MORPETH Harriers’ first ever North of England Track and Field League meeting to be held at the new track at KEVI School ended on a note of anti-climax, writes George Patterson.
Their senior men and women’s team completed their season by sadly being relegated to Division Three, despite not finishing last in any of their four matches throughout the campaign.
Saturday’s final fixture saw them battle hard, but a lack of depth of sprinters, in both genders, some unavailable through holiday commitments and injury, and some unexplained, which ultimately left a large gap for an already hard-worked squad to forge a positive result.
In a tightly-fought match, where remarkably only a mere 79 points divided first and last team place, Morpeth Harriers were very dominant in the men’s middle and longer distance events, scoring maximum double points in the 1500m, 5000m and 3000m steeplechase.
The best Morpeth women’s performer was Claire Reid, who gained the squad’s only actual victory in the discus, with a best of 34.98m.
Matters were clearly not helped when promising sprinter Megan Deakin was forced to sit out the contest after injuring a ham-string in the women’s long jump.
Morpeth Harriers’ first track win of the day came from the North East 1500m champion Ryan Stephenson, who was a clear winner of the men’s 800m in 1m57.6s.
Phil Winkler very nearly won the B-race with his clocking of 2m03.6s.
New North East 5k Road Race champion Lewis Timmins was very much untouchable in the 1500m, which he won in an excellent 3m58.4s, with his Morpeth Harriers clubmate Nick Swinburn being his closest rival.
Swinburn finished in 4m05.1s to take the B-race easily.
Karl Taylor and Phil Caldwell were very much a formidable duo in the 3000m steeplechase.
While Taylor won in 10m19.2s, Caldwell was a very clear winner of the B-race in 10m51.9s.
Caldwell also clocked a new pb when he finished second in the 400m hurdles in 67.7s.
Team manager John Thompson backed him up well by finishing second in the B-race in 80.2s.
In the 5000m, Morpeth’s Ian Harding won the A-race in 15m48.2s and Thomas Straughan excellently set new figures of 16m11.8s to take the B-race.
With Morpeth Harriers lacking strength of depth in their sprinters, they were forced to call upon Will Driver, who had not competed for a couple of seasons, to come to their rescue.
Driver clocked 11.3 and 24.3s respectively in the 100m and 200m, being backed up well by the hard-working Henrik Paulsen’s efforts of 12.3s and 25.6s for fourth and fifth places in the 100m and 200m, the former being a pb for the U20 athlete.
Paulsen also showed a willingness to help his club by finishing fifth in the B-race of the 400m in 57.5s, backing up Ryan Green’s A-race effort of 55.2s.
In the men’s field events, the Appleby brothers, Paul and Stephen performed well for Morpeth.
Paul finished fourth in the A-hammer with a best of 23.58m, with Stephen taking third in the B-competition with 21.36m.
In the discus, Stephen finished third in the A-string with 29.02m and Paul threw 27.13 for an excellent second in the B-competition.
Craig Pickup’s 8.76m in the A-string shot, was well backed up by Stephen Appleby’s B-string effort of 8.64m.
Morpeth Harriers did have a win in the high jump, courtesy of Ryan Green’s clearance of 1.85m.
Green also achieved a pb in the long jump with 5.48m.
Karl Taylor’s 10.63m, brought him second place in the triple jump.
Taylor also joined forces with Phil Winkler, Lewis Timmins and Nick Swinburn to get second place for Morpeth in the men’s 4x400m relay in 3m38.5s, finishing behind City of York.
Although Morpeth Harriers did not achieve an A-string victory on the track, they did achieve no less than five pbs.
Two of those belonged to Lorna MacDonald, who deputised for the unfortunate Deakin in the B-race of the 100m.
She clocked 15.7s, backing up Rosie McDonald’s A-race clocking of 14.8s.
Lorna went on to achieve a second pb of 5m25.1s to place fourth in the A-race of the 1500m.
She was well backed up by B-string runner Alison Brown finishing third and setting new figures of 5m31.8s.
The aforementioned Rosie McDonald was Morpeth’s only track winner of the day, taking the B-race of the 400m in 66.9s, backing up Amber Cormack’s A-race clocking of 64.3s for fifth place.
Cormack also set new figures of 28.4s when competing in the 200m.
One of the best Morpeth Harriers women’s track performances came in the 3000m, where triathlon specialist Emma Holt clocked 10m38.3s for third place.
In the women’s field events, in addition to her discus victory, Claire Reid also finished second in the shot (10.39m), fourth in the hammer (28.64m), and fifth in the javelin (19.26m).
She was well backed up in the B-events of the discus, shot and javelin by U17 athlete Kirsty Lang, who achieved 18.47m, 6.15m, and 12.56m respectively, the first two giving her pbs.
Despite sustaining her unfortunate injury, Megan Deakin bravely battled through to finish fourth in the A-string long jump with a best of 4.37m, and Alison Brown’s B-string effort of 3.27m was a pb.
Final match result (subject to further scrutiny):
1 Gateshead Harriers 366pts; 2 Middlesbrough (Mandale) 360; 3 North Shields Poly 318; 4 Morpeth Harriers 298; 5 Skyrac AC 296; 6 City of York 287.
Morpeth Harriers would wish to thank all those who turned out on the day to help out, which ensured that the event was successful in terms of its organisation, and to thank the St John Ambulance for their very valuable first aid assistance, also thanks to the helpers from KEVI School for their continued support in the manual handling of equipment.