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Morpeth men retain road relay title for fourth consecutive year

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Morpeth Harriers enjoyed medal success at the North Eastern Counties Athletics Association Indoor Championships, which were held at Gateshead College.

The traditional first day on Saturday, reserved for field eventers, produced no fewer than six individual medals for the club, two of them gold.

Gold medals went to U17 athletes Andrew Knight and Ethan Stephenson.

In Knight’s case, he not only broke the indoor championship record with his best putt of 15.33m in the shot, which incredibly bettered the old figures by a whole metre, it was also the youngster’s third longest distance ever.

Stephenson took his gold in the triple jump, producing a best performance of 12.24m.He also won silver in the long jump, producing a best of 5.68m.

Morpeth’s remaining three medals were all silver, being produced by Craig Charlton, Koffi Avornyo and Jacob Clayton. Charlton produced an indoor best of 13.94m in the senior shot, finishing second to Thames Valley’s former Gateshead Harrier Craig Sturrock.

Avornyo cleared 1.50m, to claim his silver in the U15 boys high jump, and Clayton added to his club’s impressive medals tally in the U15 boys triple jump, producing a best of 10.07m.

Two more medals were won by Morpeth Harrier athletes on the second day of competition on Sunday, which was for track eventers.

Amy Lott achieved two personal bests, which included a championship record en-route to winning a superb gold in the U15 girls 60m hurdles.

She won her earlier-run heat in 9.49s, however, her superb run of 9.27s gave her a well-deserved gold, plus achieving a championship record was indeed the icing on the cake.

Morpeth’s other medallist on the day was Harriet Priest, who won a silver in the U20 women’s 60m in 10.89s, which equalled her personal best.

Ellie Longstaff narrowly just missed out on a medal in the final of the U 15 girls 60m, when finishing fourth in 8.4s.

A unique blend of young and old captured medals for Morpeth Harriers at the annual Royal Signals Road Relays, incorporating the North East Athletics Association Championships, held at a sunny but cold Hetton Lyons Country Park, Hetton le Hole, County Durham, on Saturday.

In thesenior men’s event, run over six stages, each covering a distance of 2.2miles, Morpeth retained the winner’s title for the fourth consecutive year.

Times were: Kieran Hedley (10m58s); Karl Taylor (11m11s); Sam Hancox (11m27s); Lewis Timmins (11m02s); Ian Harding (10m59s); and Thomas Straughan, who had run in Armagh in Ireland less than 48 hours previous, who clocked 11m00s.

The squad finished nearly a minute clear of second-placed Tyne Bridge Harriers, with Teesside-based club New Marske taking the bronze medals, a further 83 seconds adrift.

The Morpeth Harriers senior men’s B team, who finished 20th overall and as 18th senior team, would not have finished at all had veteran Paul Brown not jumped off his administration stool at the last moment to ensure that they finished as a complete squad.

With little or no warm-up, plus missing his actual start, he got around in 17m17s, very much against a running clock, to support the earlier efforts of U17 athlete Taylor Glover (11m08s); Alistair Douglass (11m29s); Andrew Hebden (12m49s); Andrew Lawrence (11m42s); and Mark Snowball (12m06s).

Morpeth’s O40 veteran men ran superbly to figure amongst the medals, finishing second to Sunderland Harriers in their category, courtesy of Rob Hancox (13m28s); Graeme Thorpe (12m35s); Paul Waterston (13m14s); John Butters, a truly excellent fastest veteran time of (11m26s); Tim Miley (13m25s); and Fergus Bates (12m36s).

They had also achieved this by using O50 veterans Hancox, nursing a hamstring injury, and Waterston, plus Miley, who is an Over 55 veteran, and all three had been willing to step down in age to compete with younger counterparts in the quest for medals.

The result had proved most positive, which delighted a much-beleaguered Morpeth veteran men’s team manager Peter Scaife, who had faced some last-minute drop-outs from his original O50 line-ups,.

A mere 19 seconds disappointingly robbed Morpeth senior women from retaining their North East title for the third successive year in their four-stage contest.

Despite excellent running by Holly Peck (13m30s), Catriona MacDonald (12m57s), Gracie Hufton(14m00s), and team captain Emma Holt (12m24s), they just couldn’t quite match the later power of Jarrow and Hebburn.

It was, however, Peck’s very first run in a senior competition, and for her and Hufton, their very first sharing of senior medals, albeit silver on this occasion.

Holt was second fastest on the day behind seasoned International Aly Dixon, who posted 11m53s for Sunderland Strollers, who were third placed women’s veteran team, thus making Holt the fastest senior.

In the veteran women’s event, Morpeth Harriers finished eighth, courtesy of Vicky Gibbs (14m23s), who was making a competitive comeback; Jane Briggs (16m17s); Helen King (14m40s); and Gemma Floyd (14m53s).

Morpeth also had some incomplete teams in action for their O50 men, along with an incomplete team in the senior women’s competition.

Due to injury and illness drop-outs, Peter Scaife only had Alistair MacDonald and Gavin Bayne to call into their line-up, which was very unfortunate, because with two more relatively strong team colleagues, they may well have been possible medal contenders in the age group.

Meanwhile Alison Brown, Sue Smith, and Pam Woodcock lined up in an incomplete senior women’s squad.