A handsome haul of 14 Championship medals were won by athletes from Morpeth Harriers over the two days of the Start Fitness-sponsored North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships, held at Gateshead’s International Stadium on Saturday and Sunday, writes George Patterson.
Five of those medals were gold, five were silver, and four were bronze.
While Saturday was very sunny, Sunday brought intermittent cloud and a blowing wind, which slightly hampered sprinters, however, temperatures remained quite warm, and for once, not a single drop of rain fell throughout the two-day competition, which very much pleased athletes and spectators alike.
One of Morpeth Harriers’ stars of the show was undoubtedly Jack Hepple, who not only retained his two titles in the U20 Men’s 100m and 200m event, but also claimed both gold medals by clocking excellent times of 10.95s and 22.22s respectively, the latter being a marginal new personal best.
Another Morpeth star performer was Sean O’Hara, who was very much unlucky not to emulate Hepple’s gold medal double in the U15 Boys’ events.
Unfortunately he just missed out fractionally for gold to Gateshead athlete Joseph Purvis in the Saturday 100m final, where he clocked 12.17s. Ironically Sean had clocked a lifetime pb of 11.75s, when he had finished second to the same athlete in the heats.
However, he returned to the scene on Sunday in a very positive frame, to turn the tables on Purvis in the 200m, where he clocked an excellent 24.18s, again a new pb.
In both finals O’Hara was accompanied by fellow Morpeth Harriers athletes.
The most successful of these was Jake Jardine, who won a bronze medal in the 100m with 12.61s.
Jack Balmbro was successful in making both finals, but missed out on medals by finishing seventh in the 100m (13.46s), and sixth in the 200m in 26.41s, both of these clockings being pb performances.
Mitchell Green also made it through to the final of the 200m, where he finished fifth in 26.34s, equalling his lifetime pb.
Green also competed in the U15 Boys’ javelin on Sunday, where he finished fifth, with a lifetime pb throw of 28.65m.
Another first-day gold medal-winner for Morpeth was Lewis Timmins, who, following a stern final-lap effort in the Senior Men’s 1500m, won in 4m04.06s.Ryan Stephenson of Morpeth took the bronze medal in 4m08.29s.
Morpeth Harriers’ third gold medallist on day one was U15 Boy Ruaridh Lang, whose 28.86m in the discus secured him the title, his throw being a lifetime pb.
Lang also achieved new figures of 8.96m in the shot, but unfortunately finished outside the medals in fifth place.
In addition to O’Hara, Morpeth Harriers had another two silver medallists on day one.
Nathan Cox ran a superb race in the U17 Men’s 1500m, only to lose out to Crook’s Markhim Lonsdale on the final lap. Cox clocked 4m08.44s.
Will Kelly was delighted to win his silver medal in the U15 Boys’ 300m on Saturday, in a new pb time of 40.20s.
He began a good weekend for the Kelly household, as elder brother Elliot ran an absolutely superb U20 Men’s 5000m in 16m19.47s, on the Sunday, to take one of the day’s two bronze medals.
While Elliot was taking bronze in the U20 version of the 5000m track event, his first , fellow Morpeth Harrier Peter Newton was competing in the Senior Men’s race.
Newton, who only recently won the region’s 10,000m title at Jarrow, was hoping to add the 5000m title to his already-impressive tally.
However, he only just missed out to Durham City’s North Eastern and Northern Cross Country Champion Dan Garbutt by four seconds, with his clocking of 14m47.63s.
Both athletes had also competed in the gruelling yet impressive fastest of the epic 10,000m races at Parliament Hills track in London, the previous week, where Newton had posted new figures.
Nevertheless Newton and Garbutt gave an impressive showing to honour their regions championships.
Eddie Hedley’s sprint stable completed an excellent weekend, when Morpeth’s Megan Deakin took the silver medal in the U17 Women’s 300m, in a time of 43.15s, a new pb.
Another creditable run in the 300m was had by Lauren Eadington, who finished sixth in 47.05s.
The club’s medal haul was completed by Louise Brett, who took a second-day bronze in the U17 Women’s 300m hurdles in 52.19s.
Apart from the medallists the club also had other athletes who courageously put themselves on the line over the two days of excellent competition.
Kieran Hedley was possibly one of the most unlucky of these, to just lose out on medals in the U15 Boys’ 800m, where he finished fifth in 2m11.90s, a new pb, and fourth in the 1500m in 4m32.74s.
Hedley was accompanied in the 800m final by Joe Dowd, who finished seventh in 2m23.18s.
Jacob Hopkins finished fifth and sixth respectively in both the U17 Men’s 1500m and 800m finals, in times of 4m24.60s, and 2m06.86s, both of these lifetime pbs.
Abby Sheldon ran in the final of both the U17 Women’s 800m and 1500m events, where she finished fifth and sixth with respective clockings of 2m32.98s, and 5m38.42s, the first of these being a pb.
Hannah Brown of Morpeth Harriers went out in the heats of the U15 Girls’ 200m, where she clocked 29.81s; however, she did make the final of the 75m hurdles, placing seventh with 12.97s, which represented a new pb.
Morpeth’s Monet Wendt went out in the heats of the U13 Girls’ 800m, where she clocked 2m49.79s.
Stiff qualification requirements got the better of sisters Naomi and Nadine Arkle of Morpeth Harriers.
Despite finishing second in her heat in the U15 Girls’ 100m in 14.39s, Naomi failed to progress.
Nadine finished fourth in her heat of the U13 Girls’ 100m, where she clocked 14.99s; however, this did not see her through.
Over the two days, a total of 25 athletes from Morpeth Harriers took part in the Championships, and that the fact that the club managed 14 medals in all speaks of a good overall effort from those who participated.
Organisers of Sunday’s Bupa-sponsored Great Manchester 10k certainly assembled a top-class International field for the event, including leading Morpeth Harrier Nick McCormick, who ran very well to finish in sixth place in 29m21s, and he was first Brit home.
The other Morpeth Harriers that featured in the prestigious line-up were Ian Hudspith (38th) (third O/40) 31m59s, Matthew Nicholson (42nd) 32m09s, and Ade Whitwam (46th) 32m21s.
Only a mere four seconds divided the first three teams in the annual Gordon Smith Memorial Road Relays, held at Segedunum, Wallsend, on the evening of Wednesday, May 14.
Posting a combined time of 29m17s over the 3x2mile course, it was, however, Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s A team who won by three seconds over Birtley AC, with North Shields Poly a further second adrift in third place.
Phil Walker had the Morpeth squad in a handy 14th spot with his individual 10m25s, before Carl Avery took over on second leg, having progressed a further 10 places to fourth, by posting an excellent 9m32s, which proved to be the second fastest time of the night, only bettered by Avery’s Morpeth Harriers club colleague Ross Floyd, whose 9m20s was enough to give his club a superb team victory.
The Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s B team also had a superb night, finishing in fourth place overall in 29m49s, thanks to superb efforts by Thomas Straughan (9m45s), Fergus Bates (10m15s), and John Butters (9m49s), which ensured that they emerged as first B team.
Morpeth Harriers also produced the first C team, who finished 12th overall in 31m30s, courtesy of Rob Hancox (10m48s), Sam Hancox (10m14s), and Mick Thomsen (10m28s).
The club also had the third Men’s D team, which finished 39th in 34m50s, courtesy of Tony Lewis (10m39s), Mark Snowball (10m59s), and Chris Waugh (13m12s), who not only competed, but also doubled up on his duties by being team manager on the night, and also could feel quite pleased with the Men’s squad’s combined efforts.
He also took responsibility for the successes of the clubs Womens squads, who finished fifth, 12th, and 37th respectively.
The Morpeth A team were fifth A team in 37m22s, thanks to combined efforts from Alison Brown (12m17s), Lindsay Turnbull (12m33s), and Lorna MacDonald (12m32s).
Morpeth Harriers Womens B team finished as third B team in 38m52s, courtesy of Hannah Rank (12m14s), Shuna Rank (13m26s), and Kate Chapman (13m12s).
Sue Smith (13m51s), Pam Woodcock (14m36s), and Lesley Chapman (14m03s), were the combined efforts that helped Morpeth Harriers Womens C team to seventh placed C team in a combined time of 42m30s.
On a night bathed in sunshine, a record total of 142 complete teams took part, there were 82 Men’s teams, and 59 Womens teams, and it was also a successful coaching performance by team manager Waugh, who mustered a good deal of his own particular training group into competitive action for the occasion.
Four Morpeth Harriers competed in the opening meeting of BMC track events, held at Maiden Castle, Durham on Monday, May 12.
In the fastest 800m race of the night, Lewis Timmins finished fifth behind Woodford Green’s Jonathan Cook in a time of 1m58.8s.
Only one second adrift in time to Timmins was his Morpeth Harriers clubmate Ryan Stephenson, who finished fifth in the second 800m race of the night.
In the sixth 800m race on track, Morpeth Harrier Sam Hancox clocked new figures of 2m07.9s, when finishing second.
Sam’s clubmate and father Rob, won the final race of the night in a mixed field of male and female, also setting new figures of 2m24.9s.
In addition to the main feature, the Les Allcorn 10k Road Race, hosts Alnwick Harriers also held a Junior Race, run over a 3k course within Hulne Park, on Tuesday, May 6.
Six Morpeth Harriers took part, Ross Charlton was the first home from the club, finishing in fifth place overall in 11m10s, he was 50 seconds adrift of race winner James Young of Blyth Running Club, and he was also first home in the U13 Boys age group.
Not far behind him in seventh place was his Morpeth Harriers clubmate Daniel Dixon, who clocked 11m18s, and was third in the U13 Boys age group.
Wilf Campbell of Morpeth Harriers finished 10th in 11m58s, and was fourth U15 Boy.
Next placed Morpeth Harrier was Lizzie Rank, who finished 15th in 12m24s, and was third girl home, and second in the U15 category.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers were Callum Rowell (32nd) (sixth U11 Boy) 13m33s, and Lois Scott (53rd) (ninth U15 Girl) 14m36s.
The event had 88 finishers.