IT WASN'T just the cross-country specialists who did the North East proud at the weekend with two individual gold medals, one silver and one bronze to show for their efforts but the indoor enthusiasts did even better picking up two gold medals, one silver and two bronze at the England Athletics Under-15/17/20 Indoor Championships at the EIS Arena, Sheffield.
And, but for an unfortunate disqualification, the medal haul in South Yorkshire could well have been even better.
Houghton's Henry Johnson by-passed the cross-country at Harwood House in favour of tackling the under-17 1500 metres on the boards and it proved a winning move as he stormed home to claim the gold medal in a UK top-ranking time of 3min 58.57sec. Middlesbrough Mandale's Daniel Payne also lined up and finished just outside the medals in fourth place in a time of 4:17.77.
Gateshead;s Jazmine Moss also tops the UK rankings after a winning pb performance in the under-20 women's 200 metres. After winning her heat in 24.95s and semi-final (24.52) Jazmine rose to the occasion in the final with a superb victory in 24.06s.
Fellow Gateshead athlete Jack Halpin went into the under-17 shot put competition topping the UK rankings but he was surprisingly upstaged on this occasion and pushed into second place by Chris Dyrmishi with the Rugby and Northampton athlete winning the contest by a matter of just four centimetres! Jack, who has a pb of 15:66 metres this season, produced a best-on-the-day 14:55m with Chris topping the podium with 14:59m. North Shields Poly's James Wordsworth was also slightly down on his best in finishing in fourth place with 13:86m.
The region was well represented in the final of the under-17 women's 60 metres with Gateshead duo Joy Eze and Megan Costello and Middlesbrough's Afoma Ofor going through from a series of heats and semi-finals. However, it was only Megan who managed to bring home a medal after producing a lifetime best of 7:78s to claim an excellent third place. While it was celebrations all round for Megan it was a bitter disappointment for her team-mate who came out of the blocks a fraction early and was immediately disqualified. Afoma, meanwhile, finished in seventh place in 7.95s after recording a pb of 7.87s in the semi-final. Such is the strength of the age group North Shields Poly had two girls making it through to the semi-finals. Jessica Lively recorded 8:10s in the heats and 8:12s in the semis while team-mate Lucy Errington clocked a pb of 8:10s in the heats before missing out on a place in final with a 8:17s recording in the semi-final. On the second day of the championships, Megan lined up in the 200m and just missed out on a place in the final after recording a season's best of 25.97s in the semi-final.
The final medalist to make it onto the podium was the newly-crowned North East under-17 pole vault champion Molly Elliott. Seven days before heading for Sheffield Molly thrilled the spectators at the county championships at Gateshead where she set a new record of 3:60m. However, she went even higher by adding another five centimetres to that height to take a magnificent bronze medal.
There were numerous other excellent performances from those who made the trip which reflects the hard work the athletes put in together with their coaches.
In the under-17 women's 60 metres hurdles four NE athletes were amongst the strong entry which required five heats. All of the quartet made it through to the semi-finals with Gateshead's Phillippa Ellis the fastest (8.91s) which just missed a place in the final line-up. Darlington's Charlotte Rutter recorded 9.09s after running marginally quicker in the heats (9.07s). Tynedale's Kate Smith ran 9.24s in the semi-final after recording 9.04s in the heats and it was similar story for Morpeth's Amy Lott who ran 9.22s in the heats and 9.25s in the semi final.
Gateshead;s Darcy Garbutt contested both the under-15 girls 60m and 200m and though she didn't make the final of either she recorded indoor pbs of 7.94s and 26.66s respectively. Jarrow and Hebburn's Nicola Caygill made it through to the semi-final of the under-20 60m where she ran 7.91s after running slightly quicker in the heats (7.89s) while sister Rachel missed out on a place in semi-final despite recording a pb of 8.14s in the heats.
In the middle distance events, Durham City's Cameron Thomas finished ninth in the final of the under-20 men's 1500m posting a new pb of 4:09.82 while Middlesbrough duo Sam Tyers (1:56.26) and Josh Allen (2:09.16) failed in their bid for a place on the podium.
Other field event placings of note included a fourth-place finish for Morpeth's Andrew Knight in the under-20 shot put (15:89m); Gateshead's new England junior international Amelia Bateman cleared 1:70m for fifth place in the under-20 women's high jump while team-mate Lucy Giles finished sixth in the under-17 women's shot put (12:05m)
COMPETITORS were soaring to new heights at the North Eastern Counties Indoor Championships at Gateshead College Academy for Sport.
That certainly was the case for pole vaulters Molly Elliott and Isabelle Potier Godinho and high jumper Amelia Bateman, who were a trio of athletes who set new Championship Best Performances on an excellent days competition which kept the enthusiastic audience entertained throughout the opening day of the championships which saw field eventers take over the riverside venue..
On the day there were six new records set with shot putters Sophie Littlemore and Grace McDonald and long jumper Joshua Chrisp adding their performances to the record book.
The pole vault competition commenced at 10am and didn't finish until 1pm as the bar kept rising as the athletes responded to the huge support from the college's balcony. And it was Molly who claimed the title of being best vaulter of the day despite competing in the under-17 age group while Isabelle lined up in the older under-20 category.
The Birtley athlete went into the competition after a confident-boost performance in Sweden late last month where she improved her pb to 3:52 metres so the target to better the old championship 2007 figures of 3:50m set by Gateshead's Sally Scott, who later went on to win Commonwealth Games bronze at Hampden Park in 2014, was certainly within her reach.
And that target was certainly achieved for not only did she go on to break the record but, in adding another 10 cenitmetres to Scott's record, she consolidated second place in the UK rankings in a big way. Despite the long competition Molly was quickly back in action this time on the long jump runway where she came out on top once again with a winning jump of 5:36m. Isabelle Potier Godinho (Gateshead), a training partner of Molly under the guidance of Chris Boundy, also had to vault higher than ever before in an attempt to erase the 2015 under-20 women's figures of 3:00m set by Kim Weatherburn (South Shields). And it was another delighted vaulter who topped the podium after a clearance of 3:10m which, not only was a new pb but also added 10 centimetres to the existing record.
Proudly wearing her newly-acquired England vest after representing her country in a junior international in Hustopece, Czech Republic, where she set a new indoor pb of 1:72m, Amelia Bateman set her sights on Emma Morris (South Shields) championship record of 1:70m. And the Gateshead athlete duly obliged as, in the true Sergey Bubka tradition, added one centimetre to Morris's figures.
Earlier this month Joshua Crisp lifted the North of England under-13 long jump gold medal after setting a new pb of 4:75m. and he continued that run of excellent form by soaring out to a record-breaking distance of 5:06m, a distance which sees him heading the UK rankings and the only boy to in the country to better the five metre mark. The Blyth athlete's new NE record erases the 2010 4:77m figures of Markhim Lonsdale who is now one of the countries leading 800 metres athletes.
It was now the turn of shot putters Sophie Littlemore (Gateshead) and Grace McDonald of Middlesbrough AC (Mandale) to take centre stage in the shot put circle.
Sophie, competing in the senior category, was out to regain her title having missed out on the championships last year as it clashed with the British Championships.
And it was a smiling athlete who topped the podium after claiming the gold medal by adding over a metre to her old figures with a put of 13:65m which was just four centimetres shy of her life-time best. Sophie's victory is her fifth NE Indoor title which adds to her collection of four outdoor gold medals.
Meanwhile, in the under-15 girls shot put competition, Middlesbrough's Grace McDonald produced a best effort of 11:03m to better the 2003 figures of 10:85m set by Birtley's Katy Wilson.
Grace has a pb of 11:48m and is currently ranked sixth in the UK.
While it is always nice to report on the record breakers there were many other notable performances over the two days despite the shortage of senior competitors. There was a good competition though in the senior men's shot put where former Gateshead man Craig Sturrock came out on top pushing Morpeth's recently-crowned Scottish Indoor champion Craig Charlton into second place.
Craig admitted he's lost count of the number of times he has lifted both the indoor and outdoor titles but was a happy man to win with a distance of 15:28m in his first competition of the year.
Other senior men winners were: Pawel Grzaslewicz (Darlington) who won the high jump with a 1:80m clearance; Jarrow and Hebburn's James Andrew claimed the long Jump title (6:22m) while another former Gateshead athlete, Scott Hall, had the spectators behind him as he claimed the triple jump gold medal with a distance of 15:45m.
In the senior women's section, Birtley's Rebecca Pottinger won the high jump (1:55m); Clare McGrath (Low Fell) put a mark in the sand at 3:08m to win the long jump and Kara Gibbs (Jarrow and Hebburn) cleared 2:55m to win the pole vault.
Under-20 men champions were Middlesbrough Mandale's Steven Wheater who just failed to claim the championship record of 1:98m but won the gold medal with a clearance of 1:95m; Gateshead's Joe Halpin won gold in the long jump (6:73m) and silver in the high jump (1:75m); Tynedale's Ellis Leonard won the triple jump (11:96m) and former Chester-le-Street athlete David Todd won the shot put contest with a best of 13:92m In the under-20 women's section there was an exciting long jump competition with victory going to Gateshead's Emma Scarborough with a best of 5:06m which was just three centimetres further than Tynedale's Louise Smith who claimed the silver medal. Blaydon's Rebecca Thorpe won the triple jump (11:06m) while Kate Carmichael claimed the gold medal in the shot with a put of 9:82m.
There was a double victory for Ethan Stephenson in the under-17 men's section, the Morpeth athlete topping the podium in both the high jump (1:75m) and the triple jump (12:37m) while Curtis Bingham (Jarrow and Hebburn) won the pole vault with a 2:70m clearance and Jack Halpin (Gateshead) won the shot with 14:68m. In the same age group, Jarrow and Hebburn's Tom Paterson won the long jump (5:64m) and finished runner-up in both the high jump (1:60m) and triple jump (11:30m).
The under-17 women's age group saw victories for Blyth's Ellie Morris in the high jump (1:61m); Gateshead's Lucy Giles in the shot put (11:60m) and North Shields Poly's Lucy Errington in the triple jump with a best of 10:49m.
In the under-15 boys section Scott Temple (Hartlepool YAC) won both the long jump and triple jump in 4:60m and 9:20m respectively while Jarrow and Hebburn's Andrew Caygill won the pole vault (1:50) and Gateshead's Vinny Baker claimed the shot put gold medal with a put of 11:62m.
North Shields Poly's Anna Fitzpatrick and Gateshead's Darcy Garbutt were in fine form in the under-15 girls section winning the high jump and long jump contests in 1:53m and 4:80m respectively. In the under-13 boys age group Tynedale's Oliver Hunter claimed victory in the high jump and shot put contests with figures of 1:42m and 7:35m respectively while Wallsend's Luke Pilcher received three silver medals after finishing runner-up in the high jump (1:27m), long jump (4:47m) and the shot put (6:84m).
IT WAS always going to be a tough act to follow for the sprinters and hurdlers after six new championship best performances were set on the opening day of the championships.
And so it proved despite many athletes going extremely close to re-writing the record books.
There was one record however to celebrate and that came in the under-17 women's 60m hurdles which didn't come as too much of a surprise as all five finalists ran quicker than ever before.
Victory went to Gateshead's Philippa Ellis in her favoured event after finishing in silver medal position in the shot put and long jump competitions the previous day.
Philippa's winning time of 8.78s moves her up into seventh place in the UK rankings while Darlington's Charlotte Rutter, who finished runner-up in 9.05s and was also busy 24 hours earlier by finishing second in the high jump and third in the long jump, is now ranked 16th.
The bronze medal went to Morpeth's Amy Lott who recorded 9.08s and is now also ranked inside the top 20. The under-17 women's category was the strongest representation of the championships with four heats being required for the 60m with athletes progressing to the semi-final and final. Despite having to face the starter on three occasions it didn't stop all of the medalists posting new pbs.
Victory went to Gateshead's Megan Costello in 7.80s - the record stands at 7.75s - with Middlesbrough Mandale's Afomo Ofor finishing second in 7.88s and Blyth's Heather Macdonald completing the one-two-three in 8.07s.
Gateshead were exceptionally strong in the under-17 men's 60m where five of the six finalists lined up from the Tyneside club. It was no surprise when Gateshead made a clean-sweep of the medals with, once again, the athletes all setting new life-time bests.
Victory went to Lewis Cant (7.19s), Josh McKeown finished runner-up in 7.24s with Daniel Lennie crossing the line in third place in 7.32s. Matthew Lawson, also of Gateshead, finished a close-up fourth in 7.33s.
In the 60m hurdles Blaydon's Aaron Lillistone topped the podium with a winning time of 8.96s.
Quickest athlete on view overall was Jarrow and Hebburn's Josh Errington who won the under-20 men's 60m in 7.03s which equalled his pb and was just three-hundredths-of-a-second away from the championship record.
Gateshead duo Kyle Walton and Gregory Abib Bukasa filled the minor placings in 7.13s and 7.27s respectively.
In the under-20 60m hurdles, victory went to Gateshead's Oliver Lewis in a new pb of 8.92s though he was upstaged by Daniel Njai who was competing in the Masters Championship and ran 8.78s.
The under-20 women's section saw wins for Stella Rene Perrett (North Shields Poly) in the 60m with a time of 8.03s and for Middlesbrough Mandale's Amy Carter in the 60m hurdles in a time of 9.33s.
Despite having five of the six finalists in the under-15 boys 60m Gateshead couldn't quite match the performance of their under-17 team-mates and had to settle for just the gold and silver medals. Blyth's Stewart Bestford, having his first-ever championship race indoors, managed to spoil the party by finishing in third place in 7.82s behind Joel Brown-King (7.70s) and Ulrich Lawson (7.77s).
Blaydon's Joseph Clark was also having his first indoor race and he came out victorious in the 60m hurdles with a winning time of 10.37s.
There were new pbs for the medalists in the under-15 girls 60m with Gateshead's Darcey Garbutt lifting the title in 7.95s to move into the top 10 in the UK rankings.
Middlesbrough's Martha Wyatt received the silver medal (8.12s) with Cody Hall (Shildon) capping a fine performance in third place in 8.20s.
In the 60m hurdles Darcey just failed to make it a winning double as she finished runner-up (9.77s) behind New Marske's Ebony Chrystal-Murtha who recorded 9.62s. Darcey's Gateshead team-mate Eve Harrison finished in third place in 10.17s.
It was pbs all round in the under-13 boys 60m though gold medallist Finlay Maynard (Middlesbrough) was having his first-ever outing indoors. The Teessider came out on top with a winning time of 8.56s with Wallsend's Reuben Moss finishing in second place in 8.64s and Blyth's Alex Walker completing the one-two-three in 8.99s. The 60m hurdles was won by Bailey Peacock in 12.58s.
Just three-hundredths-of-a-second separated the medallists in the under-13 girls 60m. All three girls were rewarded with new pbs with victory going to Gateshead's Cecile Nelson in 8.64s. Maya Turner of Blyth finished second in 8.66s with North Shields Poly's Madie Barbour third in 8.67s.
Blyth's Hannah Wilson recorded a pb of 10.16s to win the 60m hurdles as Hannah Lott (Morpeth) finished second (10.23s) with Blaydon's Grace Kyle completing the medallists in 10.65s.
There were only three senior men and three senior women contesting their respective 60m race. Julian Osei-Bonsu won the men's championship in 7.31s with Gateshead team-mate Justin Cooper second in 7.58s and North Shields Poly's James Mole third in 7.90s.
The women's event was won by Laura Mole (North Shields Poly) in 8.33s with Katie Tavers (Gateshead) finishing second in 8.39s and Emily Stewart (Gateshead) receiving the bronze award in recording 9.27s.
Thanks go to all the athletes who took part without them we wouldn't have a championships while spectators played a huge part in making the two-day meeting a success by cheering on every competitor.
Also a huge thanks to the organisers and officials on the day who made sure everything ran smoothly and to time. We now look forward to the NE Indoor Pentathlon at the same venue on Sunday, March 17.
DESPITE travel difficulties the region still managed to line up a huge turnout at the Northern Athletics Under-15 and Under-13 Indoor Championships at the EIS Arena, Sheffield.
The North East's only gold medallist was Blyth's Joshua Chrisp who came out on top in the under-13 boys long jump with a new pb clearance of 4:75 metres.
the event was a huge triumph for the region with Rhys Brunton (North Shields Poly) - Rhys had competed in the Northern Inter-Counties cross-country championships at South Shields on a snow-bound course the previous day - joining him on the podium in second place (4:29m) and Wallsend's Luke Pichler finishing in sixth place with a best effort of 3:99m.
After completing his long jump competition, Joshua made a quick getaway to contest the final of the 60m where, once again, also headed Rhys with the Blyth athlete finishing runner-up (8.23s) behind Rotherham's Adam Javed who set a new championship record of 8.01s. Rhys, meanwhile just missed out on a medal finishing in fourth place in 8.62s after recording 8.46s in the earlier rounds.
The region had three other competitors in the event with Hartlepool Youth's Ryan Hodge (8.97s) and Blyth's Joseph Anderson (9.23s) and Chester-le-Street's Fenic Couzens (9.49s) all going out in the heats. Luke Pichler, meanwhile, did make it onto the podium after finishing in bronze medal position in the shot put contest with a new pb of 6:58m while Rhys was also in pb form when recording 27.56 in the heats of the 200m.
He couldn't quite match that performance in the final however, but still managed to make it onto the podium in third place after clocking 28.51s. Houghton's Joseph McGinley also made it through to the final and crossed the line in fifth place in 30.22s after recording a pb of 29.54 in the heats. Joseph also finished in fifth place in the final of the 800m setting his second pb of the day with 2: 35.37.
Luke Pichler also set a new pb in the heats with 29.76s.
In the under-15 boys section Gateshead's Joel Brown King finished runner-up in the 60m with a new pb of 7.76s while team-mate Jay Rawson finished third in the high jump, also with a new pb of 1:60m, Jay also finished in fifth place in the 60m hurdles final in a time of 10.16s. Gateshead team-mate Joshua Hickson with a pb of 8.08s and Fergus Green (Hartlepool Youth) who recorded 8.04s in the heats, both missed out on a place in the final. In the 800m North Shields Poly's Josh Blevins showed no signs of weariness after his winning run in the cross-country the previous day by finishing in second place with a new pb of 2:07.70, an improvement of nearly two seconds on his previous best. In the 200m Fergus Green just missed out on a place once again after setting a new pb of 25.59s in the heats.
The region only managed two medals amongst the girls events on a packed programme. It came courtesy of Middlesbrough Mandale's Grace McDonald who finished in third place in the under-15 girls shot put contest with a put of 10.38m and Blyth's Madeleine Liddell in the under-13 girls 200m.
Despite the scarcity of awards there were still many promising performances among the girls. Darlington's Darcey Garbutt made it to the final of the 60m hurdles where she finished eighth position in 10.00s after recording 9.85s in the heats. Blyth's Millie Train going out in the heats despite setting a new pb of 10.59s.
Darcey also made it through to the final of the 60m where she produced a pb of 8.09s for sixth place.
The event had numerous other entrants from the region with North Shields Poly's Joanna Irving setting a new pb of 8.33s in the semi-finals while team-mate Lily Lee recorded 8.75s in the heats. Allerton Juniors' Hayley Calvert also competed recording 9.73s in the heats. In the 200m Gateshead's Charlotte Graham set a new pb of 29.57s after making it through to the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Madeleine Liddell was in the form of her life over one circuit of the arena. In the under-13 girls 200m heats she produced a pb of 29.78s, then ran quicker in the semi-finals with 28.75s and then produced a superb pb of 28.51s in the final to make it onto the podium.
North Shields Poly's Maddie Barbour also made it through to the final eventually finishing sixth in 29.91 after recording a pb of 28.98s in the semi-final. Blyth's Sadie Parker also made it through to the semi-finals recording a new pb of 29.95.
In the 60m, Blyth's Maya Turner and Hannah Wilson both made it through to the final with Maya finishing in fourth place (8.69s) and Hannah in sixth with a new pb of 8.82s. Chester-le-Street's Lily White and North shields Poly's Maddie Barbour both made it to the semi-finals recording 8.97s and 9.06s respectively.
Despite a new pb of 4:46m, Hannah Wilson just missed out on a medal by one centimetre in the long jump eventually finishing in fourth place.
Finally, Chester-le-Street's Ella Jones produced a season's best of 2:41.35 in the 800m. For all those who competed in Sheffield, medallists or not, it was a great experience for the future for it was extremely pleasing to see so many athletes from different North East clubs making the trip.
While not a NE athlete a comment would not go amiss to mention the performance of Sale's Success Eduan in the under-15 girls 200m.
Not only did the youngster smash the championship record with a time of 24,38s but it also broke the UK all-time 200m record by four tenths of a second.
A truly remarkable performance!
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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.