AFTER an absence of 13 years Lewis Robson is back on the top of the podium after taking the North Eastern Counties Pentathlon senior title with a record-breaking score. Despite being the only senior entrant at Monkton Stadium the former double English Schools’ 400 metres champion showed glimpses of his former self as he scored a superb 2,630 points which eclipsed the championship best of Gateshead team-mate Richard Kaufman’s 2013 figures of 2,521pts as well as erasing the meeting record points of 2,526pts set by City of Sheffield’s Thomas Grantham in 2017.
Robson, now 33-years-old, has linked up with his former coach Derek Wilcox at the International Stadium and the duo are working together as though there has been no break in proceedings with the intention of Robson improving as much as possible before moving
up into the veterans’ categories. Robson’s day’s work was: 5:78m long jump; 35:88m javelin; 31:01m discus; 24:32s 200m and 5:00:27 1,500m, which, at the end of the final event, brought a huge smile to his face. After receiving his double reward, Robson said: “I’m naturally delighted with my day’s work, I came with the hope of breaking the records despite not having competed in a long jump or ran a 1500m since 2006, so that’s why I’m so happy. “After being away so long I never thought that I would be able to return to athletics, but getting in touch with Derek is the best thing I’ve done for many years. I’m hoping Derek is enjoying it as much as I am.”
The under-17 contest was won by Matthew Burton (South Shields) who totalled 1,824pts after setting new pbs in all five categories! Gateshead’s Cameron Marshall totalled 1,670pts to claim the silver medal after just missing out on a clean-sweep of pbs in the long jump. Yorkshire visitor Ruben Stovell came out on top in the under-15 boys section after scoring 2,328pts. Stovell, of Hallamshire Harriers, was lying in second place going into the final 800m sequence and he managed to pull out a huge pb of 2:13.74 to wrest the title from. Derby AC’s Sam Coulson who eventually had to settle for third place after also being overtaken by Darlington’s Ashton Harrison who was crowned NE champion with 2,069pts after producing four new pbs along the way. Harrison’s team-mate Thomas Hill finished in fourth place overall but was runner-up in the NE Championships after totalling 1,529pts.
The under-13 boys contest was an all North East affair with eventual winner, Darlington’s Hugo Douglas-Reeves taking the title with a score of 1,756pts, exactly 100 more than Gateshead’s Ben Cunningham, who led the competition after three events, with North Shields Poly’s Oliver Barlow claiming the final podium place with 1,270pts. While Douglas-Reeves can claim new pbs in three of the five phases it was Cunningham’s high jump clearance of 1:52m which certainly caught the eye, a height which moves him up
to third in the current Po10 rankings!
Like the senior men’s competition, the senior women’s contest also had only one competitor with victory going to Darlington’s Sarah Johnson who posted new pbs in the 100m (17.66s); high jump (1:46m) and shot put (8:55m).
In the under-20 women’s competition, Gateshead’s Philippa Ellis was another athlete with records on her mind. The current record of 2,355 points was set back in 2013 by Houghton’s Rachel Scott but Ellis was in determined mood from the off so much so she was never headed in the competition after opening with 15.31s in her favoured 100m hurdles. The teenager followed that up with 10:83m in the shot put; a 1:43m clearance in the high jump; a long jump best of 5:16m and finished off with 2:38.18 in the 800 metres which resulted in a superb 3,126pts to set a new championship and meeting record. Team-mate Gemma Smith finished in second place with 1,657pts with North Shields Poly’s Evie Perrett completing the one-two-three on 1,607pts
The under-17 women’s event was certainly a close-run thing with only 37 points separating the top three athletes at the end of the day. After posting new pbs in the high jump, 80m hurdles, shot put and long jump, Jarrow and Hebburn’s Lexi Brown had a slight lead going into the final 800m phase. However, despite running even quicker than ever before she was overtaken by North Shields Poly’s Anna Fitzpatrick and New Marske’s Molly Thrower and in the end had to be content with receiving the bronze awards after totalling 2,756pts. Thrower, meanwhile, posted a huge 800m pb to just edge second place by two points with a total of 2,758pts. However, it was Fitzpatrick, who also had to produce a new 800m life-time best to eventually secure top spot with a total of 2,793pts. Darlington’s Tori Buckley led the way in the under-15 girls event helped by a new high jump pb of 1:31m to total 2,547pts, which was just 67 points better than Blyth’s Senna Gorvett whose 2,480pts included new pbs in the long jump, high jump and 800m. Greater
Manchester visitor Amy Hewitt finished in third place, the Leigh athlete totalling 2,348pts. New Marske’s Georgia Richmond totalled 2,321pts in fourth place and received the NE Counties bronze medal.
The closest finish of the day came in the under-13 girls’ event with just five points separating Hartlepool AC’s Isla Watson and Neve Watson (no relation) at the end of the five disciplines. Isla held the advantage after two events and continued to lead going into the final 800m with a huge cushion. However, Neve, did her utmost to close the gap and did so significantly by posting 2:30.67 against Isla’s first-ever two-lap effort of 3:01.26. So, at the end of the day Isla totalled 2,279pts against Neve’s 2,274pts. What a finish! Darlington’s Lottie Graves went into the 800m lying in fifth place but her 2:37.91 moved her up into bronze medal position with a total of 2,082pts.
**The expected rain didn’t materialise and the sunshine for most of the day proved the weatherman wrong so it was well done to all the athletes and their supporters and huge thanks to Start Fitness, to all the technical officials, many of whom had been on duty in Redcar the previous day at the Northern Athletics Road Relays and to the stadium staff and first aid team without whom the championships would not go ahead.
MORPETH Harriers defended their senior titles with an impressive display at the re-arranged North Eastern Counties Signals Road Relay Championships held at Hetton Lions Park with thanks again to hosts Houghton Harriers and especially Peter Dodsworth whose tireless work prior to and during the fixture is greatly appreciated.
SENIOR WOMEN – 4x2.4 mile
Morpeth got the day’s proceedings off to a perfect start with victory in the senior women’s four-stage contest thanks to the fastest time of the day by Catriona Macdonald, whose 12:31 was 30 seconds quicker than when she ran the opening stage for the Northumbrians in 2019.
Jarrow and Hebburn (Alexis Dodd) were in second place 28 seconds adrift at the first changeover. However, the South Tyneside outfit were in pole position after moving to the front on stage two thanks to Alex Sneddon’s 13:09 effort which turned round the deficit into over a minute advantage at the half-way point of the contest.
The lead changed once again on leg three when former Alnwick athlete Millie Breeze regained the lead for Morpeth thanks to the second fastest overall time of the day of 12:43. Going into the final stage Morpeth had a cushion of 17 seconds, which saw fit-again Rachel Falloon extend the advantage to 45 seconds at the finish. Jarrow and Hebburn were clear runners-up as Gateshead, with Beth Curran their quickest (13:38), completed the one-one-two-three.
LEADING RESULTS – Senior Women (4x2.4 mile): 1 Morpeth 52:54; 2 Jarrow and Hebburn) 53:39; 3 Gateshead 57:27; 4 Sunderland 1:00:47; 5 Gosforth 1:02:19; 6 Durham City 1:02:33. Fastest legs: 1 C Macdonald (Morpeth) 12:31s; 2 M Breeze (Morpeth) 12:43; 3 A Dodd (Jarrow and Hebburn) 12:59; 4 E Hardie (Houghton) 13:02; 5 A Sneddon (Jarrow and Hebburn) 13:09; 6 R Falloon (Morpeth) 13:09.
MASTERS’ MEN (Over-50) 4x2.4 mile
The Over-50 Masters’ contest was run in conjunction with the senior women and it was the male quartets who held the upper hand with the first three teams finishing ahead of the first senior women’s foursome.
And, once again, it was Morpeth who were celebrating after Guy Bracken – formerly of North Shields Poly – who gave his team the perfect start with the second fastest time of the day of 12:19. North Shields Poly were in second place just five seconds behind thanks to Greg Penn with Sunderland in third (Tim Field) just under a minute further adrift.
The leading positions stayed the same for the rest of the contest with Lee Bennett, not content to ease home, running the last stage for Morpeth and posting the day’s fastest time of 11:56.
Morpeth’s total time was 50:56; North Shields Poly closed in with 52:22 with Sunderland, whose Chris Auld ran a storming last leg of 12:36, finished on 52:45.
LEADING RESULTS - Masters’ Men over-50: 1 Morpeth 50:56; 2 North Shields Poly 52:22; 3 Sunderland 52:45; 4 Houghton 55:21; 5 Birtley 57:19; 6 North Shields Poly B: 57:31. Fastest legs: 1 L Bennett (Morpeth) 11:56; 2 G Bracken (Morpeth) 12:19; 3 G Penn (North Shields Poly) 12:24; 4 C Auld (Sunderland) 12:36; 5 J Baty (North Shields Poly) 13:02; 6 E Sweeney (Sunderland) 13:05.
MASTERS WOMEN 4x2.4mile
It’s a pleasure to report a victory for a club from the south of the region and it was a success for New Marske Harriers on this occasion. Birtley were ahead on the opening stage thanks to Tracy Millmore who handed over just a second in front of Crook’s Joanne Raine with Jarrow and Hebburn (Rachel Brehney) in third place with the eventual winners (Gemma Harcombe-Moore) back in fourth spot.
A sizzling 13:24 by Kay Neesam on stage two, which was the fastest of the day, saw New Marske hit the front and from then on they were never headed despite the efforts of Lorna Graham and Lisa Short on the final two stages for Birtley. Sunderland Strollers, thanks to Aly Dixon’s final stage time of 13:25, helped the Wearsiders’ receive the bronze awards and relegate South Shields into fourth place
LEADING RESULTS - Masters Women (4x2.4 mile) 1 New Marske 58:13; 2 Birtley 58:20; 3 Sunderland Strollers 59:26; 4 South Shields 59:40; 5 Crook 1:00:07; 6 North Shields Poly 1:02:33. Fastest legs: K Neesam (New Marske) 12:34s; 2 A Dixon (Sunderland Strollers) 13:35; 3 F Dembele (South Shields) 13:54; 4 N Newson (North Shields Poly) 14:04; 5 T Millmore (Birtley) 14:13; 6 J Raine (Crook) 14:14.
SENIOR MEN 6x2.4 mile
Morpeth Harriers, with a mix of experienced and younger athletes, held off a determined challenge from 2019 champions, Sunderland Harriers, to retain the impressive Signals by over two minutes.
Ever-improving Houghton athlete Luke Pickering, led the field home at the first changeover with the day’s overall fastest time of 10:39. Sunderland (Liam Taylor) were in second place six seconds behind with Matthew Briggs for the eventual winners a further 11 seconds adrift.
On stage two the title holders moved into the lead thanks to Alistair Douglas’s effort of 11:08 with Sunderland consolidating second place ahead of Tyne Bridge (Marc Fenwick) as Birtley moved into fourth thanks to the efforts of recent triple NE Counties under-17 gold medallist Chris Perkins.
Once ahead there was no stopping Morpeth with David Melling, Tom Straughan, Phil Winkler – fourth fastest overall with 10:53 - and Ross Floyd all producing their fastest stage times to come home in 1:06:18. Sunderland held on to second place despite a strong effort from Gateshead with just nine seconds separating the squads at the line after over an hour’s contest.
LEADING RESULTS - Senior Men (6x2.4 mile): 1 Morpeth 1:06.18; 2 Sunderland 1:08.43; 3 Gateshead 1:08.52; 4 Birtley 1:09.51; 5 Morpeth B 1:10.21; 6 Tyne Bridge 1:11.42. Fastest legs: L Pickering (Houghton) 10:39s; 2 L Taylor (Sunderland) 19:45; 3 C Perkins (Birtley) 10:52; 4 P Winkler (Morpeth) 10:53; 5 M Fenwick (Tyne Bridge) 10:55; 6 M Briggs (Morpeth) 10:56.
MASTERS (over-40) 6x2.4 mile
A strong Darlington sextet were in control from the gun as John Clifford gave them the lead on the first leg after posting the fastest time of the day of 11:26. Sunderland were in second place with Elswick in third position followed by Morpeth back in fourth spot. Darlington continued to dominate as they reached the half-way point with Sunderland still in second place as Morpeth, cheered on by a swift 11:42 by John Butters, moved into third place ahead of Elswick. Sunderland closed slightly on leg four, but Darlington pulled away on the final legs thanks to Wesley Tarn’s closing stage effort of 12:25.
LEADING RESULTS - Masters’ over-40 (6x2.4 mile): 1 Darlington 1:15.36; 2 Sunderland 1:16.39; 3 Morpeth 1:19.21; 4 Elswick 1:21.18; 5 Sunderland B 1:26.12; 6 North Shields Poly 1:26.48. Fastest legs: 1 J Clifford (Darlington) 11:26s; 2 J Butters (Morpeth) 11:42; 3 P Blakey (Sunderland) 11:50; 4 A Ball (Elswick) 12:04; 5 S Thurlbeck (Sunderland) 12:14; 6 C Jackson (Sunderland) 12:15.
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.