Harriers put themselves in line for promotion

MORPETH Harriers produced an improved display in their Northern League Division Three match at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium to take second place on the day and put themselves into a promotion spot with two of the four fixtures completed.

Traditionally the club’s strength is in the middle and long-distance events and this was where many of their points came. The first track winner was Matt Nicholson in the 800 metres with a time of 1.59.0 while Michael Dawson found 2.09.7 enough for a comfortable win in the B section of the event.

Another Morpeth double came from Neil Gunstone (10.36.0) and John Woods (10.47.5) as they shared the lead in the Steeplechase to come home well clear of their nearest opponents.

After a lengthy lay off from the sport, including two broken legs, Jack Hepple has been feeling his way back into racing but this was the day that the 17-year-old really started to make people take notice. He won the 400 metres convincingly in 51.5 seconds and then won the 200 metres in an even more impressive 22.8, both personal bests.

Fifteen-year-old Phil Winkler made it a 400 metres double, taking the B race in 53.8 seconds (also a pb), while Henrick Paulsen gained useful points finishing fourth in the B race of the 200 metres.

Jonnie Nisbet was another Morpeth youngster setting a pb when finishing 3rd in the 1500 metres in 4.13.2 while Michael Dawson took victory in the B race.

Northern 10,000 metres champion Peter Newton led all the way in the 5000 metres to win by over half a lap in 1.-51.3 with Dave Swinburne, despite a calf niggle, easily winning the B section in 16.31.7.

However, there were also plenty of Morpeth successes in the throwing events, headed by a double victory in the discus by Paul Appleby (33.21m) and Stephen Appleby (31.62m).

The Appleby brothers were also big points scorers in the shot (Paul second in the A section and Steven winning the B) and in the hammer where Paul was third in the A and Steven 2nd in the B.

The Javelin brought another good result for Morpeth with team manager John Thompson third in the A section (32.45m) and Craig Pickup winning the B competition with 31.42m.

Another good field event for Morpeth was the triple jump where John Woods returned from his exertions in the Steeplechase to win with 11.02 metres while John Thompson took the B competition with 10.12m.

Morpeth’s Women’s team has been a big disappointment over the last couple of years with few of the club’s senior athletes turning out in the League. However, an influx from the successful U 17 squad is starting to turn things round.

There was a double win for Morpeth in the 3000 metres where Kate Chapman led for most of the race only to be outpaced by Hannah Rank in the final lap – Hannah winning in 11.19.7 to Kate’s 11.32.1.

Throughout the Women’s team’s difficulties, thrower Claire Reid has been one of the pillars that the club could rely on and Jarrow showed just how much she contributes to the team. Claire first won the hammer (32.05m – close to her best), then the discus (32.82m), followed by victory in the Shot (9.78m) and completed her day with second place in the javelin.

However, now Claire has taken on an apprentice – 15-year-old Chelsey Morrison. Chelsey had never handled a hammer until three weeks previously but this time won the B section of the event with an excellent throw of 23.22 metres. She followed this with comfortable wins in both the B Discus and the B shot.

Other highlights in the Women’s team were a third place for Alison Brown in the 1500 metres (5.15.1), and another third place for Molly McDonald in the 800m (2.39.0) with Sarah Wilkes winning the B event in 2.43.0.

The Morpeth 4 x 400 squad of Alison Brown, Molly McDonald, Hannah Sheerin and Rosie McDonald (average age just over 15) then ran the highly rated North Shields team close to take second place in their final race of the afternoon.

However, the Men’s 4 x 400 team of Neil Gunstone, Jonnie Nisbet, Matt Nicholson and Jack Hepple went even better and finished off their programme with an emphatic win in 3.45.3.

Morpeth still need to address weaknesses in the hurdles events and many of the jumps, but with reinforcements expected for the next meeting, particularly from more of the female young athletes’ squad, a win over League leaders North Shields could be on the cards.

Match result: 1 North Shields 402; 2 Morpeth 365; 3 Houghton 323; 4 Wallsend/Blyth 29; 5 S Shields/Birtley 223; 6 Richmond & Zetland 204.

• Laura Weightman sliced more than three seconds off her pb when finishing third in the 1,500m at the Fanny Blanckers-Koen Games in Hengelo, Holland at the weekend, and in running 4mins4.88secs, also achieved the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard.