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.