A home win for Morpeth Harriers in the third fixture at the end of June is now more imperative than ever if they are to remain hopeful of retaining their North East Youth Development League Division title.
Morpeth finished runners-up in the second league fixture at the weekend as 2014 Champions Blaydon Harriers enjoyed a landslide victory by all of 103 points.
There was a terrific tussle for supremacy behind them, between Morpeth Harriers, third placed New Marske Harriers, fourth placed North Shields Poly, and fifth placed Harrogate and Wetherby, with only 55 points dividing them at Eastbourne Stadium, Darlington.
The host club Darlington tailed off in sixth place, a further 133 points adrift.
Blaydon’s victory effectively means that with two meetings still to complete, it will be an absolute dogfight to see who wins the Championship.
As New Marske won the first fixture at Whitley Bay, they still remain very much in the picture.
On Sunday, Morpeth did produce some fine performances, however, there were gaps that should have been filled, and will certainly need to be if there is any hope of championship success.
Honours were fairly evenly spread across the three age groups and two genders.
However, some athletes achieved multiple victories, which brought the bulk of the much needed points tally.
The Under 17 Men had four excellent event winners in Kieran Hedley and Connor Marshall on the track, and David Thomas and Ruaridh Lang in the field events.
Hedley won the 800m A race in 2m01.1s, a season’s best performance, and Rory Leonard, still in the early stages of a come-back following injury, took the B race in 2m11.2s, this being his first outing over the two lap distance.
Another double win in the Under 17 Men’s track events came in the 1500m, which saw a triumph for Connor Marshall in the A race, with a time of 4m42.4s, a new personal best by one second, and Liam Marsh in the B race, where he clocked 4m43.3s.
Jamie Duguid, of Morpeth Harriers, was an excellent non-scoring athlete in both the 800m and 1500m events, where he achieved new figures of 2m16.2s and 4m50.8s respectively.
David Thomas achieved excellent Morpeth wins in the long jump (5.69m), and triple jump events (12.15m), the latter being a new personal best by all of 11cm.
Mitchell Cryer gave excellent B string support in the long jump, producing 4.24m for third place.
The pair also linked up in the 100m, where Thomas clocked 12.3s for third in the A string, which was fractionally a new personal best, and Cryer clocked 12.7s for fourth in the B string.
Thomas also finished third in the high jump, clearing 1.50m.
Morpeth Harriers other Under 17 Men’s field event specialist in excellent form was thrower Ruaridh Lang, who won both Gold and Silver in the discus and shot at the previous week’s North Eastern Counties Championships.
In Sunday’s discus he produced an excellent personal best of 42.55m, also a new league record, winning by a margin of over 6m from Blaydon Harrier Michael Furness.
In the shot putt, Lang produced a new best of 12.17m for the weight, to win by just under 4m from the same Blaydon opponent.
Lang’s discus gave him an improvement on his winning North Eastern Championship throw by 23cm, a new lifetime personal best.
And his shot putt improvement was 4cm, which had also been at the previous week’s championships.
All in all, a superb day at the office for Lang, which incorporated two new league records.
Another Morpeth Harriers’ thrower having a good day was Bobbie Griffiths.
She very convincingly won the Under 17 Women’s javelin by breaking the league record with a best throw of 31.87m.
Although it was some 5m down on her personal best, it nevertheless gave her a degree of personal satisfaction.
Griffiths also enjoyed a second place in the discus with 26.25m, and third place in the shot putt with 8.18m.
Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Women’s sprint specialists are certainly in the form of their lives at the moment.
The club achieved two double victories in the 100m and 200m, courtesy of Jessica Young-Rogers, Katie Hilton and Naomi Arkle.
And the three were also part of a 4 x100m relay triumph, with a time of 51 seconds, along with Hannah Brown, which effectively placed them 14 in the UK and first in the region, ahead of Middlesbrough Mandale.
Young-Rogers won the A string 100m and 200m with respective clockings of 12.8s and 26.6s, the latter being a new personal best.
The 100m B string race was won by Hilton in 13.2s, which was a new personal best for the talented North Eastern Counties finalist.
And Arkle took the 200m B race in 27.9s, just a mere second adrift of her personal best.
Arkle was an additional performer in the 100m, where she clocked 13.3s.
Katie Hilton, who won a Bronze medal in the North Eastern Championships in the triple jump, was again in fine form in this event, which she eventually won in a close battle with Blaydon’s Alex Strother by a margin of 15cm.
Her best effort of 9.73m, which was 19cm adrift of her personal best achieved in the North Eastern Championships.
It is hoped that the squad will be stronger for the next match, which is at home, at the King Edward VI School Track in Morpeth, on Sunday, June 26, when it will be all hands to the pump.
Team managers Steve Garrett (Boys), and Mark Brown (Girls) have work to do.
Back on the track, Gracie Hufton ran well to finish third in the Under 17 Women’s 1500m in 5m26.7s, taking a whole ten seconds off her previous best performance, which had been in the first round match at Whitley Bay at the beginning of the month.
Carrying on from her excellent performances at the North Eastern Championships, where she had collected two Gold medals in the Under 15 Girls Discus and Shot Putt events, Morpeth Harrier Lottie Hume managed two excellent victories in those events and added an excellent second place in the Javelin for good measure.
She bettered her Discus performance by all of 21cm, with a winning effort of 23.51m, was agonisingly only five centimetres adrift of her personal best in the Shot, and her Javelin throw of 19.61m, was around a metre and a half adrift of her best performance, however Lottie’s points haul alone was an excellent contribution to her clubs achievement.
Nadine Arkle, younger sister of Naomi, proved to be another excellent on the day sprint performer in the Under 15 Girls section, as she carved out two victories in the 100m and 200m, with respective clockings of 13.7s and 28.1s, which were both seasons’ best performances.
Morpeth had two excellent performers in the Under 15 Girls 800m; with Ellie Coxon finishing as second in the A race in 2m28.6s, which bettered her previous personal best performance by all of nine seconds.
Coxon’s Morpeth club colleague Holly Peck was a second slower with 2m29.5s, which was the third fastest overall time, which also made her first B string competitor.
Lily Heaton of Morpeth Harriers finished as second A string competitor in the Under 15 Girls 1500m, posting a time of 5m19.3s, and Lauren Cumming’s 5m32.2s, was good to see her emerge as second in the B string competition.
Under 15 Boys thrower Andrew Knight was certainly the star performer in his age group, as he won both the Hammer and Shot Putt competitions, and finished second in the Discus.
In the Hammer, which he was attempting for the first time, he threw a best of 24.56m, which ranks him as 64th in the UK, and his throw was nearly fifteen metres further than his closest rival in the competition.
Knight’s Shot Putt victory was very much sweeter, because he inflicted defeat on his closest regional rival Luke Allen of Darlington, beating him by 56cm, with his best effort of 11.82m, which was 14cm short of his personal best.
In the Discus, Andrew fell short of James Wordsworth of North Shields Poly, by about three metres with his best effort of 25.85m, however for Knight it was a brand new personal best by nearly a metre.
Morpeth Harriers also performed well in the B string events of the Under 15 Boys Discus and Shot Putt, courtesy of newcomer Daniel Common, currently being advised by Club Coach David Thomas, who comments on being very pleased with his steady progress.
Common’s winning efforts respectively were 17.60m and 9.01m, which put him nearly two metres and one metre clear of his closest B string rivals.
He also found 20.43m good for fourth place in the A string Javelin, where Ross Charlton scored valuable B string points by placing third with a token 3.35m.
Charlton was more at home however on the track in the 1500m, where he finished second in the A string in 4m48.1s, and clubmate Andrew Hudspith in his first NEYDL outing of the season finished third in the B race with 5m06.5s, which was a brand new personal best for the son of former Commonwealth Games Marathon medallist Mark, who was on hand at Darlington to view his eldest’s steady progress in the sport.
Other good Under 15 Boys results came in the Long Jump for Patrick Darroch, who finished third with a best of 4.39m, which for him was a new personal best, and the Morpeth 4 x 100m Relay squad, who sprinted their way to third place in 55.8s.
The best performance from Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Boys, came in the Long Jump, courtesy of North Eastern Counties Gold medallist Alfie Ward, who won the A string with a best of 4.46m, which was a new personal best performance, improving on his previous week’s championship by 22cm.
Bobby Stone won the B string for Morpeth with a best of 4.26m, which for him was also an excellent personal best, an improvement by 10cm.
It was a good day for Ward all round, as he also tackled the 75m Hurdles for the first time, winning in 14.4s, and went on to win the B race of the 1500m in 5m38.7s, backing up Ben Walker’s second place in the A string race, where he clocked 5m02.8s, which was an excellent new personal best by around two seconds.
Other Morpeth performances in the Under 13 Boys 1500m, came from Jack Barrett (5m41.3s), and the Morpeth Boys Team Manager’s son Reece Garrett who clocked 6m29.7s.
In the Under 13 Boys 200m, Charlie Lane finished third in the A string in 29.0s, and Josh Adams finished third in the B string in 29.7s.
Dylan Davies finished fifth in the A string 800m in 2m46.6s, however Aaron Haldane’s 2m49.6s was good for second in the B string.
The best Morpeth performance on the track in the Under 13 Girls events, undoubtedly came from Rhiannon Hedley, who won the 800m A race in 2m29.2s.
Rebecca Bradley ran well to finish second in the B race in 2m50.7s.
Best performance for Morpeth in the Under 13 Girls Field events undoubtedly belonged to Alice Geohegan, who won the Javelin with her best throw of 20.11m.
Alice also showed her versatile ability when finishing third in the 70m Hurdles in 15.1s.
This was clearly a good all round performance by all those athletes who turned out, however if the club are to continue its challenge to clinch another league title, then there are clearly still gaps to be filled, and respective Morpeth Harriers, will be seeking very consciously over the next few weeks to try to fill those gaps, a particular area of concern for both team managers are in the Under 15 age group, in both genders.
MATCH RESULT (Subject to further scrutiny)
1st Blaydon Harriers 757pts, 2nd Morpeth Harriers 653pts, 3rd New Marske 622pts, 4th North Shields Poly 602pts, 5th Harrogate & Wetherby 598pts, 6th Darlington 465pts.