Medals galore at area contest

A superb total of 27 medals was achieved by athletes from Morpeth Harriers at the annual North Eastern Counties Athletics Association Track and Field Championships, writes George Patterson.

There was an equal spread of medals achieved, resulting in nine gold, nine silver and nine bronze being won over the two days of competition at Gateshead’s International Stadium on Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and 24.

The event was once again sponsored by Start Fitness and over the two days, athletes enjoyed near-perfect conditions, with Saturday being mostly endowed by warm sunshine.

Morpeth Harriers’ best of their total haul of 27 medals came on the first day, where 16 in all were won, with U15 athletes Ruaridh Lang and Bobbie Griffiths each achieving two gold, and both also gaining two championship-best performances.

In the discus, Lang threw a personal best of 39.83m for victory, which was also a championship best. He gained a second gold medal in the shot with a best of 12.22m, which also was a personal best.

Griffiths was easily 10 metres clear of her closest rival in the javelin, who just happened to be her club colleague Jessica Young-Rogers, who took silver behind her with a pb of 23.63m, one of nine of that colour over the weekend.

Throwing 33.86m, Griffiths not only enjoyed a pb, but also a championship best.

Griffiths achieved her second gold in the discus with 25.16m, also a new pb.

Morpeth Harriers’ other double gold medallist was U17 Scott Beattie, who triumphed in the 1500m on the Saturday, posting a time of 4m15.92s, then returned on the Sunday to win the 3000m in a time of 9m06.89s.

Another superb Morpeth Harriers track performance on the first day, came in the U15 Boys 1500m, where Taylor Glover took the gold medal in 4m19.83s, a time which gave him an improvement of 19 seconds.

On day two, Morpeth Harriers won another two of the total of nine gold medals, courtesy of U13 Girl Holly Peck and U15 Girl Ellie Burt.

After the first-day disappointment of only securing a bronze medal in the 800m, where she clocked a pb of 2m30.67s, Peck retaliated superbly on the second day, by inflicting defeat upon the Saturday winner Natasha Stephenson of Gateshead Harriers, as she won the 1500m by a four-second margin in 5m08.69s, again a new pb.

Burt achieved her gold medal victory in the hammer, with a superb best of 21.82m, winning by the handsome margin of just over six metres.

Morpeth Harrier Hannah Brown achieved a silver medal in the U15 Girls 75m hurdles, posting a time of 12.10s.

Another first-day silver for Morpeth came courtesy of Amber Cormack in the U20 Women’s 800m, where she clocked 2m28.06s.

In the U15 Boys 300m on the Saturday, Morpeth’s Joe Dowd won a silver medal in a new pb time of 39.17s.

Dowd added a bronze to his tally on the Sunday in the 800m, where he also set new figures of 2m11.29s.

Morpeth’s U17 sprinter Sean O’Hara also won a silver in the 100m, just losing out to Durham’s Greg Venyo in a very close finish, where he clocked 11.80s.

Lottie Hume of Morpeth Harriers won a silver medal in the U15 Girls’ discus, behind clubmate Bobbie Griffiths, with her best throw of 15.03m.

Ryan Green maintained superb form throughout the heats and final of the U20 Men’s 800m on the second day, eventually to claim the silver medal behind Sunderland Harrier Michael Wilson.

Green was fractionally adrift of his pb with his time of 1m58.67s.

Elliot Kelly was another good U20 Men’s performer, taking silver in the 5000m with a clocking of 16m19.20s.

Bobbie Griffiths and Ellie Burt added to their first-day successes by securing silver and bronze medals respectively in the U15 Girls’ shot putt, with bests of 9.04m and 8.67m.

Daniel Moore secured a bronze medal in the Senior Men’s 100m on the Saturday, with a clocking of 11.88s, a new pb.

In the U17 Men’s shot putt, Morpeth Harrier Charlie Chisholm won bronze, with a best effort of 7.83m.

Jessica Young-Rogers, of Morpeth Harriers, secured her second medal of the weekend in the U15 Girls’ high jump, when she cleared 1.40m, equalling her pb, to take the bronze.

After being run out of the medals on the Saturday in the 1500m, Morpeth Harrier Jacob Hopkins could take delight from his bronze-medal-winning run in the U17 Men’s 800m on the Sunday, where he clocked 2m07.80s.

Kieran Hedley won a bronze medal in the U17 Men’s 3000m in 10m00.71s, behind clubmate Scott Beattie.

Ross Charlton won a bronze medal in his very first U15 Boys’ 3000m in a time of 10m17.15s.

Other than the medallists, Morpeth Harriers also had an excellent turnout of supporting athletes.

Prominent performers among them were Lily Heaton (fourth, U13 Girls’ 800m) 2m34.85s; Jessica Young-Rogers (fourth, U15 Girls’ 100m) 13.22s; (fourth, U15 Girls’ 200m) 27.66s; Mitchell Green (fourth, U17 Men’s pole vault) 2.40m; Steven Appleby (fourth, Senior Men’s discus) 30.89m; Charlie Chisholm (fourth, U17 Men’s discus) 28.11m; Rhiannon Hedley (fifth, U13 Girls’ 1500m) 5m23.21s; Hannah Sheerin (fourth, U20 Women’s 1500m) 5m19.11s; Andrew Lawrence (fourth, Senior Men’s 5000m) 16m 0.01s; Robert Balmbra (fifth, Senior Men’s 5000m) 16m04.47s; and Connor Marshall (fifth, U15 Boys’ 3000m) 10m37.46s.

In total, the club had 37 athletes in action over the two days.

Three Morpeth Harriers were in action at the high-profile BMC Grand Prix meeting, held at Sports City, Manchester, on Saturday evening (May 30).

Best performer from the club was undoubtedly Jonny Taylor, who clocked a new pb time of 13m52.14s, when winning the Men’s 5000m A-race from Hallamshire’s Andy Heyes, who also saw new figures of 13m53.41s.

Morpeth Harrier Ross Floyd also clocked new figures of 15m18.66s, when finishing ninth in the later-run 5000m D-race.

The other Morpeth Harrier performer was Andy Wiles, who finished ninth in the 1500m B-race in a season’s best performance of 3m48.19s, in a race won by Edinburgh AC’s U20 athlete Josh Kerr, who clocked 3m44.12s.

A field of more than 1,200 runners took part in the annual Middlesbrough 5k Riverside Road Race on Sunday (May 31).

They were led home by Crook’s Ehiopian Paralympics star athlete Wondi Indelbu, who just won by a mere second in a closely-fought battle with Morpeth Harrier Ian Hudspith, who clocked a time of 14m59s for his efforts and was the first Veteran Male finisher.

Third place went to another Ethiopian, Elswick Harrier Tadele Geremew, who clocked a finishing time of 15m07s.

All three leading finishers will probably next do battle with each other in next month’s annual Blaydon Race, which on paper looks an exciting prospect, judging by this performance.

Other prominent Morpeth Harriers in action at Middlesbrough were Nathan Shrubb, Kevin Calvert and Ian Harding, who finished fifth, seventh and eighth in respective times of 15m21s, 15m35s and 15m35s.

Shrubb was only six seconds outside his pb for the distance.

Another Morpeth Harrier who was six seconds adrift of his pb was Paul Brown, who finished 73rd overall in 18m08s, and was third in the Over 50 Veteran Men’s section.

Next home for Morpeth Harriers was new signing Mick Skeldon, who finished 78th overall in 18m23s, beating his previous best for the distance by five seconds.

Skeldon was ninth Over 45 Veteran Man.

Vicky Gibbs, of Morpeth Harriers, finished 89th overall, and was fourth female finisher and third Veteran Woman. She clocked a finishing time of 18m34s.

The Morpeth Harriers performances were completed by Archie Jenkins, who was 265th overall in 22m10s, and was ninth Over 60 Veteran Man.

Morpeth Harrier Mike Winter finished 12th overall in the annual Allendale eight Multi Terrain Race, on Saturday (May 30).

He was also fourth in the Over 40 Veteran Men’s category, clocking a time of 52m12s.

The event had 95 finishers.

Morpeth Harrier Mark Snowball made the long journey from the North East to Hessle, Humberside, on Sunday, very worthwhile, when he placed an excellent eighth of 404 finishers in the annual Humber Bridge 10k Road Race, in a time of 36m36s.

While Morpeth Harriers athletes were celebrating their 27 medals at the North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships, another Morpeth resident was also celebrating the two gold medals she won on the second day.

Nisha Desai, who runs as a first claim athlete for Trafford AC, a club which competes in the British Athletics League, triumphed in the Senior Women’s 400m hurdles final, then went on to win the flat 400m a little later in the day.

She won the former in a time of 62.59m, then the latter in 57.56s, and was thoroughly delighted with her achievements.

Living and working locally, Nisha still enjoys associating herself with her former home town club by assisting her mother Vina with her weekly coaching duties.