THE summer of 2012 will be long remembered by members of the North East Counties Athletic fraternity as that of a season blighted by torrential rainstorms, laced with dramatic thunder and lightning, writes George Patterson.
In the case of the final meeting of the Start Fitness sponsored North Eastern Athletics League, held at Gateshead’s International Stadium last Wednesday evening, the weather certainly kept to its promise and delivered an absolute deluge that threatened the meeting with abandonment to add to the recent tally. Officials sensibly took the decision to delay the start and eventually events got under way.
It was the seeded and younger age 200m events that began the meeting proper and Morpeth Harriers athletes did very well considering the delay had set them the task of having to repeat their required warm-up procedures before taking to the track.
In the seeded A race, Jack Hepple was very much the ace in the pack, his late surge outsprinting North Eastern Counties 100m and 200m Senior Men’s Champion Christian Carson to take a well-earned victory. Hepple clocked 23.32s, just ahead of Carson, who was given a clocking of 23.4s.
Another Morpeth Harriers success story is that of the ever-improving Henrik Paulsen, who finished fourth in the B race of the 200m in 25.97s and later went on to set new figures of 58.67s in the 400m when finishing fourth.
Other good club performances over 200m came from Alex Nesbitt, who won the Under 15 Boys event in 25.66s, and Mitchell Green, who won the Under 13 Boys in 29.46s.
There was further joy on a damp night for the Green family when Mitchell’s older brother Ryan had an untroubled victory in the Under 15 Boys 800m, albeit in a slower time than wished when clocking 2m09.34s.
Second place in this event went to fellow Morpeth Harrier Jared Lewis, who clocked 2m15.01s, and Jacob Hopkins and Sam Williams finished fourth and 11th in respective times of 2m21.75s and 2m44.88s.
There was a win for Morpeth Harrier Keiran Hedley in the Under 13 Boys’ 800m, where he clocked 2m30.70s.
In the Under 17 Women’s 800m, Morpeth’s Alison Brown finished second in 2m34.07s and Elliot Kelly finished fifth in the Under 17 Men’s 800m in 2m11.94s.
Eventually, the track programme was completed at 9.25pm with the seeded 3000m, where Morpeth Harriers had four competitors in action. They were led home by James Taylor, who finished third in 9m19.86s. John Woods was next to finish for the club in fifth spot in 9m41.13s.
Michael Thomsen, having his first venture on the track in a Morpeth vest, did well to finish sixth in 9m46.30s and Mike Hegarty was seventh in 10m06.97s.
Despite the weather conditions, some field events were completed. In the Under 15 Boys’ long jump, Morpeth’s Alex Nesbitt achieved a best of 4.37m. Ria Fairnington and Philipa Kane of Morpeth achieved bests of 4.00m and 3.67m in the Under 15 Girls’ long jump. In the Under 13 Boys’ long jump, Morpeth’s Mitchell Green achieved 3.93m
The only other field events completed were the javelin and shot, where Morpeth’s Craig Pickup achieved bests of 25.90m and 7.93m respectively.
With the final meeting now complete, the league administrator has now completed his Grand Prix calculations and the following Morpeth Harriers are in line for league awards at its annual presentation, which will be held at Gateshead International Stadium on Monday, September 10.
Senior Men: Craig Pickup (2nd) 33pts; Junior Men: Jack Hepple (3rd) 35pts; Under 17 Men: Henrik Paulsen (3rd) 25pts and Elliot Kelly (6th) 19pts; Under 15 Boys: Alex Nesbitt (1st) 49pts, Ryan Green (4th) 25pts and Jared Lewis (5th) 24pts; Under 13 Boys: Mitchell Green (3rd) 49pts and Kieran Hedley (4th) 27pts; Under 15 Girls: Ria Fairnington (4th) 28pts. In addition, Ryan Green will pick up an extra award for his Athlete of the Meeting achievement at the first meeting on April 25 where he won the Under 15 Boys 1500m in a time of 4m31.8s.
l In her first outing since the Olympic final, Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman finished eighth in a talent-filled women’s 1500m at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, last Friday.
The 13-strong field also included another five of her fellow finalists and although Laura could not quite get close to her semi-final personal best, her finishing time of 4m06.09s still stands well among the quality field.
l A total of 71 athletes took part in the second and third try-it days, organised by Morpeth Harriers in association with the Northumberland Athletics Network, at the new athletics track at King Edward VI School on Saturday and Sunday.
As many as 44 came along to the first session on Saturday, which took in sprint and endurance running, as well as hurdles. On Sunday, 27 athletes enjoyed participating and receiving instructions on the finer technical aspects of shot, discus and javelin, in addition to the pole vault.
Specialist coaches were brought in by the Harriers and the Network to oversee the two-day operation and athletes certainly benefitted from the occasion. Attendance over the three days in total exceeded 80, which very much pleased the organisers.
l Saturday’s 5k Park Runs held in Newcastle and Durham proved to be happy hunting grounds for Morpeth Harriers Ian Hudspith and Andrew Lawrence.
Hudspith, running the event for the fifth time, finished 25 seconds clear of his clubmate Chris Sampson, who was back on home soil on a holiday visit from his current base in Madrid, Spain, and was running the event as a first timer. Hudspith clocked 15m25s.
Other Morpeth Harriers competing in the Newcastle run were Richard Sill (45th in 20m40s) and Mike Steven (65th in 21m30s).
Meanwhile over in Durham, Lawrence comfortably won the race in 17m12s.