THE second of a series of Track and Field fixtures hosted by the North Eastern Counties AA, the first on Teesside, proved a resounding success with athletes and officials enjoying the occasion despite Covid restrictions still being in place.
Two under-11 competitions were introduced into the programme – 75m and standing long jump, which, hopefully, will see those young competitors eager to make their mark in years to come.
A number of hurdles events opened the proceedings and it certainly proved a bonus for those who lined up with all but one of the 30 athletes setting new lifetime best times. Unfortunately, many of sprint hurdlers had the advantage of a strong breeze however, that does not take away the fact that they ran quicker than ever before. In the 400m hurdles, Gateshead junior international Jason Nicholson opened his season account with a new pb of 52.02secs, a time which sees him in third place in the Po10 rankings while Mia Liddell, also of Gateshead, ran 66.17s to be ranked number four at under-20 level.
A series of 100m races followed on from the hurdles events and here again the speed merchants took advantage of the blustery conditions, which resulted in over 60 new pbs. Seeded in race six Blyth’s Abigail Huntly certainly didn’t disappoint by posting a superb 14.06s in the under-13 age group. The fastest under-15 girl on view was also a Blyth athlete, Millie Wilkinson, who posted 12.68s which consolidates her top 10 place in the current listings. At under-17 level Gateshead pair Evie Harrison and Joel Brown-King were in good form posting 12.29s and 11.30s respectively, with Evie’s time the third quickest in the UK this year. Gateshead sprinters are certainly at the top of their game in early-season competition as was shown not just in the younger age groups but in the contests for more-seasoned athletes. That came through loud and clear as Joy Eze stopped the clock at 11.61s and Philippa Ellis recording 12.23 in the under-20 age group, which has Joy at number two with Philippa, after her hurdles’ success earlier, now in the top 10. In the last of the official 100m races victory went to Scott Hall in 10.96s who got the verdict over Sunderland’s Jordan Beavers (11.04s) with another Gateshead athlete, Matthew Lumb (u-20) in third place in 11.11s. However, thanks to the officials’ generosity, a race was organised for athletes who earlier had been disqualified due to a faulty start and Josh McKeown (Gateshead) grabbed the chance and produced a lifetime best run of 10.91s.
It was the turn of the middle distance runners next and here again competitors rose to the occasion producing some excellent competition which, without the need of pacemakers, produced a host of pbs. The final metric mile was a superb example of athletes prepared to take up the running if they felt the pace was dipping with no less than four of the 13-strong field leading at one time. However, at the line it was Birtley’s Chris Perkins who prevailed after seeing off the challenge of his rivals in the final charge to the line. Perkins’ winning time of 4:00.35 was a huge nine seconds quicker than his previous best for the distance and is now third in the Under-17 listings. Another under-17 athlete, Scottish raider Corey Campbell (Team East Lothian) won the battle for second place finishing in 4:01.79 to relegate Middlesbrough and Cleveland’s Greg Jayasuriya (4:02.36) into third. Another 1500m athlete who certainly caught the eye was Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon whose time of 4:42.28 puts her fourth in the under-15 girls Po10 rankings. Other age group bests on the night included Sophie Quinn (u-13g, Billingham Marsh House) 5:10.59; William Jardine (u-13b, Durham City) 4:54.53, which was 17 seconds quicker than his previous best; Joseph Close (u-15b, Morpeth) 4:36.10; Katie Francis (u-17w, Birtley) 4:52.03; Jak Jarvis (u-17m, Sunderland) 4:46.73 and Ines Curran (u-20w, Gateshead) 4:42.10.
Next up was the 200m with many of the contestants doubling-up after running 100m earlier. And Josh McKeown showed his short sprint performance was no fluke by storming around the bend to taste another superb success in a time of 21.78s pushing City of York’s Robert Shipley into second place in 22.06. Joy Eze was another double ‘winner’ claiming 200m victory in 23.73s, her wind-assisted time would put her top of this year’s rankings. Other 200m age group successes included: Dylan Love (u17m, Gateshead) 22.48s; Asha Root (sw, Newcastle University) 26.00s; Matthew Inman (u-15b, Gateshead) 24.25s; Emily Maude (u15g, City of York) 26.75s; Martha French (u13g, North Shields Poly) 28.14s and Douglas Reeve (u13b, Darlington) 27.06s.
There was a healthy turnout in the field events with many competitors rewarded with new pbs. In the discus competition, North Shields Poly’s James Wordsworth consolidated fourth place in the Po10 under-20 rankings with a new pb throw of 47:83m. Gateshead’s Joseph Perkins was equally in good form in the under-15 age group, adding three metres to his previous best with a throw of 36:16m, which places him in second place in the season’s listings.
In the shot put competition, former Morpeth athlete Craig Carlton, now competing for Woodford Green Essex Ladies, continued his good form with a put of 16:41. In a highly-contested under-15 girls competition, Gateshead’s Leila Thompson came out on top with a new pb of 11:07m with Cumbria visitor Ellen Sherwen (Copeland) producing 9:79m and Kaitlyn Waddell (North Shields Poly) making a mark at 9:91m. Emily Stewart, on the eve of her trip to Poland for her GB debut did herself no harm at all by producing a big pb pf 24:95m in the discus after her 8:48m in the shot put competition.
In the javelin event, there were numerous pbs especially with age group winners Skye Marshall (u13g, Gateshead) 25:77m; Archie Wright (u13b, City of York) 31:92m; Phoebe Hall (u15g, Gateshead) 34:50m, who held off the challenge of team-mate Leila Thompson who threw 32:61m, the duo being ranked seventh and eighth respectively.
The leading triple jump athlete on view was Morpeth under-20 Charlotte Earl who jumped a wind-assisted 10:72m and a legal 10:42m. There were pbs for leading age group winners Ashton Harrison (u15b, Darlington) 10:34m and Maisie French (u17w, North Shields Poly) 9:92m
There were 25 long jump competitors keeping the officials on their toes with City of York competitors certainly excelling. The Yorkshire club had the leading under-15 girl, Emily Maude (5:65m) who beat of the challenge of team-mate Esme Pounder (5:06m) and Victoria Park City of Glasgow’s Aleshia O’Connor (5:00m). City of York also had the leading pair in the under-17 women’s competition with victory going to Frances Hogg (5:44m) ahead of Rebecca Lister (5:06m).
Earlier in the day, it was the turn of the under-11 competitions to take centre stage with Allerton pair James Throup and Connie Wilford setting the standard in the 75 metres with James recording 12.05s and Connie 12.02s. In the standing long jump it was the turn of the Derwentside club to shine as Tilly Lee came out on top with a jump of 1:88m with her club-mate finishing second just two centimetres adrift. The best boys’ performance was by Darlington’s James L’Anson who made a mark in the sand at 1:80m.
Once again thanks to all officials and athletes who helped make the meeting a huge success especially athletes who travelled to the impressive Middlesbrough Sports Village for the first time, hopefully we will see you all back in the future.
A special thanks to the City of York club who had more than 30 competitors on the day!
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.