Despite a cold swirling wind, Morpeth Harrier Peter Newton still braved the 25 laps that earned him his third North Eastern Counties 10,000m track title at Monkton Stadium last Wednesday, writes George Patterson.
Newton, who first won the championship in 2012 in not too dissimilar conditions, was also winning for the second time in succession, off the back of some superb road performances, that included his part in a winning club performance at the Elswick Harriers Road Relays on Good Friday and being a very important member of his club’s squad that recently won the English National 12 Stage Road Relay at Sutton Park for the first time.
Although clocking a winning time of 30m48.9s, he was understandably some way short of his best time for the distance; however he was still one lap and seventy four seconds clear of Morpeth Harriers club-mate Ady Whitwam, in his first attempt at a track 10,000metres.
Despite finishing second, Whitwam was also pleased with his finishing time of 32m02.5s, however unfortunately was unable to count in the championship, being a non-resident to the area, and afterwards he faced the long drive back to Yorkshire without a medal. However, he was pleased to take part against quality opposition, which also included fellow Morpeth Harriers Chris Smith and Thomas Straughan, who finished third and fourth respectively in times of 32m18.6s, and 32m19.0s.
For Smith’s part, he bettered his previous figures for the distance by around 60 seconds and for Straughan, it was his first attempt at the distance on the track.
With Whitwam unable to claim a medal, the silver and bronze medals went to Smith and Straughan, which made it a superb Morpeth Harriers 1-2-3 on the podium.
Eight new personal bests and several excellent first-time performances were achieved by athletes from Morpeth Harriers who competed in the first Start Fitness North Eastern Grand Prix fixture, held at a chilly and windy Monkton Stadium, Jarrow.
Although most of the athletes had experienced the competition before, some were tackling distances for the very first time.
Three athletes from the club also managed individual wins in their event.
Clocking a new personal best of 4m21.4s, Kieran Hedley won the second of three graded races over 1500m.
After his Morpeth Harriers club-mate Adam Weightman took much of the early pace, Hedley forced his way to the front at the bell.
However, with 200m remaining, Hedley was caught by Middlesbrough Mandale’s Josh Allen.
With true grit and sheer determination, Hedley then forced his way back to the front, just approaching the finish line, and won by the slenderest of margins.
Hedley was the fourth fastest Under 17 Man in the event.
Meanwhile, Weightman also maintained his composure to come home in third place in 4m26.4s and was eighth fastest in the Under 20 age group.
In a talent filled 1500m A-race, which included no less than five Morpeth Harriers, Adam Gibbs was certainly the star on show.
Gibbs maintained a strong pace throughout the three-and-three-quarters-lap event to finish in second place and as second Junior Man overall, shaving a whole three seconds off his previous figures, with a superb finishing time of 4m08.6s.
Finishing just behind Gibbs were his Morpeth Harriers colleagues Scott Beattie, Ross Floyd and Nathan Cox, who respectively posted times of 4m10.4s, 4m11.2s and 4m12.4s.
For Beattie, it was his first outing over the distance and he can certainly feel well pleased with his effort, which made him third Over 17 Man.
Another Morpeth Harrier in the A-race line-up was Elliot Kelly, who was making a competitive comeback following a short lay-off with a virus.
Kelly clocked a modest 4m22.4s, someway short of his best, however will have certainly benefitted from getting back into competitive action and he was seventh among the Junior Men.
After warming up in a brisk Under 13 Girls’ 100m, which saw her clock 15.8s, just four hundredths of a second adrift of her best, which saw her clock the 11th fastest time, Morpeth Harrier Holly Peck returned to the track around an hour later to win the 1500m, knocking a whole 18 seconds off her previous best, with a new clocking of 5m13.7s.
Also taking part in the Under 13 Girls’ 1500m were Rhiannon Hedley, who also set new figures of 5m26.6s, when finishing second, knocking a whole 25 seconds off her previous best, which had been in the NEYDL meeting at Morpeth five days before, when making her debut at the distance, and Lily Heaton, who did well to finish seventh on her first outing at the distance, in a time of 5m35.1s.
In the series of six Graded 300m events, Joe Elder was third Junior Man, when winning his particular heat in a time of 37.9s.
Morpeth’s Henrik Paulsen also competed in the Junior Men’s 300m and was seventh fastest, posting a finishing time of 41.9s.
Other prominent finishers for Morpeth Harriers at the meeting were Thomas Cunningham and Joe Dowd.
Under 13 Boy Cunningham finished third in what was his first 1500m, in a time of 5m19.2s, meanwhile Dowd set new figures of 4m44.7s in the Under 15 Boys’ event, where he was fifth fastest, knocking a whole six seconds off his previous best.
Dowd’s younger brother Daniel made a very impressive competitive debut in the Under 13 Boys’ javelin and was Morpeth Harriers’ only competitor in field-event action on the night.
He did exceptionally well to finish third, with his best effort of 21.94m, a performance that would certainly impress his coach.
Other Morpeth Harriers performances were:
Under 15 Boys’ 1500m: Matthew Waterfield (8th) 4m57.1s, Ross Charlton (9th) 4m57.6s (new PB by 10secs), Alex Cunningham (10th) 5m00.1s, Connor Marshall (11th) 5m04.5s (New PB by 1sec).
Junior Women’s 300m: Amber Cormack (4th) 45.2s.
Junior Women’s 1500m: Hannah Sheerin (3rd ) 5m11.1s (new PB by 3secs).
Morpeth Harriers’ Men’s and Women’s Track and Field squad managed to finish an excellent second in their opening Northern Athletics Division 2 match, held on their home track at King Edward VI School, on Sunday.
Heavy, early-morning rain, accompanied by fierce winds, very nearly put the fixture in danger of cancellation, however good preparation by the club’s officials helped to ensure that the event went ahead, with the only event on the programme missing being the pole vault because of the high wind making the apparatus unmanageable.
Surprisingly, despite the wind being head on, the sprinters from Morpeth Harriers achieved a good deal of success, with leading light Jack Hepple being only slightly adrift in his winning performances in the 100m (10.8s) and 200m (21.8s).
B-runner David Storey also fared well, winning the 100m in 11.9s and just being edged out in the 200m with 24.4s.
In the 400m, Joe Elder finished third in the A-race in 53.7s and Henrik Paulsen finished fourth in the B-race in 58.9s.
Andy Wiles, making his Northern League debut for Morpeth Harriers in the 800m, won in 1m55.3s, just a whisker ahead of Gateshead’s Chris Parr.
A superb double track victory for Morpeth was achieved in the 1500m, when Adam Gibbs, also making his league debut for the club, produced a superb personal best of 4m01.2s to win the A-race, and not far behind him was Nathan Shrubb, who produced an excellent supporting run to take the B-race in 4m03.5s.
In the 5000m, Morpeth’s Robert Balmbra finished second in the A-race in 16m03.8s and Elliot Kelly clearly showed that he is bouncing back to form following a virus, when he took the B-race, clocking new figures of 16m08.9s.
The Appleby brothers shared the spoils for Morpeth Harriers in the Men’s field events.
Paul finished third in the A-string hammer with 24.18m and Stephen finished third in the B-string with 19.73m.
Stephen hurled 29.79m to finish fourth in the A-string discus and Paul found a best of 28.54m to finish second in the B-string.
In the shot, Paul putted 9.08m for fourth in the A-string and Stephen managed 8.13m for third in the B-string.
Mitchell Green (Under 17) and Hans Paulsen (Under 20) made their Senior debuts in the javelin for Morpeth.
Mitchell had a best throw of 29.54m to finish fifth in the A-string and Hans found a best of 20.13m for fifth in the B-string.
Also making his Senior debut for Morpeth was David Thomas, who performed well in the long jump (5.62m) to finish third A-string and triple jump (11.83m) to place second in the A-string.
Hans Paulsen and Mitchell Green were the respective Morpeth B-string athletes, weighing in with bests of 4.19m and 10.46m for fourth and second places.
Morpeth Harriers finished second in the Men’s 4 x 100m relay in 45.4s, courtesy of Kenny Harrison, David Storey, Connor Hedley, and Jack Hepple, and third in the 4 x 400m relay in 3m40.3s, courtesy of Joe Elder, Adam Gibbs, Henrik Paulsen and Lewis Timmins.
The Morpeth Women’s events saw two double victories.
Beth Laidler (13.6s) and Megan Deakin (13.3s) claimed victory in the A and B-string 100m and nearly did likewise in the 200m, when Meagan finished a close second in the A-race in 27.3s and Beth took the B-race in 27.8s.
Emma Holt won the 3000m A-race in 10m18.9s and Vicky Gibbs gave excellent support by winning the B-race in 10m53.3s.
Amber Cormack had an excellent victory in the Women’s 800m in 2m23.8s and Abby Sheldon finished third in the B-race in 2m35.2s.
Cormack also finished an excellent third in the 400m in 62.7s, being backed up by Molly McDonald’s B-string effort of 71.9s, which saw her finish fourth.
In the Women’s 1500m, Hannah Sheerin clocked 5m09.0s for third in the A-string and Abby Sheldon produced 5m44.2s to win the B-string.
Claire Reid did most of the work for Morpeth Harriers in the Women’s field events.
She finished second in the A-string of the discus with a best of 27.75m and third in the shot with 10.26m.
15.63m saw her finish fifth in the javelin and 13.10m gave her sixth in the A-string hammer.
Elaine Moore backed her up in two of these events.
She finished third in the B-string hammer (7.00m) and fifth in the B-string discus (8.97m).
Moore also finished third in the A-string long jump (3.73m) and fourth in the B-string triple jump (7.20m), backing up Hannah Sheerin’s A-string effort of 7.95m, which saw her finish fourth.
Abby Sheldon backed up Reid’s javelin effort by finishing fifth B-string, with a best of 8.97m.
In the Women’s relays, Morpeth Harriers finished fourth in the 4 x100m in 55.7s, courtesy of Amber Cormack, Molly McDonald, Beth Laidler and Megan Deakin, and fourth in the 4 x 400m, in 4m35.5s, courtesy of Cormack, McDonald, Hannah Sheerin and Abby Sheldon.
At the end of the day, the Morpeth Harriers squad could feel both surprised and delighted by the result of finishing second in their opening match, and there were quite a few gaps in the team still to be filled on the day and if these gaps are filled in the remaining three fixtures, Division 2 safety could easily be achieved.
Final match score: 1st Gateshead B 381pts, 2nd Morpeth Harriers 312pts, 3rd Skyrac 299pts, 4th City of York 287pts, 5th North Shields Poly 265pts, 6th Middlesbrough Mandale 246pts.
Morpeth Harrier Nick Swinburn certainly took his superb winter cross-country form onto the track, when he finished seventh in a top-class 1500m event at the opening BMC Gold Standard Meeting, held at Stretford in Manchester on Sunday, April 26.
The English National bronze medallist clocked 3m56.41s, which proved to be around eight seconds adrift of Phoenix’s Under 20 athlete Robbie Fitzgibbon.