myself but not as much as it did to my old friend Jim Colpitts who was officiating at the finish. He was manning the ropes that day and the sight of me charging down the home straight caught him out so much so that he managed to drop the rope just as I crossed the line!"
It was a great feeling going up to receive the trophy with many people staying behind for the presentation and giving me a huge cheer. Being a local it was possibly the loudest of the day.
“Looking at the names on the trophy certainly gave me a proud feeling especially five or so hours earlier I wasn’t even going to run!’’
After missing out on a place for the Sydney Olympics the year before Openshaw’s target for the rest of 2001 was gaining selection for the August IAAF World Championships which were scheduled for Edmonton, Canada. However, for that to happen he had to run sub 13min 25sec 5,000m, a qualifying time over eight seconds quicker than his lifetime best of 13:33.26 which he recorded in Milan in June. Openshaw was in a quandary, should he line up in the Trials in Birmingham or should he take a chance and go to Heusden, northern Belgium where a high-class field was assembled.
“It was a huge decision to make and extremely difficult. By missing the Trials would the selectors take it as a slant against them but on the other hand endurance races at the Trials are usually slow-run so even if I managed to have won there would be a good chance it wouldn’t be quick enough “So, I made the decision to go to Belgium with the hope that I could get the time required and that no-one managed it at the Trials. In the end the Trials were won in 13:52.72 while I managed to just get under the figures required by running a huge personal best of 13:24.44 even though I could only finish 15th in the race."
“It was a huge relief to know that I had made the right decision though I still had an anxious wait before the selectors got in touch to say I was in the team. Big decisions seemed to be the order of the day for me during 2001 but thankfully the one to run the National at the last moment and the one to go to Belgium instead of lining up in the Trials certainly were ones to be pleased with.’’
Unfortunately, for Openshaw, who was the only British male endurance athlete to make it to Canada, he couldn’t quite repeat his Belgium exploits in the World Championships where he was eliminated in the heats after clocking one of his slowest ever 5,000m times of 14:00:84.
THE North East athletics family has been hit a double whammy with the news that long-serving officials John Keefe and Hudson Stoker passed away last weekend.
It’s a huge blow to everyone who knew the two superb servants who graced the field of athletics in a special style by going about their business in a quiet but exceptional way and with their passing the sport will be a lonely place without them.
The Harrier League in particular is hugely grateful and appreciative for the tireless work the pair put in over many years which, in a sense, helped make the NEHL the envy of other cross-country leagues throughout the country.
John started life as an athlete with his home-town club Jarrow Cycling and Athletics Club having notable successes giving the club a strong standing in the region. A move into the admin side with the likes of Tommy Power, Jimmy Hedley, Bob Charlton and Eric Huskisson after a name change to Jarrow and Hebburn Athletics Club, saw the South Tyneside outfit prosper even further especially when they had athletes of the calibre of Steve Cram and the largely unheralded David Sharpe, proud athletes who competed on the World stage in the famous gold with blue sash vest.
If his work at the club wasn’t enough – he filled all the major positions at one time or another – John took on the role as Harrier League secretary at a time when the organisation was struggling for funds. But he had the answer. He asked for volunteers on race days to go round with a bucket persuading competitors and their supporters to dig deep for the cause and it worked a treat so much so the league is now in a much healthier state now as the collecting bucket is no longer and in the archives of history!
Jonathan Gilroy presenting John Keefe with the Jarvis Award at Jarrow & Hebburn's 80th Anniversary
After passing over the league secretary position John continued to be a regular at Jarrow & Hebburn and local fixtures despite some atrocious weather working as an official at the finish line, a role he also enjoyed in warmer climes at track meetings throughout the region.
Hudson, meanwhile, was, in comparison to John, a relatively late starter to the local athletics scene after linking up with the Northumbrians in 1986. However, he quickly made his mark after working alongside great friend George Patterson as members of Morpeth Harriers.
A gentle gentleman, Hudson proved an asset to the Northumberland outfit where he took on many tasks without question, a fact quickly recognised by the hierarchy which resulted in him being installed as a life-member.
Away from his club duties Hudson found a new niche when he took up announcing duties like a duck to water. While local events were the bread and butter, especially with the mic in one hand and his beloved camera around his neck ready for action before proclaiming in that immaculate voice of his: ‘Slow pack you have five minutes to the start’ at a HL fixture. His calm delivery quickly got him recognised where he was installed at Northern Athletics’ events as well as English Road Relay Championships.
RIP John and Hudson, our thoughts and prayers are with all your family and friends at this sad time.
*For further tributes to John and Hudson check the relative club websites
George & Hudson at the 2019 Northern's XC Champs
IT MAY not have been what we have been accustomed to but the weekend’s track and field action at Middlesbrough and Morpeth was a huge step forward since athletics was suspended from the offset of the season.
However, what came through loud and clear from the fixtures at both ends of the North East Counties region was that club coaches and their athletes certainly hadn’t let boredom set in during the past six months or so for numerous new personal bests were the order of the day at both venues.
On Teesside 33 new pbs were set while the Northumberland King Edward VI School track witnessed an incredible 82 life-time best performances – a truly amazing statistic which saw the majority of competitors, many of whom were having their first competitive outdoor action of the year, going home happy.
With such a high number of spectacular offerings on show it would be impossible to highlight them all but a number certainly caught the eye despite their being no spectators in attendance due to current Government guidance.
However, with the hope of not upsetting anyone, here is a short round-up of events from both stadia where windy conditions prevailed.
Fastest sprinter on view at Middlesbrough Sports Village was Gateshead’s Scott Hall who posted a 100m time of 10.90s with Kingston-upon-Hull visitor, David Morgan-Harrison (u-20), pushing him all the way to line in 10.97s. The Humberside athlete, with Hall an absentee, went on to win the 200m later in the day. Fastest female over 200m was home-based Charlotte Kelsey (u-17) who recorded a superb 24.64s, a time which moves her up to fifth place in the current Po10 rankings for 2020.
Since lockdown has eased, Houghton’s Henry Johnson (u-20 ) has excelled over two laps having dipped under 1:50 for the first time. However, the teenager dropped down in distance to contest the 400m and proceeded to produce an excellent sub-50 seconds for only the second time where he recorded a new pb of 49.34s. Johnson’s Houghton team-mate Will Bellamy (u-20) triumphed in the two-lap event after his superb run recently at Stretford, to win in 1:53.07 while Steve McMahon (Sunderland) posted 2:07.66 competing in the over-40 category.
Among the field events Leeds City duo Mark Johnson (v55) and Colin Hayton (v60) were best pole vaulters on view clearing 3:92m and 2:70m respectively; former Morpeth athlete Craig Charlton, now competing for Woodford Green, set a new pb of 17:08m in the shot put, a distance which sees him move to fourth in the 2020 Po10 listings while Emily Stewart (Gateshead) set a new pb of 9:79m and Alnwick’s Talia Thompson was just three centimetres short of her best (10:93m) in her under-17 section.
Twenty-fours after the Middlesbrough fixture action moved further North to Morpeth with a number of athletes lining up for a second time. On the track there were 13 races at both 100m and 800m with Hall among those in the sprint after competing in Teesside. This time however, despite running quicker (10.84s) he had to give way to Leeds City’s European Junior Championship representative Joe Ferguson who got the verdict in 10.65s. Gateshead’s Josh McKeown (u-20) lined up in the same race and posed a pb of 11.15s while Matthew Lumb (u-17) was the quickest in his event with a huge new pb of 11.17s, a time which places him inside the top 10 in the country. The quickest under-15 athlete on the day was Joel Brown-King (Gateshead) with a new pb of 11.17s which moves him up to fifth in the current UK rankings. Nicola Caygill (Jarrow and Hebburn) was fastest woman on view (12.10s). Gateshead’s Joy Eze was quickest under-17 with 12.24s after posting a wind-assisted 12.11s the previous day. The Tyneside club were also celebrating after Amelia Sherlock recorded a new pb of 12.87s as the fastest under-15.
Despite the suspension of competition Gateshead’s David Race (u-17) has come on leaps and bounds this season under the guidance of John Stephenson and he showed a good turn of foot once more to post the fastest 800m time of the day of 1:55.23. Rotherham’s Zak Ferguson celebrated the trip north to set a new pb of 2:04.42 at under-15 which moves him to fifth in the Po10 listings. Back competing in a Morpeth vest Nisha Desai was the fastest female in action posting 2:14.59 while Millie Breese (Alnwick) was quickest under-17 with 2:26.62 and Elswick’s Poppy Old was quickest under-15 with 2:23.47.
In the long jump Gateshead’s junior international Lucy Turner, another who had competed in Middlesbrough, put a mark in the sand with a season’s best of 5:56m while Blaydon’s Liam Reveley led the field with a leap of 6:40m to finish ahead of Jarrow and Hebburn’s Thomas Paterson (under-17) who set a new pb of 5:95m. Gateshead’s Lily Cassidy also a set a new pb of 4:77m to top the under-17 section.
North Shields Poly’s James Wordsworth moved to sixth place in the under-20 shot put rankings with a superb new pb of 15:29m while Sophie Littlemore (Gateshead) took the honours in the senior women’s section with a put of 13:32m. There were also shot put pbs for Thomas Mann (Gateshead, u-15) 11:74m; Ryan Cook (Birtley, u-15) 10:85m; Eve Robson (Middlesbrough, u-20) 10:72; Grace Arthur (Jarrow and Hebburn, u15) 9:23m; Rebecca Harrison (Jarrow and Hebburn, u-15) 7:63m and Ellie O’Halloran (Jarrow and Hebburn, u-20) 7:20m.
Border Harrier Damon King (u-17) produced a huge pb of 48:14m in the hammer competition which slots him at fifth in the UK rankings. Birtley’s Fynn Errington won the under-15 section with a new pb of 25:82m while Middlesbrough’s Grace Mcdonald was the pick of the under-17 women with a throw of 48:70m and the best of the under-15 girls’ contestants was Gateshead’s Lexie Ellis with a pb effort of 39:85m which consolidates second place in this season’s rankings.
NECAA are pleased to announce their second Track & Field competition of 2020, with the competition again being at King Edward School Track, Morpeth on Sunday September 6th.
More events have been added to the timetable and these will be;
Track; 200M, 300/400M, and 1500M
Field; Long Jump, Triple Jump, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin
We will also allow entries from All Age groups from U13’s upwards
Entries close on Sunday 30th August and further details here: www.necaa.info
THE region’s multi-eventers were in action both here in the region and in Sheffield which saw some extremely fine competition with performances of the highest calibre. The North Eastern Counties Pentathlon Championships took place at Gateshead College indoor facilities while Sheffield hosted the English Age Group Pentathlon.
TWO weeks after claiming the Scottish under-15 Indoor Pentathlon title Gateshead’s Georgia Mabbott did likewise when she travelled to Sheffield for the English equivalent. While Georgia had a comfortable victory in Glasgow by over 100 points after totalling 3,176, the competition however was much closer in Yorkshire where she came out on top by just ONE point after accumulating one point less than she did when winning the Scottish gold medal. In Sheffield the victory wasn’t confirmed until the last of the five phases though the Tynesider did manage two new pbs during the day-long competition which just gave her the edge over Alice Wilson of Team Bath with Sophie Lisk (Cardiff Archers) claiming the bonze award just 19 points adrift of the runner-up.
NUMBERS were slightly down on previous years but the standard of competition was excellent which resulted in two new championship best performances and one meeting record.
Sixteen competitors were in action in the under-13 girls contest and once again Emily Bond was in outstanding form where she not only set a new championship record but also scored 60 points more than the two-year figures of Southport Waterloo’s Amber Hughes. The North Shields athlete, who was recently crowned Scottish champion, set out her stall from the first event and was never headed thereafter. Emily recorded the fastest 60m hurdles time (9.37s) before setting a new pb of 7:98m in the shot put phase, a distance which was second best behind Hannah Wilson, the Blyth athlete eventually finishing runner-up at the end of the day behind Emily. Next up was the high jump which saw Emily increase her advantage after a clearance of 1:49m. The momentum was maintained in the long jump, the penultimate phase of the competition where a mark in the sand at 4:74m saw her add further daylight ahead of her rivals. The 60m was the final event of the day and while Emily sprinted to a pb of 8.47s it was only the fourth fastest overall with Millie Wilkinson (Blyth), who eventually finished in bronze medal position, recording a superb 8.16s. The championship medallists: Gold: Emily Bond (North Shields Poly) 3,041pts; Silver: Hannah Wilson (Blyth Running Club) 2,787pts; Bronze: Millie Wilkinson (Blyth Running Club) 2,549pts.
The second new championship best came in the under-13 boys event which saw Blyth’s Luke Pichler add a huge 231 points to the old 2013 figures of Gateshead’s Oliver Herring. Luke led the way from the first phase and, like Emily was never headed after that. He was quickest over the hurdles; best in the high jump, despite a couple of run ins with the uprights, long jump, shot put and 60m. Luke totalled 1,808 pts with Dante Evans (New Marske) finishing in silver medal position on 1,47pts. City of York’s William Hickling accumulated 1,234pts for third place while Chester-le-Street’s Owen Barron claimed the county bronze award with 1,201pts.
The under-15 girls’ championship was won by New Marske’s Molly Thrower setting three new pbs along the way. The Teessider opened with a pb (9.53s) in the 60m hurdles and followed that with a pb in the high Jump (1:49m) and finally in the 60m (8.53s). Molly totalled 2,991pts with City of York pair Emily Maude and Rosie Hickling finishing in second ad third place with 2,921pts and 2,716pts respectively. Ella Jones (Chester-le-Street), in fourth place received the county silver medal with Emma Sedgwick (Middlesbrough Mandale) completing the podium places.
Ashley Watson (Hartlepool Youth) claimed victory in the under-17 women’s event after accumulating 3,222pts. Asley won by just under 200 points which wasn’t surprising as she set new figures in four of the five phases. Ashley opened with a 60m hurdles pb of 9.06s; followed that with a high jump life-time best of 1:46m; she did likewise in the long jump (4:91m). Unfortunately, Ashley missed out on a shot put pb with 8.35m but was back in pb mode in the final 60m phase where she recorded 8.19s. Alena Dixon, of Bury AC, finished in second place with 3,025pts with Quisha Graham (North Shields Poly) finishing third and second in the county championship with 2,836pts. Jarrow and Hebburn’s Lexi Brown, who finished in fourth spot (2,808pts), received the country bronze medal.
In the under-20 men’s contest victory went to Blaydon’s Sam Gorman after totalling 3,186pts. Wakefield’s James Simms finished runner-up (2,864pts) while Regan Langley (Doncaster) claimed third place with 2,161pts.
The senior men’s event was an all visitor affair with victory going to Hallamshire’s Thomas Hughes (3,086pts); Doncaster’s Nathan Langley finished runner-up with 2,960pts and Dartford’s Matt Rushden completed the one-two-three.
In the under-17 men’s competition Leeds City’s Morgan Williams came out on top finishing with 3,037pts with Jarrow and Hebburn’s Thomas Paterson claiming the county title in second place after accumulating 2,901pts. Amber Valley’s Ben Pitts finished in third place (2,492pts) with Hartlepool Youth’s Scott Temple fourth with 1,595pts.
The under-20 women’s championship was won by Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis with a total of 3,325pts. City of York’s Leah Attack finished in second place with 2,125pts.
Stockport’s Cory Beechall claimed victory in the under-15 boys competition while Katie Robinson (City of Sheffield) scored 3,285pts to defeat City of York’s Rebecca Lister (3,078pts) to win the senior women’s contest.
*Thanks go to championship secretary Keith Wilshire and the technical officials for making it another highly-successful championship. And to all the supporters who encouraged all the athletes throughout the day.
ONCE again a small number of North East athletes travelled to Glasgow’s Emirates Arena for the Scottish Under-13/15/20 Indoor Championships returning on a high after trawling in four gold, three silver and four bronze medals.
And for one particular athlete she will not want the season to end for she thrilled the Scottish spectators on the opening day of the championships by breaking two National records on her way to setting new British records!
North Shields Poly’s Emily Bond set the standard in the first heat of the under-13 hurdles, the opening event on the programme, and in doing so erased the existing 9.65sec from the record books by producing, not only a new pb of 9.19s, but also setting a new British record on the way. In the hurdles she was joined by Blyth Running Club’s Millie Wilkinson who went into the fixture with a pb of 9.92s. However, after progressing through the heats and semi-finals she produced the run of her life to finish in second place behind Emily after setting her best-ever figures of 9.73s.
That wasn’t the end of the action for the duo especially Emily who had her eyes on two other events practically running side-by-side during an action-packed day. First up was the long jump and after breaking the Scottish record of 4:85 metres in the opening round with a mark in the sand at 4:94m she leapt even further in round four to 5:03m, another British record to cherish. Blyth's Sadie Parker was inspired by Emily’s winning leap which urged her on to joining her on the podium after finishing in third place with a new indoor pb of 4:42m. Then it was on to the high jump for Emily and though it had already been a tiring day she still managed to clear a new pb height of 1:55m, a height just one centimetre shy of the existing Scottish record.
Three events, three gold medals, not a lot more can be asked for an extremely talented local athlete who now tops this year’s UK rankings at 60m hurdles, long jump and high jump.
Millie Wilkinson was back on the starting blocks an hour or so later to contest the 60 metres where she was joined by fellow Blyth athletes Abigail Huntley and Maya Turner and all three progressed through to the semi-finals. However, both Millie and Maya managed to make it to the final with Abigail just missing out. And the pair were just pipped for the gold medal with Millie finishing in second place -another silver medal – and Maya third ensuring the required celebration for the Blyth outfit.
In the under-20 60m hurdles, Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis finished in second place in her heat (9.31s) and then produced a new life-time best of 9.00s in the final where she finished in third position.
Not long later a Gateshead athlete was topping the podium. Twelve months ago the Tyneside club’s Jazmine Moss won the under-20 200m in 24.74s, however, this time round Rachel Bennett, in her first outing over the distance this winter, claimed the title with a new pb of 24.25s, a time which slots her into third place in the UK rankings.
In the under-13 200m Blyth’s Sadie Parker progressed to the final after setting a new indoor pb of 28.64s in the earlier rounds. However, she couldn’t quite repeat that performance in the final and finished in sixth position in 29.27s.
Tynedale's Will Ainsley claimed a maiden Scottish National medal, crossing the line in his U13 60m hurdles race with huge smile on his face to take the silver medal.
In the under-20 shot put competition, Gateshead’s Lucy Giles produced a huge pb of 11:48m to claim the silver medal with team-mate Philippa Ellis finishing in fourth place while Alnwick’s Leila Thompson also made it onto the podium in third spot in the under-13 shot contest with a put of 9:12m.
Gateshead’s Hannah Buckton and Lexie Ellis were the only athletes to make it onto the podium on the second day, Hannah progressing through to the final of the under-15 60m hurdles where she finished in third position in a time of 9.52s while team-mate Lexi produced a new life-time best of 10:88m to finish runner-up in the under-15 shot put contest.
There were fourth place finishers for Tynedale’s Lewis Davison in the under-15 200m where he returned 25.41s after clocking 25.05 in the semis; Megan Costello was fourth in the under-20 60m (7.92s); and fellow Gateshead athlete, Amelia Sherlock was fourth in the under-15 60m in 8.17s. Darlington’s Kate Williams joined Amelia in the final and finished in eighth place in 8.44s though she recorded 8.29s in the heats. Matthew Lawson (Gateshead) made it through to the final of the under-20 60m where he finished seventh but was rewarded with a new pb of 7.17s.
AROUND the time Calum Johnson was crossing the line after ploughing through the mud to claim the National Cross-Country title fellow Gateshead athlete Joy Eze was also celebrating after winning the under-17 60 metres contest at the English Indoor Championships in the warmth of the English Institute of Sport Arena in Sheffield.
Joy, the reigning Scottish and Northern 60m champion, had something to prove after being disqualified in the same final last year and she showed that she had no intention of that happening again. Joy glided through her heat as the fastest qualifier (7.69secs) but had to survive two false starts by her rivals to win a nervy semi-final in commanding style (7.59secs).
Racing against the top-five ranked performers in the UK in the final, including the UK and European leading performer, Joy produced a superb performance to maintain her 100% indoor record and in doing so lifting her first National Indoor title in a new personal best of 7.51secs.
Joy, of course, wasn’t the only athlete from the region to finish top of the podium with no less than another three claiming victory over the two-day championships.
Despite the lack of indoor facilities in the North East two of the region’s middle distance runners left the Yorkshire venue with gold medals round their necks. Houghton’s Henry Johnson, who mixes running on the boards with outings over the country, won a slow, tactical under-17 men’s 1500 metres in 3min 57.94s to add to his runners-up silver medal from the Northern Championships held the previous month at the same venue.
The under-17 women’s 1500 metres was also a straight final and it proved benefical to Chester-le-Street’s Lucy Scothern who was having her first indoor outing in three years. Once again it was a tactical affair but Lucy managed to win comfortably by over a second in 4:50.86, a time well outside her pb of 4:35.87.
The final athlete from the region to top the podium was Gateshead’s Jack Halpin, the current Northern and North Eastern Counties champion. Jack left it late to take control of a hotly-contested shot put event. Behind his season’s best efforts, Jack kept all his supporters on tenter-hooks until the fifth round, where he re-established his dominance, heaving the shot beyond 15 metres to take the lead. He then settled everyone’s nerves in the final round when he powered ahead of the early leader with a put of 15.74m to consolidate his gold medal winning performance and improve on his silver medal from last year.
While it’s always nice to report on athletes from the region claiming national titles it’s great to see so many gaining experience at the highest level away from home.
In the under-15 girls 60mHannah Buckton (Gateshead) in her first year in the age group rubbed shoulders with the best in the UK and performed well running 8.42secs in her heat while in the same age group the North Eastern and Northern Champion, Joel Brown King also of Gateshead, looked at home at this level finishing second in his heat in 7.48secs but couldn’t quite repeat that performance in the semi-finals in clocking 7.62secs.
In the under-17 women’s 60m Darcey Garbutt, a Scottish and Northern finalist, flew to a new personal best in the heats clocking 7.90secs. This proved her best of the day as she went out of the competition in a very high-quality semi-final. Darcey also lined up in the 200m and was rewarded with a time of 26.28secs while North Shields Poly’s Stella Perrett clocked 26.32secs in her heat of the 200m. Ashley Watson (Hartlepool Youth) gained much valuable experience when recording 8.32secs in the heats.
Matthew Lumb, the Scottish and North Eastern under-17 60m qualified comfortably from the heats after recording 7.24secs. Unfortunately the Gateshead athlete picked up a hamstring injury in the semi-final which resulted in him missing out on a place in the final.
In the under-20 women’s 60m Gateshead’s newest recruit, North Eastern champion, Rachel Bennet, achieved a new lifetime best of 7.6 secs in qualifying for the final where she achieved a very creditable fifth place. North Shields Poly also had two under-20s in the 60m with Lucy Errington and Jessica Lively going out in the heats despite clocking 8.26secs and 8.24secs respectively.
Gateshead had four athletes contesting hurdle events with Hannah Buckton lining up in the under-15 girls race where she reached the semi-final after recording 9.82secs.
In the under-17 men’s championship Arron Lillistone, the North East champion and record holder, locked horns with the country’s best hurdlers and can be delighted with his efforts. He battled hard to run near his personal best of 8.36secs in making it through to the semi-final where a 8.40 secs performance ensured a final appearance. Aaron rose to the challenge and finished in sixth place
In the women’s under-17 event Philippa Ellis, the North East Champion, unfortunately bowed out of the heats after catching the first flight after an excellent start. Her Indoor campaign continues with the Multi-events National Championships in March. However, both Amy Lott (Morpeth) and Darlington’s Charlotte Rutter both made the final, Amy just missing out on a podium spot finishing in fifth place in 8.86secs after posting a pb of 8.80secs in the heats while Charlotte crossed the line in eighth position recording 8.93secs, a fraction slower than her new pb of 8.85secs she ran in the semi-final. Tynedale’s Kate Smith just failed to join them after finishing fourth place in the semi-final in 8.90secs.
Oliver Lewis, the North Eastern under-20 champion, acquitted himself well achieving a season’s best of 8.90sec in a quality heat. He will now turn his attention to the Scottish Championships next month.
Former Morpeth athlete Andrew Knight, now based in the south finished runner-up in the under-20 men’s shot put, his best effort being 17:66 metres.
ONCE again records fell like nine-pins at the annual North Eastern Counties AA Indoor Championships held at Gateshead College Academy of Sport which incorporated the Cumbria and NE Masters AA Championships.
The two-day competition opened with field events on the first day followed by the track programme on day two with a good number of coaches, family and friends in attendance giving competitors huge support.
Competition was keen throughout the day and it was newly-crowned Scottish Indoor Pentathlon champion Emily Bond who helped lighten up proceedings, the North Shields Poly athlete going on to set two new championship best performances.
It was in the long jump that the youngster really excelled where, not only did she erase the old figures of 4:53m set in 2006 by Jessica Read (Gateshead) but Emily, who sat at the top of the UK under-13 rankings, extended her advantage by adding another eight centimetres to her portfolio with a superb 4:86m. Such was the high standard of the event Blyth’s Hannah Wilson also bettered the old figures to claim the silver medal with a new pb of 4:64m.
Emily was back onto the top of the podium a second time when she cleared 1:46m to win the high jump and while not a new pb it was good enough to erase the old figures of 1:40m set by Jarrow and Hebburn pair Emma Johnson and Amelia Bateman and Charlotte Patterson of Middlesbrough and Cleveland. Blyth Running Club had five competitors in the event with Millie Wilkinson, Hannah Wilson and Abigail Huntly all clearing 1:36m in the fight for the minor medals with Millie taking silver and Hannah & Abigail joint bronze on the count back system.
In the same age group Alnwick’s Leila Thompson was also in record-breaking form in the shot put competition. Leila went into the contest ranked number three in the country but she improved into second place after setting a new pb and championship best of 9:47m which bettered Middlesbrough’s Grace McDonald’s 2017 figures by 38 centimetres!
The fourth championship-best of the day came in the under-20 women’s long jump when Tynedale’s Louise Smith set a new pb of 5:35m which eclipsed Middlesbrough’s Falonne Mukendi’s 2014 figures of 5:25m. Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis equalled the old record to claim the silver medal.
As well as the record-breakers there were a number of close shaves. in the under-17 men’s long jump Blyth’s Alfie Ward came within four centimetres of equalling Middlesbrough’s Jack Crosby’s 2011 figures of 6:45m while Gateshead’s Jack Halpin, who heads the British under-17 shot put rankings, was five centimetres shy of Morpeth’s Andrew Knight’s 2018 distance of 15:33m.
Of course, it wasn’t only the record breakers who enjoyed the occasion for many of those competing produced lifetime bests.
Among the Masters who set new records were Julie Gittens (Leeds City) in the triple jump; Daniel Upton ((Richmond and Zetland) in the shot put; and a first for Jesmond Joggers’ Paul Waddell in the long jump.
If the opening day was a good one then the second session was even better with six new championship best performances showing, despite the lack of top-flight facilities, that club coaches in the region are making the best of a bad job in getting their charges to perform at a high level.
The programme went like clockwork thanks to Championship secretary Keith Willshire and his team of dedicated volunteer technical officials and it wasn’t long before the announcer stated that the first record of the day had been achieved. However, it didn’t come as a real surprise to the spectators lined four deep on the Academy of Sport’s balcony for, in the third event of the day, the under-13 girls heats of the 60m hurdles, it was declared that Emily Bond, yes, that North Shields Poly athlete, had broken the 2017 record of 9.93s set by Basingstoke’s Iona Irvine in recording 9.36s, a time which sees her not only proudly heading the UK rankings this year but consolidates her at the top of the UK overall listings since statistics were brought in. That was Emily’s third new championship best performances of the weekend and it came as no surprise after receiving her medal that she said of the three the hurdles record gave her most pleasure.
Following on from the hurdles heats came the finals and while Emily couldn’t quite repeat her performance from the heats she still recorded a winning time of 9.56s. However, there were another two hurdles records to fall in an amazing morning. In the under-13 boys event victory went to Blyth’s Luke Pichler in 10.26s a time which dipped under the 2018 record of Giffnock North’s Daniel Martin of 10.41s. Luke’s time, which was a new pb, slots him into fourth place in the current UK listings.
The next hurdles record to fall came in the under-17 men’s event which saw Gateshead’s Aaron Lillistone record 8.41s, a time which dipped under his club’s Jason Nicholson’s 2015 figures of 8.43s. Jason, of course went on to gain numerous junior international honours so perhaps Aaron could well follow in his footsteps footsteps.
After the hurdle events – the barriers quickly set aside by the officials – it was the turn of the speed merchants to take centre stage and many of finals the had spectators on their toes such was the high standard.
Anyone connected with the Blyth Running Club could never have dreamt in a million years that they would have four of the six finalists lining up in the under-13 girls final and the backroom team were aptly rewarded when three of those swept the board for a clean sweep of medals. Victory went to Millie Wilkinson, the Northern champion, in 8.23s, a time which dipped under the figures of 8.30s set in 2015 by Gateshead’s Charlotte Richardson. Hannah Wilson claimed the runner-up award with a new pb of 8.32s with Maya Turner completing the one-two-three in 8.40s. Millie’s new pb moves her up into fourth place in this year’s Po10 rankings.
While it is rare for one club to trawl in all three medals in a championship competition, it happened again when it was the turn of Gateshead supporters to celebrate after their under-20 women claimed all three podium places. Victory went to new recruit Rachel Bennett in 7.74s, a time which not only is a new pb but also bettered Rachel Highfield’s (Gateshead) 2013 figures of 7.78s. Such was the high standard of the event, Megan Costello, who finished runner-up, equalled the old record while third-placed Erin Louise Anderson was just outside in 8.72s. Rachel’s latest success adds to the gold medals she received after winning the under-17 and under-15 championships!
The final record to fall on a truly remarkable day came in the under-13 boys 60m which saw victory go to Gateshead’s Matthew Inman in a time of 8.24s, a time which scraped four-hundredths-of-a-second off Middlesbrough Mandale’s Hedley Wordsworth’s 2014 record of 8.28s. Matthew’s winning time was inside his previous best of 8.41s which he recorded when finishing in third place in the recent Northern Indoor Championships in Sheffield.
While it’s not all about breaking records for many setting a new pb gives as much pleasure and for one athlete that certainly was the case. It’s not often one has penned a few words on a sprinter from Sunderland Harriers which, over the years, has been noted for its endurance running feats. However, in the under-20 men’s 60m a new name came to the fore when Jordan Beavers crossed the line in first place in a new life-time best of 7.09s, which, after just a couple of years in the sport, is a superb achievement which shows what can be achieved with hard work and dedication and faith in your coach.
Fastest sprinter on view was Gateshead’s Scott Hall who posted 6.96s in the senior men’s 60m heats. However, the Tynesider was a bit keen as he lined-up in the final and set off too quickly and was subsequently disqualified much to the disappointment of the spectators.
There were many other winners on the day, unfortunately too many to mention, but hopefully many of those will not only be champions but go onto much greater things.
*Thanks go to everyone who had an input, however large or small, in making the North East Indoor Championships a success once again. Appreciation also to the many spectators who came along and supported the event.
AFTER deliberating for nearly three hours, the county selectors have named strong squads for the UK CAU Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships on Saturday, March 4 which return to Pretswold Hall, Loughborough once again.
Twelve months ago the North East had two individual champions in Wallsend’s Sam Charlton and Darlington’s India Pentland and both will don a county vest once again albeit in an older age group.
As well as celebrating two gold medallists the region also had a silver medallist- Rory Leonard (Morpeth) – and a bronze medallist in Middlesbrough Mandale’s Josh Cowperthwaite.
However, while it’s not all about making it onto the podium, it will be great experience for many who will be making their county debut.
Team managers’ Stewy Bell and Lynn Cooper are cautiously optimistic on how their charges will perform on the big stage though many of the senior athletes have experienced the Inter-Counties on numerous occasions.
Bell, a NE representative many times, had this to say after the teams were finalised: ‘’It’s a great honour to represent your county in, what I believe is the major cross-country championships of the year. While we have a strong senior men’s squad with Carl Avery and Calum Johnson, the NE and Northern champions respectively, leading the way it’s to the younger age groups who I think have the best chance of success.’’
Women’s team manager Cooper was equally excited about the prospect of seeing the region’s top youngsters perform against the best athletes in the country. ‘Enjoying the experience is vitally important which, of course, could be the stepping stone for greater things in the future,’’ said Lynn. ‘’We have some very talented young athletes in the North East and lining up in the Inter-Counties is invaluable if they want to go on and achieve greater things.’’
The senior women’s team has a good chance of also making it onto the podium with seasoned international Kate Avery (Shildon) currently heading the UK Cross Challenge and she will be joined in the team by NE champion Sonia Samuels (Sale) and former Elswick athlete Philippa Williams who now competes for Sheffield AC and will be making her NE senior debut.
*Would-be spectators are more than welcome to make the trip and support the teams. There is an overnight stay leaving Newcastle at 5pm on Friday while a second coach sets of from Newcastle on Saturday morning at 6.30am. Both coaches have pick-up points on the A1 corridor. The price of travel is £10. Anyone interested please get in touch with either Stewy Bell or Lynn Cooper.
HOW THE NORTH EASTERN COUNTIES WILL LINE UP
SENIOR WOMEN (10,000m): Sonia Samuels (Sale), Philippa Stone (Midd/Mand), Catirina McDonald (Morp), Kate Avery (Shild), Philippa Williams (Sheff), Danielle Smythe (Heat), Georgia Campbell (J&H), Amy Fuller (Elsw) and Hannah Plaschkes (Darl).
JUNIOR WOMEN (6,000m): Chloe Wellings and Amy Baker (both Gates), Eva Hardie (Hough), Laura Havis (Midd/Mand), India Pentland (Darl), Eve Sothern (Birt), Abigail Anderson (Birt) and Eve Quinn (Sund).
UNDER-17 WOMEN (5,000m): Emily Chong (Ch-le-St), Ines Curran (Gates), Tess Graham (Birt), Anna Pigford and Amy Leonard (both Hough), Holly Peck (Morp), Cecelia Reid (Blay) and Kate Salthouse (Tyned).
UNDER-15 GIRLS (4,000m): Katie Francis (Birt), Elle van der Mere and Holly Waugh (both NSP), Millie Breese (Alnw), Lucy Scothern (Ch-le-St), Erin Keeler-Clarke (Hough), Abigail Leiper (Morp) and Marissa Boon (Darl).
UNDER-13 GIRLS (3,000m): Zara Jones (Darl), Sophie Quinn (BillMHse), Eden Creasey (Midd/Mand), Charlotte Dillon (DurC), Poppy Old and Poppy Wilde (both Elsw), Annabel Milburn (Gate) and Annie Hutchinson (Gosf).
SENIOR MEN (10,000m): Carl Avery and Alex Brown (both Morp), Calum Johnson (Gate), Jack Willis and Greg Jayasurya (both M&C), Carl Smith (TyneBr), Cameron Allan (Hough), David Green (NSP) and Kieran Walker (Midd/Mand).
JUNIOR MEN (8,000m): Charlie McMillan (Gate), Sam Charlton (Walls), Daniel Dixon, Daniel Melling and Ross Charlton (all Morp), Josh Cowperthwaite, Jake Creasey and Daniel Currie (all Mid/Mand).
UNDER-17 MEN (6,000m): Archie Lowe (Midd/Mand), Henry Johnson and Will Bellamy (Both Hough), Rowan Bennett and Dylan Gooding (both Morp), Ethan McGlen and Charlie Daley (both Gate) and John Russell (Darl).
UNDER-15 BOYS (4,000m): Chris Perkins (Birt), Josh Blevins, Oliver Douglas and Zak Old (all NSP), Joe Dixon and Ryan Davies (both Morp), Will Collinson (Blay) and Tom Slane (BhillBnds).
UNDER-13 BOYS (3,000m): Alex Bowyer and Harry Lyons (both Darl), Theo Dragio and MatthewDas (both Gate), Zac Brannon (NSP), Matthew Downs (NewMsk), Ethan Marron (Midd/Mand) and Oliver Tomlinson (Morp).
FOLLOWING on from a hugely successful Scottish Indoor Championships were North East athletes returned triumphant after trawling a large number of medals it was the turn of the multi-eventers to take their chance in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
Just five of the region’s youngsters made the trip but, once again, there was plenty to celebrate as two of those competitors came out on top in their respective pentathlon.
And it was something special in the under-13 contest where North Shields Poly’s Emily Bond not only scooped up the gold medal but her total of 2,968 points is a UK All-time record for an indoor pentathlon in her age group!
That didn’t really come as a surprise however, for Emily was in sparkling form throughout the day as she set new pbs in all five disciplines with two of those, the 60m hurdles and high jump, moving her to lead this year’s Individual rankings, with her 60m hurdles time also taking to the top of the all-time rankings.
Emily’s excellent day’s workload was: 800m, 2:33.84; 60m hurdles, 9.43s; HJ, 1:50m; LJ, 4:78m; Shot, 7:68m.
The North East’s second gold medal came in the under-15 girls section which saw four of the region’s athletes taking part and, just like the younger age group the newly-crowned champion, Gateshead’s Georgina Mabbutt produced life-time bests in all five disciplines.
In the 800m, Georgina posted a time of 2:29.66; she recorded 9.43s in the 60m hurdles; a clearance of 1:49m gave her good points in the high jump as did her long jump effort of 4:97m and her shot put mark of 9:49m which gave her a total of 3,176 points, over 150 points clear of her nearest rival.
Rebecca Harrison can really claim to be an all-round athlete for, before embarking on her pentathlon journey, the South Shields Harrier had finished 128th in the Northern Cross-country Championships in Bedale.
Rebecca showed no signs of wariness as she finished in 11th place (2,238pts) while setting four new pbs in the 800m (2:40.81); 60m hurdles (10.48s); long jump (4:07m); and the shot (6:08m).
Blaydon’s Jessica Doyle finished on 2,153 points for 13th place after setting a new pb of 2:15.3 in the 800m while Jarrow and Hebburn’s Grace Arthur scored 1,979 points for 21st place despite failing to finish in the 800m. Grace did, however, have some compensation for she set a new pb of 10:36s in the hurdles phase.
The North East had two representatives in the under-17 women’s pentathlon, Darlington’s Charlotte Rutter and Lily Cassidy of Gateshead and it was Charlotte who came closest to making it onto the podium where she had to settle for fourth place after accumulating 3,059 points just nine points adrift of the bronze medal winner. Charlotte did have the consolation of setting two new pbs, a clearance of 1:51m in the high jump and a put of 5:09m in the shot phase.
Lily, meanwhile, finished in 20th position after totalling 2,213 points and she was rewarded with a 60m hurdles pb of 10:49s.
Once again superb results for the region’s youngsters and their coaches which augurs well for the future.
THE region’s youngest competitors – under-13 and under-15 – were in superb form at the Northern Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield.
No less than 10 medals – six gold, four silver and one bronze – were plundered together with a host of athletes setting new pbs, making it a great day, not just for the athletes but for the many parents and coaches who travelled to the Yorkshire venue.
Pride of place has to be the under-13 girls 60m final where Blyth Running Club supporters celebrated wildly when they saw their athletes’ race to a superb one-two finish. Victory went to Millie Wilkinson in 8.33s – she had posted a pb even quicker of 8.31s in the heats – with team-mate Maya Ellen Turner claiming the silver medal in 8.38s after running a new pb of 8.35s in the heats. Just to show the all-round strength of sprinting in this age group, North Shields Poly’s Millie Baker just failed to take her place in the final after clocking a pb of 9.02s in the early rounds. Later in the day Millie had another reason to be excited when producing a season’s best of 4:93m in the shot put.
Still with the under-13 girls, it was another top-of-the-podium finish for a Blyth athlete in the 200m. Once again the East Northumberland club had two athletes in the final and it was Hannah Wilson who claimed the gold medal after posting a new life-time best of 27.05s. Team-mate Sadie Parker finished in fifth place in 29.28s, in what was her slowest time of the three rounds having posted 28.83s in the heats and 28.91s in the semi-final. Abigail Huntly recorded a PB in her heat, and also contested the high jump where the Blyth athlete finished in fifth place with a season’s best clearance of 1:30m. In the shot put competition Alnwick’s Leila Thompson missed out on the gold medal by a matter of just four centimetres after posting a new pb of 9:35m, victory going to Wirral AC’s Zara Ogedengbe.
The North East had only one medallist in the under-15 girls section with Gateshead’s Lexi Ellis finishing runner-up in the shot put contest with a put of 9:93m after having posted a season’s best of 10:03m in the qualifying rounds.
Despite picking up the solitary medal there were numerous pbs on show. In the 60m, Tynedale’s Katherine Bell finished sixth in the final in a time of 8.40s after recording a pb of 8.29s in the earlier rounds and there were pbs for Gateshead’s Fawzie Obeyele (8.74s) and Durham City’s Lucy Aston (8.80s). Katherine also lined up in the long jump where she put a mark in the sand at a season’s best 4:27m.
In the 200m Darlington’s Kate Williams just missed out for a run in the final after posting a season’s best of 27.26s. There were new pbs for Gateshead trio Fawzie Obeyele (30.37s), Madeleine Liddell (27.63s) and Charlie Watson (30.09s).
In the 800m Chester-le-Street’s Ella Jones ran a pb of 2:37.0 while there was a season’s best for Katie Joslyn (North Shields Poly) of 2:33.33. Hannah Buckton (Gateshead) made it through to the final of the 60m hurdles where she finished in sixth place in a new pb of 9.85s.
In the under-15 boys section, there were two top podium places for Gateshead athletes with Joel Brown-King claiming the 60m sprint gold medal and Thomas Mann doing likewise in the shot competition. Joel posted a new pb of 7.44s while Thomas’s winning put of 10:80m was a season’s best. Birtley’s Fynn Errington also contested the shot finishing in sixth place with a. season’s best of 8:25m.
In the 800m, Gosforth’s Ethan Bond finished fourth in the final in 2:10.83 while Blyth’s Connor Taggart posted a pb of 2:21.34 in the heats. Connor set a second pb in the long jump with a leap of 4:39m. Also, in the long jump Connor’s team-mates Joshua Crisp and Chris Bradley-Njai both had season’s bests of 4:84m and 2:43m respectively.
In the under-13 boys section only two competitors took their place in the shot put contest and they were both from the North East! The gold medal was won by Birtley’s Joe Perkins with a new pb put of 8:86m while Blyth’s Luke Pilcher posted a season’s best of 7:47m to claim the silver medal. It was a busy day for the Blyth athlete who also set a new pb of 28.94s for fourth place in the 200m after finishing seventh in the long jump with a leap of 4:21m.
The region’s final medal came in the 60 metres when Gateshead’s Matthew Inman claimed a superb third place in a time of 8.41s.
*The majority of the young athletes who competed in Sheffield will be in action at the North East Counties Championships at Gateshead on Saturday/Sunday, February 15/16 with spectators welcome.
WHILE the region’s endurance runners were plundering the spoils at the Northern Cross-Country Championships in North Yorkshire numerous North East athletes ventured in the opposite direction to contest the Scottish Under-17/Senior Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow and the results were equally impressive.
A total of five gold medals, three silver and a bronze winged their back across the Border and for those who missed out on a podium place personal bests we’re the order for many.
Morpeth’s Amy Lott set the scene for a superb days sport by storming home to win the under-17 60m hurdles in a new life-time best of 8.81secs, a time which places her third in the Po10 rankings. Amy had negotiated a heat and semi-final as did Kate Smith and the Tynedale athlete was equally impressive by making it onto the podium in bronze medal position with a new pb time of 8.8s.
After the Northumberland club’s success it was the turn of Gateshead athletes to top the podium and those parents and coaches who made the trip had plenty to celebrate as four gold medals were the order of the day!
In the under-17 60 metres Joy Eze was the defending champion and record holder and not only did she repeat last year’s victory she went on to clock a new championship best time of 7.74s which equalled her best-ever figures.
Such is the strength of sprinting at Gateshead at this age group at the moment two other athletes, Susan Folorunso and Darcey Garbutt, both made it through to the final, Susan finishing just outside the medals in fourth place (7.83s) while Darcey clocked 7.94s for sixth.
In the same age group Morpeth’s Alice Geoghegan finished in fifth place in the 300m final recording 42.74s while Gateshead’s Evie Harrison also finished fifth in the 200m final clocking a season’s best of 26.85s.
The under-17 men’s 60 metres saw Gateshead’s Matthew Lumb top the podium with pb figures of 7.15s after recording 7.26s and 7.23s in the heats and semi-final respectfully. Chester-le-Street’s Luke Russell also made it through to the final but did not start.
There was another gold medal run to savour for Gateshead when, in the same age category Daniel Lennie stormed home to win the 200 metres gold medal recording a new pb of 22.91s, a time which moves him up to eighth in this year’s indoor rankings.
Aaron Lillistone just failed in his attempt to top the podium in the 60m hurdles, however his clocking of 8.35s for second place was not only a new pb but moves the Tynesider into the rankings top 10.
Competing in the senior women’s 200 metres Gateshead junior international Jazmine Moss stamped her authority on the event leaving her rivals chasing the minor honours. Jazmine’s winning time of 24.21s, a time which has the sprinter ranked number three.
Also in the senior women’s section Jarrow and Hebburn’s Nicola Caygill set a new pb of 7.63s in the 60 metres to finish in silver medal position.
In the senior men’s 60 metres Gateshead’s Scott Hall won his heat (7.02s) and semi-final (6.90s) but did not start in the final.
Amongst the field events Gateshead’s Sophie Littlemore finished in second place in the senior women’s shot put competition (12:89m) while club colleague Fraser Wright competing in the senior men’s event missed out by just one centimetre in making it onto the podium however his 12:89m put for fourth place was a new pb.
DESPITE numbers being down on previous years, competition was of the highest standard with athletes from outside the region making up over half the entries for the North Eastern Counties Championships and Open Pentathlon meeting held once again at a sunny Monkton Stadium.
However, while the junior age groups were well attended there was only one entry for the senior section which hugely disappointed the hard work put in by the organisers.
At the end of the day there was only one new Championship and Meeting record set and that came in the under-17 women's competition as Scottish raider Nicole Proudfoot totalled 3,321 points which eclipsed the 3,284 points accumulated by Gateshead's Amelia Bateman in 2016.
Nicole, of Annan and District AC, who set an under-15 pentathlon record the last time she was in Jarrow, was just returning from injury and used the Tyneside fixture in an attempt to earn Scotland Schools' selection and her endeavours may not be in vain for she produced new lifetime bests in both the long jump and shot put sections and season's bests in the 80 metres hurdles and 800m.
Hartlepool Youth's Ashley Watson finished runner-up behind Nicole on 2,680pts which earned her the NE title which wasn't surprising as she set new pbs in the high jump, 80m hurdles, shot put and 800m. Southport Waterloo's Stephanie Robertson claimed third place in the Open contest with 2656pts while North Shields Poly duo Quisha Graham and Evie Perrett completed the NE medalists with 2,109pts and 1,932pts respectively, Quisha producing new pbs in the hurdles and shot put while Evie celebrated with four pbs, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800m.
There was only one entry in the under-17 men's competition with Alnwick's Oliver Telfer claiming victory. Oliver did have the satisfaction of setting four new pbs - long jump, javelin, 200m and discus!
There were 18 entries in the in the under-15 girls contest and victory went to Wiltshire athlete Amy Warre of Swindon Harriers who totalled 2,735pts with New Marske's Molly thrower pushing her all the way to finish runner-up and claim the NE crown after amassing 2,603pts. Molly set set pbs in the 75m hurdles, shot putt and 800m and season's bests in both the long jump and high jump. Bury AC's Jena Dickinson finished in third place on 2,507pts.
The NE Counties silver medal went to North Shields Poly's Anna Fitzpatrick, who totalled 2,455pts after finishing in fourth place overall and setting pbs in the long jump, hurdles, shot put and 800m. Jarrow and Hebburn's Lexi Brown finished one place behind Anna (2,240pts) to claim the bronze award.
In the under-15 boys contest Blyth's Stewart Besford was the overall winner totalling 2,270pts finishing ahead of Joseph Edwards (City of York) who had 1,724pts and Scott Temple (Hartlepool Youth) who picked up the NE silver medal after setting new pbs in the 80m hurdles, high jump and 800m, to total 1,644pts. Alnwick's Finlay Telfer completed the NE podium places with 1,212pts, setting new pbs in the hurdles, long jump and high jump along the way.
The biggest line-up of the day came in the under-13 girls event with 23 competitors taking their place and it was a huge success for the City of York club with Kathryn Claque (2,542pts) and Emma Pounder (2,534pts) battling it out throughout the day to eventually fill the top two placings. Blyth's Hannah Wilson, with new high jump and long jump pbs, did her best to split the visiting duo but had to be content with third place overall at the end of the day. However, Hannah did top the podium for the NE Counties presentation where she was joined by New Marske's Georgia Richmond who totalled 2,196pts after setting new pbs in all five phases - the shot put, 70m hurdles, high jump, long jump and 800m! The NE Counties bronze medal went to North Shields Poly's Emily Bond whose total of 2,129pts would certainly have been bettered if she hadn't failed to record a mark in the shot put, the opening event of the day. Despite that setback the Poly youngster battled on setting new pbs in the hurdles and 800m to finish in sixth place overall, just behind Georgia.
Blyth Running Club celebrated their second champion of the day when Luke Pichler won the under-15 boys event with 1,542pts relegating Southport Waterloo's Adam Byrne into second place (1,424pts) and Hallamshire's Harry Stevens, just one point behind Adam, who finished in third place. Darlington's Ashton Harrison was second in the NE championship (1,129pts).
There were no entries in either the under-20 men, under-20 women or senior women's event but Heaton's Jordan Cairns was the sole senior man on view with his 1,500m time of 4:52.86 earning 602pts, which equated to around a third of his total of 1,837pts for the five events.
Once again a huge thanks to all the technical officials and stadium ground staff who kept the meeting moving smoothly which was well commented on by many of the visiting athletes and supporters.
MORPETH Harriers came within 12 seconds of making it onto the Northern Athletics Start Fitness-supported Six-Stage Road Relay Championships podium which was held for the fourth time around the perimeter Sport City's Etihad Stadium, the home of Premiership champions Manchester City.
The Northumbrians, who last won the title in 2006 in Hartlepool, the last time the championships were held in the North East, had to be content with fourth place this time round behind Leeds City and Greater Manchester clubs Sale and Salford.
Sam Hancox opted to contest the first stage for Morpeth and handed over to Adam Pratt in 13th position. The North East Counties steeplechase champion slipped back to 18th on leg two after clocking 21:48 before passing onto to George Lowry who managed to move through into eighth place after recording 20min 30sec, the same time as Hancox. Junior World Championship 5,000m representative Rory Leonard took over and improved another four places (20:36) as the gaps ahead widened especially behind Leeds City whose Philip Sesemann, on the same stage as Leonard, stormed round the 6.8k course in the fastest tome of the day of 19:18. Alex Brown took over for Morpeth on the penultimate stage and though he consolidated fourth place with 20:20 it looked as though a top-three place was out of the question.
However, that didn't deter Carl Avery from having a go for he cut back the deficit with every stride which ultimately produced the fastest stage time of 19:27 - third fastest overall - and while it was much quicker than the Leeds, Sale and Salford last runners the finish line came just to soon.
With the event a qualifying competition for the National Road Relay Championships, a number of other North East clubs lined up in the North West. After Morpeth's gallant efforts, Tyne Bridge were the next local club to close in and they just missed out on a top-10 finish. Tom Charlton, with a superb 20:36 on stage two was the club's leading light as they eventually finished in 11th place. Gateshead, champions on numerous occasions in the 70s and 80s, were next to finish in 17th place with Conrad Franks, despite a short recovery after his excellent GNR, the Tynesiders' stand-out performer as he handed over in sixth position (20:09) at the first changeover.
Morpeth's second string also qualified for the 'National' after finishing in 23rd place with Philip Winkler posting the sextet's fastest time of 21:41. Tyne Bridge B team, with Connor Braithwaite their quickest (22:12), finished in 41st place; Heaton, with James McKenzie (21:43) just edging out team-mate James Meader (21:46) for their fastest time, finished 50th while Durham City - Rob Everson (22:42) their best - finished 57th; Gateshead B - Jonathan Malley (23:19) their best - were 71st; Blackhill Bounders, with Jordan Bell recording 21:01, finished 83rd while Heaton's B team just finished outside the top 100 (102nd) with Thomas Bell their best with 26:12. There were 107 teams who closed in.
The women's four-stage championship was over a slightly shorter course of 6k and it was a Yorkshire one-two with victory going to Rotherham by a margin of 10 seconds over arch rivals Leeds City as title holders Lincoln Wellington completed the podium places just three seconds adrift of the runners-up.
While it wasn't a qualifying contest for the National, the Tyne Bridge quartet of Mairi Clancy (24:58), Rebecca Parkin (25:51), Kathryn Stevenson (24:22) and Lysanne Jurriansen (27:08) finished a creditable 27th out of the 69 teams who finished.
Heaton, who had Danielle Smythe in sixth place at the completion of stage one after recording the ninth fastest overall time of the day of 21:45, finished in 35th place with Deborah Hicks (27:42), Nina Cameron (25:48) and Lisa Boyd (29:48) backing up Smythe.
YOUNG ATHLETES CHAMPIONSHIPS
WHILE there were no senior awards on the day, the region's youngsters who made the trip to Manchester made it all worthwhile with a number travelling home with medals round their necks.
Pride of place goes to Houghton Harriers who came out on top in the under-17 men's 3x3.7k contest. Henry Johnson gave Houghton a superb base by passing over to Sam Gibson in second place after recording 11min 39sec, a time which at the end of the day was the third fastest overall. Sam (12:14) dropped back one place on leg two before passing over to Will Bellamy. Will took over two seconds adrift of Rotherham and 13 seconds behind leaders Salford. However, it quickly all changed as Will, who has been dogged with injury during the summer, immediately set about cutting back the deficit, He quickly managed to overhaul the Rotherham athlete but it wasn't until the final kilometre that he finally got his nose in front to bring Houghton home in first place 10 seconds clear of Salford and it wasn't surprising that his 11:23 was the fastest time of the day. Making it a good age-group for the region Darlington lifted the bronze medals thanks to the efforts of Daniel Boyer (11:52), John Russell (12:04) and Adam Russell who brought Darlo into a medal position for the first time with 11:48.
Houghton's B team of Chris Coulson, Luke Pye and Izaak Taylor, finished 27th while the Blackhill Bounders trio of Duncan Hughes, Etham Richards and Jordan Meikle, finished 32nd.
North Shields Poly came close to making it a winning double for the region but at the end of the day had to be content with a set of runners-up medals in the under-15 boys 3x3.4k contest.
The Poly were back in 13th spot at the first changeover after Zak Old's 11:58 stint. However, things changed dramatically after Oliver Douglass stormed through the field to sixth place on the penultimate leg. At that point the Poly were 59 seconds behind leaders Salford and 36 seconds adrift of second-placed Vale Royal but the red-white-and-blues had kept their big gun until last and or how he gave it a go, first reeling in a number of the clubs ahead until there was only one, Vale Royal. Unfortunately, while recently crowned Junior GNR champion Josh Blevins posted a superb 11:10 - third fastest overall - which was 10 seconds quicker than his main rival, it wasn't enough leaving the Poly to finish in second place 26 seconds down on the winners. Morpeth, with Joe Dixon (11:22, eighth fastest overall), Bertie Marr (12:00) and Ryan Davies (12:14) finished in fifth place.
The Poly also led the region's charge in the under-13 boys contest over the same 3.4k course with their A team of Harry Furness (13:08), Zac Brannon (12:45) and Ben Scantlebury (13:18) finishing in seventh place, three places ahead of the Darlington trio of Harry Lyons (12:40, Edward Keeley (13:25) and Louis Brett (13:28). North Shields Poly's B team, made up of the Maley brothers Benjamin, Jonathon and Matthew - is this a first? - finished 28th, one place ahead of the Houghton trio of Joseph McGinley, Ryan King and Thomas Pigford.
The under-17 women's contest was over the same distance as the men's and it was the Houghton trio of Nicole Phillips (14:22), Lydia James (15:21) and Anno Pigford (14:33) who were the region's first team home finishing in sixth place. Elswick, who were lining up for the first time, finished a more than satisfactory 10th thanks to the efforts of Suzannah Fielding (15:04), Charley Lee (16:13) and Hannah Tumia (14:58). The North Shields trio of Alexandra Berry, Kirsty Nash and Lucia Bradley, finished 23rd.
In the under-15 girls 3x3.4k contest the Poly came through from sixth to third on the final stage to claim the bronze medals. Ellie Vandermerwe had the Poly in third place at the first changeover after clocking 12:37 which was the sixth fastest of the day. Katie Joslyn slipped back to sixth on stage two (13:52) but Holly Waugh's 12:47 was good enough to bring the Poly home in third place. The Blackhill Bounders trio of Alix Walton, Molly Anderson and Hannah Bowyer just got the better of the Birtley threesome - Abigail Thwaites, Mia Openshaw and Katie Francis, who was sixth fastest overall - to finish 23rd one place ahead of Birtley.
The under-13 girls 3x3.4k contest proved to be a huge success for Elswick with the trio of Lucy Milburn (14:51), Poppy Wilde (14:06) and Poppy Old (13:47) leading the North East challenge to finish in ninth place out of a total of of 41 teams. To make it a good day all-round the Newcastle club's B team of Isabella Russell, Sophie Henderson and Erin Blight, finished in 25th place, one place behind the Darlington threesome of Toni Buckley, Savannah Tarn and Libby Hammond. Blackhill Bounders' trio of Megan Shield, Rosie Anderson and Sophie Campbell, finished 38th.
ONCE more the region's youngsters were out in force in the Junior Great North Run. Literally hundreds and hundreds lined up in wave after wave contesting a 4k course on both banks of the Tyne.
The older, under-17, competitors had the added incentive of chasing the Stan Long Trophies which the Great Run Company put up each year in honour of Stan Long one of the best-known endurance coaches the North East has produced. And Stan would be all smiles and extremely proud when both the boys and girls cups were presented to Gateshead athletes by members of his family. The boys award went to the ever-improving David Race while English Championship 3,000m silver medallist, Ines Curran, romped home to claim the girls prize.
In the Junior GNR last year David finished 17th in 14min 56secs but this time round he improved to a staggering 12:47 to finish 14 seconds clear of Merseysider Jake Dickinson. Durham City's Adam Ord was making his Junior GNR debut and he made it all worthwhile by finishing in third place in 13:02.
Ines, meanwhile, was topping the podium for the third time having won in 2017 (14:41) and 2018 (14:15) and this year improved a further three seconds to 14:12. Joining Ines on the podium in the under-17 category were Chester-le-Street's Emily Chong who finished runner-up in 15:13 and Anna Pigford (Houghton) who completed the one-two-three in 15:32. That was an excellent result considering the event is now attracting competitors from the length and breadth of the country.
In the under-15 category English Schools' 1500 metres champion Josh Blevins (North Shields Poly) went one better than last year (13:19) to race home unchallenged to claim a superb victory in 12:54. Gosforth's Ethan Bond joined Josh on the podium to receive the silver medal after recording 13:23.
Birtley's Katie Francis also led the field home to claim top spot in her contest winning in 14:51 which was over a minute improvement on the previous year when she finished in ninth place. North Shields Poly's Holly Waugh received the third-place award finishing with a time of 15:17.
There were second place finishes for both Elswick's Sam Allison and Katy Otterson (North Shields Poly) in their particular events with Sam recording 14:18 and Katy 16:05 while Gosforth's Hannah Wightman finished in third place in her contest in 15:43.
While there were many award winners to celebrate on a day which started at 8am and concluded well after 5pm there were numerous other outstanding runs which augurs well for the future for endurance running in the North East.
AFTER following in Morpeth's footsteps for the past four years Sunderland Harriers eventually toppled the Northumbrians thanks to an all-round team effort to claim the Signals Six-Stage Road Relay Championship.
The event eventually went ahead after long-term negotiations with Sunderland City Council and, while less than half of the teams turned out which faced the starter last year, it didn't take anything away from the Sunderland Harriers' sextet. At the first changeover it was Houghton (Cameron Allan) leading thanks to the second fastest overall time of the day of 10min 47sec. Birtley (Adrian Bailes) were in second place just ahead of Sunderland (Michael Wilson) with Ali Bailey (Gateshead) in fourth place followed by Tyne Bridge (Tom Charlton). Defending champions Morpeth were back in sixth spot after Rowan Bennett's 11:11 stint.
Things changed dramatically on stage two with Morpeth moving quickly through the field to take up pole position thanks to former Sunderland man Joe Armstrong's effort of 10:43 which proved to be the fastest of the day. Sunderland also had a forward jump with Liam Taylor moving the Wearsiders into second place, 10 seconds adrift of the Northumbrians. Morpeth (Tom Innes) still had the upper hand at the half-way point though Sunderland (Michael Barker) had cut the deficit by three seconds. Morpeth's advantage widened further on leg four thanks to Ross Floyd who added another 11 seconds of daylight over the chasing Andrew Powell (Sunderland).
Sunderland moved into the lead for the first time on leg five thanks to an impressive 11:27 by Craig Gunn which left Morpeth (Jordan Scott) 11 seconds in arrears before handing over to Kieran Hedley to contest the glory leg. The assumption around the changeover area was that Hedley's younger legs would reel in Sunderland's Steve Rankin. And that certainly looked a possibility after the pair completed the first of their two circuits round Hetton Country Park. However, it was the Sunderland man who proved the stronger on the second circuit and managed to pull away from his rivals to bring his team home 21 seconds ahead.
While Morpeth may not have been at full strength those that turned out were in determined mood to hang onto the trophy but the all-round team effort by Sunderland proved to be worthy champions on the day.
The battle for the bronze medals could not have been tighter with Tyne Bridge (John Hurse) setting off on the final stage in third place followed by Houghton (Will Bellamy) and Gateshead (Stephen Asquith). However, it was Bellamy who proved the quickest of the trio to bring Houghton home in third place.
LEADING RESULTS: 1 Sunderland 1:08.10; 2 Morpeth 1:08.31; 3 Houghton 1:10.20; 4 Gateshead 1:10.43; 5 Tyne Bridge 1:11.19; 6 Darlington 1:12.11. FASTEST LEGS: 1 J Armstrong (Morp) 10:43; 2 C Allan (Hough) 10:47; 3 A Bailes (Birt) 10:55; 4 M Wilson (Sund) 10:56; 5 T Charlton (TyneBr) 10:57; 6 A Bailey (Gates) 10:59.
MASTERS - MEN 40-50 - SIX STAGE RELAY
This event was held in conjunction with the seniors and once again it was Sunderland Harriers who topped the podium which wasn't surprising as the three fastest athletes on show were all members of the winning team. Chris Jackson immediately had the Wearsiders in pole position on the opening stage with a time of 11min 57sec. From then on they were never headed with Kevin Jeffress adding to their advantage with the fastest time of the day of 11:50 on stage two .Steve McMahon (12:01), Martin Blenkinsop (13:10), Graeme Pullan (13:27) and Steven Gordon (13:07) completed the gold medal winning sextet.
Morpeth once again had to settle for second place with Lee Bennett their quickest (12:25). Jarrow and Hebburn were next to cross the line with Nick Atkinson their best on the day clocking 13:06.
LEADING RESULTS: 1 Sunderland 1:15.32; 2 Morpeth 1:18.27; 3 Jarrow and Hebburn 1:22.09; 4 Sunderland B 1:24.28; 5 Crook 1:28.06; 6 Blyth 1:28.25. FASTEST LEGS: 1 K Jeffress (Sund) 11:50; 2 C Jackson (Sund) 11:57; 3 S McMahon (Sund) 12:01; 4 C Chapman (Crook) 12:02; 5 L Bennett (Morp) 12:25; 6 T Lewis (Morp) 12:36.
SENIOR WOMEN FOUR-STAGE CHAMPIONSHIP
Morpeth may have had to settle for second best in the men's championship but they made up for it by winning an exciting women's four-stage contest though they left it until the final leg before moving into first place.
Gateshead led at the first changeover thanks to Chloe Wellings' 12min 55secs stint. Morpeth (Catriona MacDonald) were second and Houghton (Eva Hardie) were next. Wallsend (Sam Brooks) were back in 10th position but by the end of the second stage they were leading thanks to Danielle Hodgkinson's fastest time of the day of 11:49. Wallsend had a lead of 20 seconds over Gateshead (Beth Curran) with Elswick back in third place a further five seconds adrift. Things changed dramatically on the penultimate stage with Gateshead moving into the lead (Jane Giles) as Wallsend's Julie Williams hung on to second place ahead of Elswick (Susannah Fielding), Houghton (Nicolle Phillips) and Morpeth (Sarah Lawson). At that point Morpeth were over two minutes adrift of the leaders. However, a timely run by Rachel Falloon on the glory leg not only made up the deficit but she brought the team home in gold medal position with the day's second fastest time of the day of 12:45. So, it was a superb triumph with Morpeth winning by the narrow margin of just five seconds as Anna Pigford brought the young Houghton quartet home in second place. Elswick (Amy Hepinstall) finished in third place, Gateshead (Lisa Atkinson) were fourth, Tyne Bridge (Rachel Gill) fourth and Wallsend (Kerry Spencer) sixth.
LEADING RESULTS: 1 Morpeth 56:51; 2 Houghton 56;56; 3 Elswick 58:05; 4 Gateshead 58:45; 5 Tyne Bridge 59:20; 6 Wallsend 59:39. FASTEST LEGS: 1 D Hodgkinson (Walls) 11:49; 2 R Falloon (Morp) 12:45; 3 C Wellings (Gates) 12:55; 4 C MacDonald (Morp) 13:01; 5 E Hardie (Hough) 13:18; 6 A Fuller (Elsw) 14:02
VETERAN WOMEN - 35+ - FOUR-STAGE RELAY
Jarrow and Hebburn (Alexis Dodd) led on the opening stage thanks to the fastest time of the day (13:45). North Shields Poly (Carla Maley) were in second place and Elswick (Catherine Lowes) in third spot. The Poly moved into the lead on stage two thanks to Becky Coleman with evergreen Heather Robinson keeping Jarrow and Hebburn in contention in second place as Hannah Marshall consolidated third place for Elswick. Alison Dixon and Michelle Thomson extended the Poly's lead to the finish where they had three minutes in hand over Jarrow and Hebburn whose quartet was completed by Masha Jobling and Vicki Thompson who took time off from ther golf exploits to complete the quartet.
Elswick, with Amy Brown and Felicity Smith completing their team, finished in third place.
LEADING RESULTS: 1 North Shields Poly 59:39; 2 Jarrow and Hebburn 1:02.46; 3 Elswick 1:03.47; 4 Crook 1:04.29; 5 Sunderland 1:04.56; 6 South Shields 1:05.06. FASTEST LEGS: 1 A Dodd (J&H) 13:45; 2 C Maley (NSP) 14:10; 3 C Lowes (Elsw) 14:17; 4= F Dembele (SthSh) and B Coleman (NSP) 14:35; 6 C Teasdale (Crook) 14:43.
MASTERS - 50+ - FOUR-STAGE RELAY
Greg Penn had North Shields Poly in the lead at the first changeover finishing ahead of Tim Field (Sunderland). However, the Wearsiders were quickly in pole position on stage two thanks to the fastest time of the day (12:06) by Michael Thompson. Sunderland, with Paul Merrison and Darren Fletcher completing their line-up, were never headed after that as North Shields Poly built on Greg Penn's good start to finish in silver medal position thanks to Gary Robson, man-of many talents Vaughan Hemy and James Thompson all putting in good shifts.One of the loudest cheers of the day came when Crook were announced to have finished in third place just eight seconds ahead of Sunderland Strollers and a further 17 seconds ahead of fifth placed Jarrow and Hebburn. Crook's quartet of Jason Bridgwater, Paul Brennan, Geoff Hewitson and Wayne Pearson celebrated with a double helping of cakes which were on offer thanks to Houghton Harriers, the host club.
LEADING RESULTS: 1 Sunderland 52:20; 2 North Shields Poly 54:16; 3 Crook 56:09; 4 Sunderland Strollers 56:17; 5 Jarrow and Hebburn 56:34; 6 Sunderland B 56:46. FASTEST LEGS: M Thompson (Sund) 12:06; 2 G Penn (NSP) 12:45; 3 G Robson (NSP) 12:56; 4 T Field (Sund) 12:57; 5 S Everett (DurC) 13:09; 6 J Duthie (Walls) 13:13.
*Grateful thanks go to Houghton Harriers for once again hosting an excellent NE Counties Signals Road Relay Championships which next year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the event.
THE North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships returned to Middlesbrough Sports Village for a second time with entries up 10 per cent on the previous year.
This increased participation helped produce eight new championship best performances, one championship equalling performance as well as a guest athlete taking advantage of being allowed to compete by blowing away the senior women's javelin figures.
However, the two-day athletics fixture wasn't all about the record breakers as many who took part were rewarded with new pbs in their chosen events.
While the region's well established clubs were naturally to the fore once again there were numerous podium places for the less glamorous outfits not normally known for track and field prowess.
Gateshead Harriers led the charge showing a return to the glory days and, with around 100 athletes making the trip down the A19, were rewarded with 83 of them mounting the podium, 49 of which received gold medals, 25 picked up a silver medal and 19 received a bronze award.
At the other end of the spectrum Derwentside AC, who had a small sprinkling of athletes, were celebrating big time especially when Isla Fenwick topped the podium on no fewer than three occasions after victories in the under-13 200m, 800m and long jump setting new pbs along the way.
Not to be outdone Liam Townson added to Derwentside's medal tally by picking up a silver in the under-15 high jump.
Billingham Marsh House meanwhile, saw Max Butler finish in second place in the under-15 boys 800m while Rowan Teasdale did likewise in the under-15 1,500m.
Now, back to the record breakers. There was only one senior record to fall and that was in the women's shot put contest which saw Gateshead's Sophie Littlemore not only winning her fifth title in a row- she also has four indoor gold medals to her name - but more importantly erasing the 1977 record of 13:83m set by Cathy Hartnell (Sale Harriers) with a best effort of 13:89m.
Since linking up with the Tyneside outfit back in 2015 Sophie has been a loyal servant for the club and a prolific supporter of the county championships.
Last year Bobbie Griffiths set a new championship record of 37:69m in the under-20 women's javelin competition. However, she delivered a superb 38:88m effort this time round showing that the upward spiral continues. Bobbie, who has a lifetime best of 42:27, is currently ranked seventh in the UK listings.
There were three new championship records set in the under-17 men's section, two on the track and one in the field and also three in the women's age group, two in the field and one on the track.
English Schools' champion Dan Joyce set new 800m figures of 1:55.42 last year but went event better this time round with a new record of 1:53.71, a time which equates to third place in the current UK rankings.
In the 3,000m Wallsend's Sam Charlton broke the record last year with a time of 8:45.93 before going on to claim the National, Inter Counties and English Schools' Cross-Country titles. However, his figures were quickly erased as Middlesbrough Mandale's Archie Lowe produced a blistering performance of 8:39.80 which moves him into sixth position in the Po10 rankings.
While both Dan's and Archie's performances were more than creditable it was the under-17 discus, the final event on the opening day, that had the sprinkling of spectators left in the stadium spellbound.
North Shields Poly's James Wordsworth set about chasing Morpeth's Ruaridh Lang's two-year record of 45:65m and he did it magnificently by producing a new life-time best of 49:75m, a distance which slots him into second place in this year's UK rankings.
The under-17 women's 300m record had stood since 1991 but, in the final event of the championship it was bettered by Durham City's Tia Anderson (pictured above, photo credit ROSS PICHLER).
Teesside's Alison Curbishley, who went on to achieve numerous international honours, ran 40.15s over a quarter-of-a-century ago but Tia managed to dip under that recording a superb new pb of 40.10s which sees her move up into seventh place in the UK listings Another international's record also fell by the wayside in the under-17 pole vault. In 2007 Gateshead's Sally Scott, who went on to claim Commonwealth bronze in Hampden Park, Glasgow in 2014, cleared 3:30m but that height was bettered by Birtley's Molly Elliott who soared over 3:50m, a height slightly down on her pb but nevertheless consolidates third place in this years rankings.
The final record to fall came in the under-17 women's hammer competition which saw Morpeth's Jessica Gardiner throw a huge new pb of 46:17m which erased Middlesbrough Mandale's Saada Juma 2018 figures of 44:46m from the record books.
Gateshead's Lucy Giles came agonisingly close to adding her name to the record breakers. However the under-17 athlete, despite having a superior pb, could only equal the current record of 12:07m.
In the senior women's javelin competition Trafford's Kaylie Van Loo was allowed to compete as a guest and produced a best throw of 44:66m which would have been a new record if she had North East qualifications. However, West Suffolk's Sarah Dunkley's 2008 figures of 42:27m still stands.
Despite the increased turnout there were still a number of events which attracted just one or two competitors which, while the championships were a success, they could be much better if more and more would turn their attention to track and field competition during the summer months.
A special pat on the back goes to all competitors and spectators together with the volunteer technical officials who gave their time over two long days. Also thanks to Start Fitness for their generous support and to Meeting Manager Keith Willshire who worked tirelessly before and during, making sure the championships ran smoothly.
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.